One-Man Band Series, #9: Amazing One Man Band

One-Man Band Series, #9: Amazing One Man Band

As dirty as the greasy gunk that accumulates between the coils of steel on a guitar player's stings, as fiery and sulfurous as demon's breath, as jacked up as a backwoods meth fiend, and as bizarre as an old-time carnival freak show, the music of Amazing One Man Band comes to us from a remote section of South America's Uruguay.

- James G. Carlson

posted October 5, 2010

As dirty as the greasy gunk that accumulates between the coils of steel on a guitar player's stings, as fiery and sulfurous as demon's breath, as jacked up as a backwoods meth fiend, and as bizarre as an old-time carnival freak show, the music of Amazing One Man Band comes to us from a remote section of South America's Uruguay. In a white button-down collar shirt and black tie, along with a menacing black and silver lucha libre mask, this one-man band hombre has cooked up a musical concoction that he likes to refer to as Hell Blues. It's a rather fitting term for his sound, though, since the songs he has unleashed into the world so far are probably what it would sound like if Hell did have its own version of the blues. More than anything his sound is a jumble of primitive rock 'n' roll and garage punk. Each of his songs is typically under two minutes long and marked by distorted vocals, filthy chord combinations on his electric guitar, and the pounding of his kick drum.

Over the past several months, during which time I have been working nonstop on what I call my One-Man Band Series, I have come across numerous one-man bands scattered across the globe. Some of them have become personal favorites of mine, while others I could simply take or leave. Amazing One Man Band is one of the former...one of those dirty primitive rock 'n' roll and raw garage punk artists that I immediately took a liking to. There are a small handful of categories into which one-man bands can be placed, and Amazing One Man Band unquestionably belongs to the same category as, say, Chuck Violence, Jeffrey Novak, Night of One Sadist, and Fabulous Go-Go Boy from Alabama, just to name a few. And even though he coined the term Hell Blues to describe his sound, there isn't anything resembling traditional blues music in it whatsoever. Be that as it may, add Hell to any endeavor...and all bets are off. So, Hell Blues it is.

Coco, otherwise referred to as Amazing One Man Band, isn't the first to sport a lucha libre mask in the one-man band community. Nor will he be the last. Reverend Beat-Man, one of today's most widely known and appreciated one-man bands, once went by the moniker Lightning Beat-Man, at which time he too wore a lucha libre mask on stage. Of course, when the Rev was known as Lightning Beat-Man and wore the mask, the mask took possession of him, making him crazy and violent, and he would actually kick his own ass and bust up his guitars during his shows. Clearly he earned the use of the mask in those days, though after several severe injuries sustained at his own gigs he had to take it off and lay it down for good. Other active luchadores in today's strange and wonderful one-man band scene are: Night of One Sadist, GarageKid, General Bastard, The Flying Minman, Anthony "Wild" Turkish, and a handful of others. In a way, the masks have become a staple of the garage punk, primitive rock 'n' roll, and trash rock bands of the modern one-man band movement, a tradition, as it were. They are personas to which the music can be attached, as unconventional and bizarre and mad as it is. These are personas that represent both the unusual solo artist setup and the songs themselves in a way that makes more sense than your average everyday Joe or Jane up on stage wailing on the slightly out-of-tune strings of his or her plugged in guitar, awash in deliberate feedback, growling and grunting and crooning and babbling into the microphone, and wildly pounding the skins and crashing the cymbals of his or her homemade drum rig.

And that doesn't count the various other face coverings employed by many other one-man bands throughout the world.

Take Bob Log III, for example, who wears a skin-tight, one-piece stunt man getup with his name bedazzled across the back, as well as a motorcycle helmet with a telephone mouthpiece built into the faceplate as a makeshift microphone. Then there's Bruno Gourdo Hot Buttered Wolf, who performs in a werewolf mask. There's Dead Elvis & His One Man Grave, who dons a white Vegas-era Elvis Presley jumpsuit and a rockabilly zombie mask that looks a bit like the postmortem and rotting countenance of the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself. There's the Shitworker, who appears in a ski mask, as if he's a bank robber "on the job" or an anonymous anarchist at a protest that's quickly escalating out of control. There is Japan's The Fly & His One Man Garbage, who plays his shows in a suit and tie, as well as a mask that looks like a giant housefly. There's Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger, who has been known to perform in a cape -- that's right, a cape! -- a cowboy hat, a black Zorro-like mask that only covers the eyes, and, ummm, sometimes even sheep skin chaps. The last artist I will mention for the topic at hand is the California-based One Man Banjo, who has actually shown up to his gigs decked out in all sorts of different costumes, like when he wore the ratty duds of an old-time yegg, or a vintage-looking black suit, bow tie, top hat and creepy skeleton mask, or a banjo-playing and pointy-eared goblin, among other things. There are certainly too many interesting one-man band artists with unique stage themes and inventive personas to mention here. The point is that the Amazing One Man Band is one of these cats. And also...if there is one thing I've learned while working with these artists for my Series: the one-man band set is a very strange musical community...a very strange musical community, indeed...and it takes a certain sort of individual to do the one-man band thing and do it right.

Amazing One Man Band has not only been featured on international one-man band compilations but has had a few 7" records released by labels such as Squoodge, Luna Sounds, and Un En Un Oh Records. He has also kept up a rather busy touring schedule throughout the past couple of years, touring with other one-man bands such as O' Lendario Chucrobillyman (Brazil), El Monstro (Mexico), Trash Colapso (Argentina), The Fabulous Go-Go Boy from Alabama (Brazil), Urban Junior (Switzerland), Chuck Violence (Brazil), Uncle Butcher (Brazil), Dead Elvis (Netherlands), and many others. In fact, Amazing One Man Band is on tour right now in Europe, with shows in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, including the Squoodge Records five year anniversary party in Berlin.

Recently I interviewed Amazing One Man Band. The contents of that interview are provided here for you in their entirety.

Let's begin with an introduction to the Amazing One Man Band, so as to give the readers of this piece a better understanding of you as an artist, as well as an individual, a human being of this mad, mad world.

Well, I'm a farmer. I live in the middle of nowhere in the north of Uruguay...The Green Desert. My cousin Chuck Violence calls it The Yaguari Pyramids. Anyway, it's a hot hole, but is pretty nice for me. My nearest neighbor is five miles away, so I feel free to live naked howling at the moonlight.

How long have you been doing the one-man band thing?

I have doing the finest HellBlues since 2007. Three years fighting against werewolves, getting drunk and loving tough chicks. Short time, but intense.

What prompted you to take the solo route, to invent your primitive rock and dirty-as-hell blues fusion and do it as a one-man band?

A lot of things took me to the OMB route. The OMB format is perfect for the kind of music I do, it's much more practical, and I don't depend on nobody to play what I want, when I want and how I want....and of course there's the fact that I live far from civilization. My friends are two werewolves, three hound dogs, and a bunch of chickens.

Since I began doing my One-Man Band Series I have noticed that the one-man band scene is definitely more prominent in Europe and South America, and decidedly less so in here in the States. You are the first one-man band I've encountered in Uruguay, however. What is the scene like there?

Uruguay is a very small country. Population is three million, and over the half of the three million are old people. One and a half million people live in Montevideo. The rock scene is very small and the one-man band scene is even smaller. Only know another one-man band from Uruguay -- a guy called El Trovador. But I'm trying to change these numbers. A couple of months ago I did a one-man band workshop at a School of Rock in Montevideo. I hope it encouraged that kids to take the bull by the horns and do things by themselves.

In our correspondence over the months I've noticed you use the term "Hell Blues" to describe your sound. Can you elaborate a bit on why you refer to it as such?

In 1974 I died...so, when I arrived at Hell that was the Hell-sound goin' on. After that, when I came back to life...I've never managed to play another musical style. I was enchanted and could only play the HellBlues. For people who don't know much about it, it may seem a kind of badly played blues just because it's raw and primitive. This shit burns inside!

You have obviously played shows and toured with some of the one-man band community's best artists, such as Chuck Violence, the Fabulous Go-Go Boy from Alabama, Uncle Butcher, O Lendario Chucrobillyman, and others. What has that been like? And...how would you describe the one-man band community?

It has been a great experience! We've toured Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay together. We have crossed borders shooting hot bullets. We have felt between bad girls' legs. We have burned all the grass on the way and drank all the booze in the bottle. What else can I say about those nice boys? I think the South American one-man band community is like a brotherhood. In Brazil they have the ABM (Brazilian One-Man Band Association), which helps a lot artists set up gigs, and supports not just the Brazilian OMB's but OMB's from everywhere, from recording to providing everything that a one-man band needs to be on tour.

By going over the photos of you posted online I have noticed that you, like a number of other one-man bands, wear a lucha libre mask. What inspired you to be one of the luchador rockers of the one-man band set?

I'm a very, very handsome man and don't want to be known as just a pretty face. So, I decided to wear this mask. In 2007 I was living in Mexico trying to make a living as a wrestling fighter. I felt very influenced by lucha libre in my early days as one-man band, as well as by tequila, tacos, and shorty girls.

Is the Amazing One-Man Band's Little Trashy Orchestra a different project from just the Amazing One-Man Band?

The Little Trashy Orchestra are a bunch of misfits who used to play songs at my gigs, but now they're spending some time in the county jail paying for a lives of lust and petty theft.

So...what's next for the Amazing One-Man Band? Shows, tours, albums, EPs, etc?

Everything. At first, a huge orgy. From September to November I'll be touring Europe. Have two splits to release -- a 10" vinyl by Luna Sounds: The Amazing One-Man Band and The Fabulous Go-Go Boy From Alabama to be released in September, and a 7" by Squoodge Records: El Trovador vs. The Amazing One-Man Band to be released someday (2011 maybe... who knows?). After that I go back to my life of promiscuity and great deeds.

Lastly, if there's anything I failed to cover, or if there's anything you'd like to discuss or express, etc, please feel free to do so now. The floor is all yours, friend.

Thanks for supporting the scene.