Heavy metal duo Goblin Claw look an awful lot like those guys from the West Bank
There's nothing more mature than a good sense of humor about oneself. Add a latex goblin claw, a smoke machine, some Sharpie-enhanced, tight, white jeans, a bounce track, and a heavy metal monster voice, and you've regressed your way into meta-mature. Or a Ballzack and Odoms show.
It's been nearly five years since Ballzack's last album, Yeah Indeed, featuring the complimentary lyrical stylings of fellow prolific prankster, Adam Bourgeois (Odoms/Lil' Doogie). Grown up on the West Bank and seasoned on a stand-up comedy stage, Rami Sharkey created Ballzack in 2002 on an old sampler in his bedroom. It was music made up of his hometown. From the bounce-inspired backbone, to the witty verbosity of his lyrics, Sharkey captured a playful kind of “nostalgia for the neighborhoods, relics, and idiosyncrasies of New Orleans,” he says, and you could dance to it. A decade and four albums later, Ballzack & Odoms inhabit their own unique block in the rap neighborhood, one where there's always a party. Ace 'N Ernie is the newest collaborative effort by the two fun-loving rappers, and this time it's a slumber party. At the super top secret suburban garage clubhouse of heavy metal geeks Goblin Claw. And they'll totally let you play with their swords.
“We felt kind of restricted by hip-hop I guess,” says Sharkey, about the creation of the Goblin Claw alter-egos Ace and Ernie. “Sometimes you want a rock tempo, or a chord progression.” So despite the cultish popularity of their previous projects, Sharkey and Bourgeois invented a heavy metal duo, a pair of earnest kids who can't get anyone to listen to their rock demos, so they learn to rap. About Ouija boards and Power Lords. The whole album, by nature of being hilariously accurate and detailed, pays tribute to that junior high phase more than one of us has had, the time when you horded comic books, drew pentagrams on everything, and staged Evil Dead reenactments in the cafeteria. “Yeah I'm in my 30s," Shsrkey says, "but I have this renewed interest in these things I used to love - The Misfits, Danzig, H.P. Lovecraft, comic books. I'm enthusiastic about old skateboard art,” Sharkey laughingly admits when asked about the inspiration behind the new characters. Ace 'n Ernie manages to keep the high energy Ballzack fans have come to love, but makes some room for melody.
One Eyed Jacks hosted the album release show last Saturday, and amidst some Ballzack and Odoms classics ("Monkey Hand Jobs," "Making Groceries," "Dance Dance"), emerged the alter-egos to hold their own. DJ Brice Nice, of WWOZ, mixed the live beats (though they're self-produced on the record), deftly layering heavy metal bass over booty-shaking bounce. He was kept company by both a red glowing skull lamp, and an enormous suspended Castle Grayskull effigy. Out in the crowd a reunion was going on, as loyal fans recounted their first and last Ballzack shows. That particular advisory excitement reserved for someone's first Mardi Gras seemed just as applicable on the dance floor, as everyone shouted out the lyrics and Odoms ran through the crowd with the mic. But perhaps the most definitive thing about seeing these two live, is that they're having more fun than anybody. Literally cracking each other up on stage, like two best pals in their granny's basement, blowing stuff up and trading stolen candy.
Ace n' Ernie, along with most of their past releases, are available at their new label website: www.snowballstand.com.