By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A member of iconoclastic Bay Area rock outfits Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3, Trey Spruance recently spoke with CBS SF about his close call during the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, Mr. Bungle’s unorthodox reunion and the band’s first new recording in over two decades.READ MORE: Entire Bay Area, Most Of California Now Under Extreme Drought Conditions
One of the most influential groups to emerge from the fertile Bay Area scene in the late ’80s, Mr. Bungle had its roots deep in the weird firmament of Humboldt County earlier in the decade.
Started in 1985 in Eureka when founding members Spruance, singer Mike Patton, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Jed Watts were still in their teens, Mr. Bungle initially created crafted an anarchic style of thrash/death metal that incorporated elements of ska and funk, but their music would evolve dramatically to introduce elements of avant-garde jazz, soundtrack music and punk.
Their first self-produced and released demo, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny in 1986 found the band just starting to develop a death-metal-meets-ska sound heavily influenced by the early efforts of Slayer, Anthrax and the legendary Anthrax side project Stormtroopers of Death.
Bungle would release two more demos, eventually relocating to Ukiah for a time (members attended and studied music at Humboldt State) before moving to San Francisco when Patton was hired as the lead singer to similarly genre-smashing SF rock band Faith No More.
That group was launched to international fame with their first album with Patton, The Real Thing, in 1989. With sales fueled largely by the MTV hit “Epic” that matched the singer’s rapped vocals to a soaring chorus and headbanging metal riff, the success of the album led to a record deal for Mr. Bungle, who recorded their self-titled experimental funk-metal debut with NYC punk-jazz maverick John Zorn.
While the group could have played up Patton’s matinee idol looks, Mr. Bungle instead matched the dark carnival soundtrack of their music with an equally disturbing visual sense that featured the members in Halloween costumes and clown or bondage masks while playing live onstage. The band also built a massive catalog of cover songs, mixing everything from ’70s television themes, pop hits, soundtrack obscurities (Henry Mancini and Ennio Morricone were composers of choice) and punk/metal favorites into setlists during the controlled chaos of their concerts.
Mr. Bungle produced two more albums over the course of the ’90s — the wildly avant-garde effort Disco Volante in 1995 and the more pop-minded but still strange California in 1999 — but went on an extended hiatus in 2000. Patton, Spruance and Dunn have collaborated on a variety of projects, including Patton’s bands Fantômas (which includes Patton and Dunn along with former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne), Tomahawk and Mondo Cane, recordings and performances with Spruance’s longtime avant-rock project Secret Chiefs 3 and Patton singing with Lombardo’s band Dead Cross.
Late last summer, Mr. Bungle fans were shocked by a surprise announcement that Spruance, Patton and Dunn would reunite under the moniker to revisit the band’s Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny demo for a series of concerts in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, augmented by Lombardo on drums and Anthrax/SOD guitarist Scott Ian.
While some might have been disappointed that the group didn’t play any material from Bungle’s three classic albums, sold-out crowds were treated to an absolutely blistering display by the five musicians. The band delivered brutal versions of the demo’s songs along with three previously unrecorded tunes from the era that sounded like a long lost ’80s thrash masterpiece. The group also unleashed a slew of mostly hardcore covers by bands like Corrosion of Conformity, Cro-Mags, Stormtroopers of Death, 7 Seconds, the Exploited and, in typically perverse Bungle fashion, soft-rock legends Seals & Croft.
Those live shows served as intensive rehearsals for the re-recording of The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, which is set to be released on Patton’s Ipecac Recordings imprint on October 30, the day before the band reconvenes for a Halloween livestream performance at an undisclosed location. Spruance recently spoke to CBS SF about a harrowing near disaster during the the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in Santa Cruz in August and his experience performing and recording the new version of Bungle’s first demo.
CBS SF: I’m happy to finally get a chance to talk to you at length about Mr. Bungle. I saw both San Francisco shows back in February and they were incredible. I guess if I can only see a handful of live concerts this year, I’m really glad those were two of them.
Trey Spruance: Thanks. Yeah, I feel the same way. What a lucky thing, to be able to have done that before everything went to s–t.
CBS SF: But first I wanted to ask how you’ve been dealing with the pandemic, but also how you were affected by the wildfires in August, If I remember right, you’re living in the Santa Cruz area?
Trey Spruance: Actually, it hit pretty dead square on. I mean, the house didn’t burn down, but it was in the area where the fire was really at its most destructive, in a way. In the Felton area, near Bonny Doon, where there was a lot of destruction. It was only saved, actually, because it was near the UCSC nature preserve, part of the UCSC property up there. So that’s kind of where the firefighters dug in and did the most intense defense work, because they wanted to save the university.
So it was luckily within that kind of umbrella. But the thing is, you know, for the last three years, I did a bunch of renovation work on that house and did all of the fire preparation stuff, because it’s a concern when you’re living there. Just a backbreaking, huge amount of work. And I put that house on the market, actually. And if you can imagine this, it’s solved 20 days before that fire. That deal closed 20 days before the fire hit. So all of our stuff was in storage out there.
So my wife and I had to just scramble. We actually got a hold of a big 26-foot truck and we’re able to — when the skies turned red and there’s this weird smell and ash is falling and the mandatory evacuation sirens are going off — we’re in the storage space grabbing my instruments and record collection and hard drives of all the music I’ve done and getting it out of there.
We were able to save the stuff. If that had burned, it would have been a catastrophe for us. So we’re lucky story out of everybody I know up there. Mostly, it has not been good; it’s been a whole nightmare. In a way, it’s been a very difficult three years; the time to actually sell the place and get out of there after working our asses off. Weirdly enough, that all kind of paid off for us. So maybe it’s one of the nice stories to come out of it. But it’s exhausting.
CBS SF: Yeah, I can I can imagine. So the storage facility where your stuff was, did that end up burning?
Trey Spruance: It didn’t burn. It was good because, yeah, that would it would have sucked. We were able to get the rest of our stuff. I mean, it was kind of weird. You know, we were there loading our stuff and I had thought of every apocalyptic scenario before we moved, honestly. It’s part of why we moved; we saw all the different versions of the apocalypse that can happen in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I’m paranoid that way, let’s say.
But then maybe I’m not the only one. There was a guy showing up there pulling out rifles and s–t. They’re getting ready for the f—–g war or whatever. Believe me, I can’t tell you how happy I was to be driving away from it.
CBS SF: That sounds extremely hectic. I guess at least you were at a kind of in-between point since you’d recorded the album a while before and that was all in the can and ready to go. So at least you weren’t dealing with any of that at the same time as all this turmoil. So that’s good, I suppose.
Trey Spruance: Well, it interrupted some things. I mean, my workflow over the last three years has been really, really interrupted just by that process of the renovation; doing carpentry instead of music. Now it’s great. I just got done building a studio and I’ve got my head right back into music and it’s awesome. I’ve kind of been out of the game.
CBS SF: It sounds like the new version of Raging Wrath is something that had been gestating for a little while before you announced the live dates in August of last year. What was the timeline as far as you guys discussing it? Does it go back years? I know you and Trevor and you and Patton and various combinations of the three of you have been working together on each other’s projects for a while. Was this something that would come up in conversation when you were hanging out and working on other stuff?
Trey Spruance: So this came up when Trevor had the idea. We didn’t know about it, or at least I didn’t know about it, but on Secret Chiefs 3/Dead Cross tour, which was in 2017, he came to a show in Brooklyn. So Mike’s there, Trevor’s there, I’m there and Lombardo is there. And Trevor sort of you got us all together and said, “Hey, what if this group right here, what if we went and recorded the f—–g Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny demo together?”
I don’t think he was even proposing it as a Mr. Bungle thing, but just as a project where we did The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. Because all of us have felt that that music never got a fair shake. And it’s really the centerpiece of the beginning of our collaboration together as musicians.
So with Lombardo standing there — the guy we would have been dreaming of to be play the drums with us for a show like this — the idea just exploded into all of our psyches. Like, “Oh my God, we could do that!” It’s hilarious.
CBS SF: Right. And pulling Scott Ian in is just a stroke of genius. I can’t think of anybody more perfect as far as filling out the sound. That dude is a machine…
Trey Spruance: I mean. then it was almost like, you know, “Can this fantasy continue? You know what? If we ask him to do it, what would he say?” And the reason we feel that way is because, in 1985 or ’86 when we recorded the first demo, the main drummer we were listening to carefully was Lombardo. And for sure, the main guitarist we were inspired by, just the riffing, was Scott Ian. Let’s shoot for the stars here.
And to our surprise, he was already familiar with the music! He had the demo tape from back then. Like in 1987 or something, he got the demo. He knew about it. He was like a Bungle fan later than that, but back then, he was hearing the metal version of us and then was surprised when our first record came out. “Oh, that’s these guys, huh?” It’s actually the exact inverse of what most Mr. Bungle fans are doing now, which is, “Huh? These guys are doing thrash metal? What?” He had it the other way around, which is the proper way.
CBS SF: Right, the more linear timeline of what actually happened.
Trey Spruance: Totally.
CBS SF: There’s mention in the press materials that the band was playing songs from Raging Wrath in the last tours you were doing for California before Bungle split up. As someone who saw the band pretty religiously, I had to ask about it, because I had no recollection. Granted, it was 20 years ago. Did you play snippets of those songs?
Trey Spruance: Yeah, at the Y2K concert in San Francisco at the Design Galleria, we played “Sudden Death,” — the longest song from The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny — in its entirety, from start to finish. It was kind of disguised, I think, for many people, because there is a part of “Merry Go Bye Bye” from Disco Volante where it breaks into this kind of metal stuff.
But instead of breaking into the metal stuff from that song, it just broke into the entire song of “Sudden Death.” And then we went back and finished “Merry Go Bye Bye.” But that’s weird if it says we played them on tours, because I don’t think we played them matures. I think we did “Sudden Death” maybe a few other times. There was more of a unique thing.
CBS SF: You mention in an interview snippet that was included in the press announcement for the live shows that you recorded the guitar demos to send to Lombardo in the same house in Eureka, where you originally recorded the demos. Did you find yourself trying to get back into that same mindset both during the preparation for the Raging Wrath shows and also for the actual recording of the album that came after?
Trey Spruance: Definitely in prepping for the live shows and making the demos. Really, being in Eureka was very conducive to that, actually. Just going back and even…playing guitar is funny. To play that kind of music, you have to have a certain kind of aggression, I suppose. I play metal all the time now; in some ways, much more extreme and crazy than this. But, you know, the 15-year-old me who was playing those riffs in that house had a completely different set of feelings. So it’s a very different approach to playing guitar.
I don’t even play guitar very much. The other thing that was new to me was the idea that we were going to be playing the whole set of this and all of these songs are going to be back to back with all this speed picking. It’s going to go on for like an hour and a half. Have I ever even done that? Ever played this kind of s–t for an hour and a half on stage before? No, not really. Not since I was 15. So re-learning instrument in a way meant sort of going back into that whole psychology, the whole headspace of when I was 15 and working on that demo.
And I’ll say this too: one thing we definitely did intentionally is that we intentionally disregarded everything else about Mr. Bungle when we were working on this. So even the next phase when we started playing ska and that kind of stuff, we were like, “No, no, no, no.” This is about 1985-86. And that is it. There’s nothing else going on here.
CBS SF: There is a touch of the weirdness and genre-splicing Bungle would later be known for in the change between the “La Cucaracha” part of “Hypocrites” that you play before going into your version of “Speak Spanish or Die,” but was the idea to focus on the thrash-metal aspect of Raging Wrath and sort of excise all the the ska elements of it?
Trey Spruance: Yes. And, in a way, the only parts to not be confined to the metal mindset that are present on what we’re doing now were present on the original tape, too. So we’re also being faithful to that. Because, first of all, the band is called Mr. Bungle and has a really stupid logo you know? It’s not very metal [laughs]. Secondly, the song title “Evil Satan,” it seems like it’s going to be the satanic metal song. Instead, it’s this goofy ass kind of funk song.
We didn’t end up playing that one, but those elements were there already in the very beginning. So, in a way, this is even more metal oriented. But you’re right. It still has some of that spirit that you’re talking about.
CBS SF: Did you manage much in the way of rehearsal before the tour? How much actual time together did the five of you get before playing live? And did you do the same kind of thing before entering the studio or did the live shows kind of cover that part of the preparation for the recording?
Trey Spruance: Yes, that was the whole plan from the beginning. Once we decided we were going to do a recording of it, the live shows would be the proof of concept and the place where we would be honing it completely as a real band with real chemistry and all of that. We actually only rehearsed for four or five days as a group before the first show.
But Trevor and Scott and I got together at his house for two days, I think, before just to make sure that all of the riffs were there and we were all hearing them the same way.
But before that, once the demos go out, everybody is working pretty hard on it, because it’s not exactly simple music and you’re not reading from a chart. So it all has to be memorized. For me, that was easy because I remembered all of it. But I’ll tell you, Scott Ian did his f—–g homework. He showed up to the rehearsals knowing everything; completely solid and completely faithful to the demos that I had made for him and instructional videos I’d sent and all that. He nailed everything. Just an absolute consummate pro.
Better than like…with Secrets Chiefs 3, I have the same kind of thing. I make demos for people and they show up prepared because there’s usually only one day of rehearsal, if that. It’s very much a jazz kind of thing. And, honestly, I wasn’t really expecting that to happen in a metal context. And then it happened better than ever! These guys, Scott Ian…Jesus, I couldn’t believe how well he had all of that stuff down. All the tempo changes, everything.
CBS SF: And from from what I’ve read, the recording sessions were only in the space of less than two weeks; like 10 or 12 days?
Trey Spruance: Yeah, if that. We all played in the room together like we had done at the shows. And I know for sure as far as the drums and bass there’s maybe four punches on the whole record on the bass. And the guitars are all live in the room. There’d be some egregious errors we would fix.READ MORE: Cal Fire Suspends Burn Permits In Northern California, North Bay Counties
Once we had a good take of the drums and the bass, we’d listen and see if there’s any huge problems with the guitars. And if there were, we’d fix them. That’s how we tracked it. Just take care of it when there’s a problem and move on to the next thing. So it all went really, really quick. Even some of the vocals were with Patton right in the room with us.
CBS SF: In re-recording Raging Wrath, obviously part of the idea is to not only execute it the way you would have liked to have back in ’86, but also record it at a higher fidelity than teenagers could manage with a demo. To my ears, it still sounds pretty raw. Was it a challenge to straddle the line of improving the fidelity while not completely losing the rawness the demo captured? Were you using some of those like ’80s thrash classics as touchstones as far as the sound you were going for?
Trey Spruance: Yeah, I mean I think our real boilerplate for it was Reign in Blood, you know? The Slayer record. Because of the complete transparency of it. It has so much punch to it. And it comes across as being very raw. It essentially fools the listener into thinking that it’s unproduced, but it’s Rick Rubin on pre-production and producing and Andy Wallace doing the engineering on that record. It’s not unproduced [laughs]!
It sounds that way and it has this f—–g incredible urgency and clarity to it. So the whole time we’re thinking that. That was the aesthetic we were going for: mid ’80s thrash; immediate urgency. You didn’t think about it too much, you just went in and made a record kind of thing.
CBS SF: I don’t even know if this is a fair question under the circumstances, as this was such a unique project and such a unusual version of the band, but how different was this recording from recording sessions for past Bungle albums?
Trey Spruance: I don’t think night and day are far enough apart from each other to use as an example of how different it was [laughs]. For me, just talking personally, on this record, I’m just a guitar player. I play guitar the whole time. That’s my role in the band. I don’t think I’ve ever done that ever. frankly [laughs]. Maybe on the Faith No More record, I did. That’s what I was doing.
But I don’t normally identify as a guitar player even. My main gig is composing, arranging and producing. And that’s true for Mr. Bungle and for all of Mr. Bungle’s history. So this was like, “No man, I’m just a guitar player, and f–k it, that’s all I’m thinking about.” And it’s enough to be thinking about just that.
Those other Mr. Bungle records, from the ground floor up, from start to finish, I’m planning out how we’re going to manage the tracks and how we’re going deal with the different limitations of the reels and stuff like that; what approach we’re going to take for each group of ensembles, what order everything’s going to be tracked in. Zero of that going on in this record. It was very refreshing, I have to say.
CBS SF: I guess there would be a lot less moving parts in this in this case. Makes sense.
Trey Spruance: But certainly no less detail demanded. There was a lot more demanded from me as an instrumentalist on this than any of the other Mr. Bungle records. And that’s something that, again, some of the fans who are like, “This isn’t boundary pushing” and “It’s not avant-garde.” You know? Yeah, well, OK, it’s in one genre.
But as far as people sometimes saying stuff like we’re not pushing ourselves or something, I mean, that’s a load of s–t. Those other records, musically speaking for me, were a f—–g cakewalk. This one was pretty hard as an instrumentalist. It’s a lot f—–g harder than any other Mr. Bungle record we ever made.
CBS SF: Also, as far as pushing boundaries goes, you could ask who else has done something like this? It’s unheard of, which is part of why I love it. Not only how great the final recording sounds and how great the live performance was, but just…what a crazy idea to go back and re-record a demo 35 years later with some of the people who originally inspired you. That in itself is a great idea, executed well.
Trey Spruance: I think that that’s just it. Amongst ourselves, that’s the thing that we end up being proud of, the fact that — and you were at the shows, so you know this — but people can f—–g gripe online about things, but I haven’t seen one person who was at the show say, “I wish I didn’t go to that show. That show sucked!” People can be showing up thinking that they’re going to see a ’90s version of a Mr. Bungle show and be bummed about that, but they didn’t go to that show and say, “Well, that show sucked! That was bullshit!”.
The beauty of it is that the band itself is quite good. The idea worked. It’s not just this novelty thing that we’re throwing at people. We worked hard to make this a good record and a good show and all that. And we’re pretty pleased that whole exuberance seems to have rubbed off on the people who experienced it live. Everybody who’s not hearing it live yet, they’re entitled to their opinion, whatever. That’s cool. But that’s not really the real story.
CBS SF: I figured that cost and possible litigation would prevent using the original Disney Chilling Sounds record sample that you used on the demo. How did you settle on the solution of having Rhea Pearlman do the narration? And I have to say that the howl that you used sounds almost exactly like the original. How did you do that? Did you just somehow recreate it and match it exactly the way the original sounds? Because that’s one of those sounds that’s so ingrained in my mind, and I know a lot of people’s minds from listening to that Disney record over and over as a kid every Halloween…
Trey Spruance: Yeah, having Rhea Pearlman do the narration on that was of a very…I mean, we were sort of wondering ourselves. We didn’t really have a plan. After a while, once we’re tracking we were like, “What are we gonna do about that?” And then the Rhea Perlman idea came up and she just knocked it out in a day. It was unbelievable. It sounded so perfect. And she just read the text. I don’t even know if she ever heard the original. I had to move a couple of timing things around, but it just worked out perfect.
The scream was kind of a hybrid. I think when we did it live, it was actually a sample of the sound and Patton doing the exact same thing on top of it. So that was pretty funny because he has it memorized, just every little element of that howl. Like what you just said, lots of kids who grew up with this thing, we know it. We know that sound really well. And he’s one of them, that’s for sure.
CBS SF: I wanted to get into some of the material that was not on the demo that’s featured on the album. Were “Methematics,” “Eracist” and “Glutton for Punishment written between Raging Wrath and Bowel of Chili in the timeline of the band? I know “Methematics” has that riff that ended up being incorporated into “Love Is a Fist” on the first album, so I figured it could have come later, but how did those songs not end up getting recorded earlier?
Trey Spruance: Each kind of has a different story. “Glutton for Punishment” was finished. All of the riffs and the lyrics and all that, Trevor had that finished, but he finished it after we had sort of decided on what was going on the demo. And the demo was long enough — it’s pretty long for a demo — so we just sort of assumed at that time that we would get to it on the next thing that we did before we sort of shifted gears more abruptly.
“Methematics,” he also had those riffs around for a while. That was not formalized into having lyrics, but those riffs, I remember them and I learned most of them and was looking forward to doing that song eventually. But I also think he didn’t have a full arrangement of it. I think he did some of the arranging more recently. But all of those riffs were written back then. And then the lyrics were done now. I think he asked Patton to do the lyrics.
And then “Eracist” is something where I just remembered those riffs. I don’t think there’s any tape of those. We have what we call the Graveyard of Riffs, which is mountains and mountains of ideas that we’ve all had that we’re all free to pick and choose from. That’s the way the riff from “Methematics” ended up in “Love Is a Fist.” With the Graveyard of Riffs it’s just open season. You can take what you want. If it’s an unused idea, you can use it.
The riffs from “Eracist” are from the Graveyard of Riffs, but that part of the graveyard is actually only in my head. And they’re Patton riffs that I just thought were so strong and so good, I never forgot them. So I just made a quick demo for him trying to jog his memory of the riffs, and he was like, “Oh yeah! Holy s–t!” And he came up with an arrangement of those riffs for what is now “Eracist.”
CBS SF: The chorus reminds me a bit of Killing Joke, which is not a band I’ve ever associated with Mr. Bungle, but that tune strikes me as maybe the one with the biggest hook on the whole album…
Trey Spruance: What we were thinking of those riffs back then was more like Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front, that New York hardcore type of sound. But it’s funny; the other ones are locked in to this thrash metal consciousness that we had at that time. And I know that when Patton was writing those riffs for “Eracist,” that he was definitely thinking Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front type of thing.
But since it was never formalized into a song, that’s the one song that ended up sounding kind of different and stands out a little bit as an anomaly. Because it never was really as a song back then. It was just these riffs. We didn’t really know how to go all the way back into being 15 on that one.
CBS SF: Was there any challenge as far as the muscle memory from years of playing “Love Is a Fist” to not veer into that song when you’d get to that riff playing “Methematics” as you first started working it out?
Trey Spruance: I’ll tell you the hard part of that. For some f—–g reason, there’s one note different on that riff between “Methematics” and “Love Is a Fist.” I don’t sit around playing Mr. Bungle, so I’d forgotten the difference. But it’s true, when I started learning it, the old habit came back of playing it the “Love Is a Fist” way. This one different note.
And I kept hearing it and going, “What the f–k?! What was that? What’s wrong here?” And I discovered that note was different and I brought it up to Trevor. And he was like, “Oh yeah! Yeah, I guess you’re right, huh?” I think maybe he’d probably transcribed it — dare I say — wrong when he did “Love Is a First” [laughs]. I think that’s what happened.
CBS SF: So with live music still on hold indefinitely with the pandemic, it’s hard to say when the band would be able to tour again. But I know I’ve seen at least one reference of Lombardo sayin he’s excited to take this to people live again. This obviously seems like a band that would completely destroy at European festivals during the summer. Is that something you’re looking towards or are you holding off on all planning until the picture becomes more clear?
Trey Spruance: I mean, we we certainly were. We were planning on doing some playing. So now, like you say, with everything up in the air, we can’t really say that we have formal plans. But certainly the will is there. There’s a lot of other things vying for attention. You know, like Patton has Faith No More wanting to do stuff. Everybody has bands that are aching to do stuff. I think my comment on that would be it’s lucky when something is on the level like Mr. Bungle is.
I couldn’t sit here and tell you, “Oh yes, Secret Chiefs are going to go out sometime next year,” because I think bands that are on that level are in a much more uncertain place because of what’s happened to venues and booking and all of that. I have no idea what the future holds for that kind of thing.
But for Mr. Bungle, I think it would be possible for us to do things; a lot more possible for us than for a lot of other bands, you know? I’m really, really thankful to be in at least one band that could probably do something next year. If it wasn’t for Bungle, I wouldn’t be able to do that.
CBS SF: The new album includes two covers that the band was playing live, and you played a number of other covers at the shows, mixing it up a bit for each show. Did you recorded the other tunes that you played live during that run? Or did you settle on which covers you wanted to record in the studio for the album before you actually went into the studio?
Trey Spruance: Yeah, we had. I guess it was sort of late in the rehearsing on our own process, but we had decided on what the covers were going to be probably a month or so before we got into the rehearsal room together. Everybody had ideas on that, but I will say that Patton is pretty good at coming up with cover song ideas.
At first you think, “Okay. Well, we could do different covers that would be more interesting or something sometimes…” But then, in the end, it’s always about the flow of the set and how things fit together and all of that. He’s really good at coming up with with a good variety of sides of the band that we can we can do, So I would say more than 50 percent of the cover songs was stuff that he came up with.
CBS SF: Covers have always been part of Bungle’s live shows, so I don’t think anybody was surprised that there were covers at the show. And just the fact that there was the possibility of both Slayer and Stormtroopers of Death tunes very likely in the mix after you announced the tour given who was involved, I was thrilled to get to hear this version of the band play any of that stuff.
But this is the first time you guys have actually recorded other people’s music in the studio. I could totally see this Bungle line-up doing its own version of Undisputed Attitude, the Slayer compilation of punk and metal covers. Is that that’s something that’s entered your head or been discussed as a possibility?
Trey Spruance: Well, we recorded all of those songs. So yeah, we could do it [laughs].
CBS SF: How are preparations going for the upcoming livestream the band is doing on Halloween? Are you rehearsing virtually or are you just going to try to get together for a couple days before that performance?
Trey Spruance: I haven’t played any of that stuff since we recorded it, so I’ve been rehearsing on my own and everybody else has been too, getting kind of back up to speed on it. And we’re going to assemble in the room and play through the set a couple times a day before we actually do it. So we’ll have one day of rehearsal, basically.
CBS SF: So where exactly are you doing it? Or are you keeping the location secret? I’m figuring it has to be a proper venue to accommodate the technical requirements for the livestream…
Trey Spruance: Yeah, we’re doing the rehearsal and the livestream from the same place. It was chosen for because we could assemble ourselves there well and make a good presentation, both with audio and visual stuff. We had a lot of different options. We have a lot of different venues that were making very nice offers, but where we settled was I think it’s definitely the right choice. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss it.
CBS SF: I think I just have a couple more questions if we can squeeze them in. I have to ask do you guys see yourselves at some point revisiting the Warner Brothers material, either with this lineup or maybe with the core of you three and new collaborators, or with the players who did those albums in the ’90?
Trey Spruance: If we were to do it, if that was going to ever happen, it would most certainly be with Danny [Heifetz, drummer] and with Bar [McKinnon, tenor saxophonist]. We wouldn’t have other band members, you know? That era and those records, that’s what the band was. That’s who’s in the band, and that’s who we would be. And I think for doing it live, sure we could add to that. We might augment that in some way if we were to do it. But that would be the core. The core would be that five-man team that it was during the ’90s.
CBS SF: Right. That makes sense. And I’m sure that’s what people would want, if it were to happen.
Trey Spruance: And that’s what we would want. In a way, this this thing that we’re doing is very Eureka. It really is kind of about Eureka and us being in Eureka. Danny and Bar weren’t in the band at that point and were never living in Eureka. They were in Arcata, the college town. And once we sort of expanded our genre horizons, let’s say, we started playing in Arcata — we never once played in Eureka, to be honest, because no no venue would ever have us there.
So the more let’s say educated or sophisticated listeners, however you want to think of it, in Arcata, that became kind of a little bit more of our musical stomping ground. And when those guys were ready to be part of the band, it had shifted gears into a kind of a different mode at that point. That’s another thing that maybe people don’t quite understand about this, and the lineup thing too. It’s like, “No, this is a Eureka record about the Eureka period of Mr. Bungle.”
CBS SF: While I’m sure this Mr. Bungle project will be keeping you occupied, especially once live concerts are viable again, I’m also wondering what your plans are for Secret Chiefs 3? What is the timeline for the next Secret Chiefs album? And I had a couple friends who specifically told me, “All this Bungle stuff is great, but find out who’s playing drums on the next Secret Chiefs 3 album!”
Trey Spruance: That’s the funny thing: I have two Secret Chiefs records and they’re both f—–g crazy metal records. I started working on them like four years ago or something. Way before we had this idea about doing the Raging Wrath stuff. It kind of came up in the middle of it. So one of those records is almost…I say “almost finished.” I still have to record the choir, which is huge. But. they’re f—–g crazy records. And the thing about Secrets Chiefs is, yeah, we probably won’t be playing live anytime soon, but there are some records that are coming. That’s for sure.
And as usual, I have kind of an embarrassment of riches in the drum department. It’s Kenny Grohowski. It’s John Merryman, the original Holy Vhem drummer. Also there’s a guy Lee Smith who’s really good. There’s a lot of drums. There’s a lot of crazy things going on on those records. It’s a very different beast than the Bungle metal stuff.MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: Parents Will Soon Get A Monthly Check, But For How Much?
For more information on the new Mr. Bungle album, visit the Ipecac Recordings website. For information on the Halloween livestream, visit MrBungle.live to find out about purchasing virtual tickets and special limited edition merchandise. For more information on Secret Chiefs 3, visit the Web of Mimicry website or the Secret Chiefs 3 bandcamp page.