The Interdimensional Vortex League is a musical collective made up primarily of visual artists, many of whom enjoy musical parody and satirical humor. Members hail from different areas of the country, inhabit differing levels of social strata, and represent a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds. Some members have engaged in academic work in music history, folklore, and ethnomusicology, and draw upon such sources in order to create a cross-cultural sound.
The LEAGUE was originally started deep in the UFO-infested hills of Appalachia in the early 1970s, in an area known, eerily, as the "Transylvania Territory." Its founder was Andy Colvin, a witness to the mysterious Mothman creature, who told Colvin that he needed to start a band. Since the sighting came at a locally known "interdimensional vortex," the name of the band came easy. Colvin's early cohort in this endeavor was a computer/synthesizer wizard, the pseudonymous "Jim Tabasco" who, in later life, is rumored to have performed classified work for the intelligence community.
Together, Colvin and Tabasco engaged in devious prank calls to loved ones and high government officials, using the recordings as material for songs and for their radio show, "The Jim Tabasco Hour," which aired sporadically on late-night AM radio in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Some of their pranks included showing up bloodied at fast-food restaurants calmly requesting "extra tartar sauce," making outrageous claims in academic circles that "the Mayans had Xerox machines," and performing "social oblivion" experiments where fans were asked to sit in mirrored "waiting rooms" tolerating strange gasses, repetitious audiovisual cues, and horrible, "experimental" snack foods during "the show."
Over time, the Tabasco Hour became a cult hit due its odd mix of juxtaposed skits, such as "How to Baptize Animals," "Neonatal Care for Yeti/Human Hybrids", and "Door and Window Replacement for Supposed Citizens of Northern Canada and Alaska," as well as its "urgent, indispensable" advice on topics such as "How to Bring the Olympics to the Coalmines," "Reverse Exorcism in Everyday Life," and ways to "Make a Million Bucks Pretending to be Faux-British." Recurring skits that were particularly popular were the sex advice column, "Interdimensional Romance," (on how to date "rocket scientists and otherworldly spirits"), the political muckraking column, "Interspecies Contact Punch" (featuring debates between a Luddite hillbilly and a Madison Avenue public relations specialist), and "Faith Healing Through Car Repair" (self-explanatory).
The show explored all of the kooky religions it could find, bringing listeners spiritual advice from "Way, Way Far Above the Far East," "Fundamentalist Christian Snake-Bandaging Fundamentals," and an intricate, tedious, and seemingly expensive self-help series, lasting months, called "How to Speak in Tongues in One Easy Lesson." The focus on bizarre spiritual practices brought the band into early contact with the Church of the SubGenius, which had its roots in the Ohio Valley. A skit called "Charlie Manson's Tattoo Tips" reportedly engendered a few calls from reputed members of the Manson Family, which also had a branch in the area.
As word of their fame spread, the LEAGUE came upon an erudite, mysterious, and wildly eccentric being called "Scabby Plooney," who claimed to have a direct connection to God. Plooney variously called himself a "doctor," "preacher," "writer," and "politician," and delighted in playing practical jokes on young and old. While Plooney appeared at first to be a real human being, his odd appearances and disappearances made some wonder if he wasn't an "ultraterrestrial," "spaceman," or "Man in Black." Since Plooney bore a marked resemblance to Jim Morrison, many thought he actually WAS Jim Morrison - that Morrison had faked his own death.
(Strangely, somewhere around the year 2000, the LEAGUE played a show at a retreat center in Vancouver, B.C. with the drummer for the Doors, John Densmore - who claims he still communicates with Morrison. That same year, Colvin was miraculously healed by a Contra shaman in Mazunte, Mexico, after a serious, back-breaking fall. After seeing a "burning lotus" vision inspired by the shaman's healing session, Colvin was inducted into the Mexican Illuminati, which has greatly increased the band's presence in Latin America.)
Even more strangely, it seems that once contact is made with Scabby Plooney, he is able to manifest WITHIN other band members for short durations. Plooney's influence seems to have given rise to some interesting song material, most of which centers around "mind control" - the use of tones and subtextual content designed to uplift the human race by causing spontaneous kundalini in "chosen" individuals. International spies and secret societies have shadowed the band ever since, hoping to steal its mojo and return our great nation to slavery. Despite all of this surrounding greatness - or perhaps because of it - questions were eventually raised about the Tabasco Show's extensive fundraising tactics for seemingly nonexistent causes, and the show was taken off of the air.
The band's trajectory took it through several cities over the years, where it was always mindful to set up near a sacred vortex or power spot, or above an underground base or mind control facility. When music magazines later asked about this peculiarity, it was explained that this was the best way to catch a glimpse of Bigfoot, Mothman, or Reptilian Aliens such as "Jehovah 1, the Supreme God of the Subgenii." Other strange practices of the band came to light, such as their "naked-eye observations of quantum particles" and their many "sleep-deprivation" experiments, which were said to be necessary for the band to achieve its goal of "playing the longest show in history." One of the best techniques for staying awake, according to the band, was to "eat Fruit Loops with Sprite, not milk."
It may indeed be true that the LEAGUE played the longest show in history (see next paragraph), but this is not their only achievement. The band was an early experimenter in "analog sampling," and was probably the first band to record an album entirely on a mono-signal Radio Shack cassette deck. Later, the band became one of the first groups to record an album completely on a laptop computer (using the built-in microphone only), and to shoot music videos on an iPhone. In the 1970s, the band actually recorded a song over a "suitcase" cellphone, an expensive item that was totally unavailable outside of the intelligence circles that the band happened to swim in when visiting the local country-club pool. Speaking of pools, the band also claimed to be the first group to record a song "completely underwater in a stainless steel chamber."
In Cincinnati, Ohio, in the early 1980s, the band took on new members, such as The Cuban Slide, Octonasia, Polysphere, P52 Kotter-Wu Onslu, and Dave A. Scott, thus solidifying its form and "brand" (mind control). At this juncture, the band was doing a "performance art" type of mind-control music, which involved mostly improvised, spontaneous shows, some performed behind camouflaged walls (out of sight from the viewers), or from the back of a closed van (with speakers on top). The latter technique was, in essence, the birth of the "flash mob" phenomenon, which is still popular today. The band also engaged in lengthy performances in art galleries and museums, sometimes playing for days at a time. However, once these venues realized that such shows were costing them thousands of dollars, the gravy train stopped. The city of Cincinnati also turned more conservative at that time, due to the Larry Flynt and Robert Mapplethorpe lawsuits, leaving our intrepid LEAGUE with nowhere to go (but with plenty of museum/gallery cash in their pockets).
All the while, the band remained close to its SubGenius roots. When the band moved to Austin, TX in 1982, it took on a leftist "grundge" character that offended the sleepy faux-gressives of that bucolic town, who thought Central Texas held claim to the "slack" of the SubGenius Church (which had temporarily relocated from Ohio to Dallas). When Colvin tried to spread the "true slack" message of the Subgenii (which is about showing regular "working folk" how to get by without working), he found that his message was repeatedly hijacked by the wealthy, contented oil kids in Texas, who were pretending to be Slackers (an easy task, since they don't have to work anyway).
Even though the LEAGUE reached out to local bands, engaging in projects with the likes of Ed Hall, the Butthole Surfers, and Squat Thrust, and even though one of Colvin's songs, "Sedrick," became the theme song for the cult film "Slacker," it was of little use. Colvin's many political rants and onstage antics (like being tied to a doghouse or singing through an "animal carcass"), as well as his depiction of oilmen and terrorists as "working together," angered the "liberals" in the local music community. This was the start of the notorious "Slack Wars," which rampaged through Austin until the national "SXSW" music overlords brought things back under control.
As one local music insider said, "Andy was just too controversial for Austin. Even though he was completely nonviolent, Andy and his ideas were considered much more dangerous than, say, Daniel Johnston, who actually bashed someone's head in with a lead pipe." After being attacked onstage, having shows censored, and being pillaged in the press by the many "Normals" and agent-provocateurs in the Austin scene, the LEAGUE held an emergency "interdimensional team meeting," where it made a crucial interdimensional decision.
Hounded and rejected for criticizing Big Oil in a town filled with oil heirs, the band decided to resettle in Seattle for the 1990s, where it continued its "grundge" arc free of trouble. By complete random chance, Colvin was hired for his visual skills by members of bands such as REM, Nirvana, and Hole. Colvin was able to share his many demos of "mind-control grundge" with these up-and-coming bands, helping to set off the Seattle Grundge explosion.
However, after the LEAGUE discovered that it was not going to get a real piece of the grundge money-pie, the band went in an opposite direction: recording "unplugged" music - a staple of their early days in Ohio. But by then it was too late. Interdimensional Vortex League was now on the national music syndicate's radar, and ripe for plucking. After surveilling LEAGUE recording sessions, industry executives instantly foisted the terrible "unplugged" era of music on the public. Colvin, for his part, "apologized" for this social tragedy through the usual media outlets, but was it a real apology? Colvin had long vowed, following the Slack Wars, to "control the listening audiences of Texas forever." Everyone thought this was a joke, but was it really?
Soon after their re-excursion into unplugged music, the LEAGUE went in yet a different direction, which Colvin called "clinical trance" music - supposedly a "direct revelation" from the "Mind of Plooney." No one liked the name, but they did like the new electronic groove that the LEAGUE (and the Mind of Plooney) had created, due to the help of its new West Coast associates: Aaron and Andrea Chang, Marc Trujillo, John Schwartz, Dave Elvin, and DJs Novocaine132 and Barnmaster Scud.
During this period, Interdimensional Vortex League received widespread airplay on college radio, and was featured on Los Angeles radio in conjunction with the 1999 Oscar Awards. On that fateful night, the band is rumored to have appeared at Oscar after-parties wearing large eyeball heads with triangular pupils. Was this a good-natured jab at their competitors in quirky music (The Residents), or was the LEAGUE engaging in the very "doppelganger chaos magic" they had forsworn years earlier, after being questioned by the FBI for impersonating famous people on the phone?
The LEAGUE was riding high as the century ended but, as the saying goes, one needs to "paper up to get paid." Again, music-industry "suits" were lying in wait, and immediately gobbled up the band's new "trance" invention. Watered-down forms of this trance music are still played today on stations like KEXP in Seattle/NYC, and have infected a large portion of the Austin music community, the SXSW crowd, and the West Coast scene.
Unfortunately, the "subversive element" is missing from much of the stuff one hears on "alt radio" venues today. However, the rebel spirit is NOT missing from the LEAGUE. This is why the band was named "America's Most Underground Band" by a fancy music magazine in Europe, and why they are starting to be recognized as the innovators they really are. At times now, they even get paid. It seems Interdimensional Vortex League may have gotten its revenge, after all.
-Ben Camp, Taos Public Radio