What is a Hate Camel?
HATE CAMEL = CURMUDGEON as described by comedian Bill Hicks in his final performance. (Curmudgeon = “a crusty, ill-tempered and usually old man”-Webster’s)
HATE CAMELS = a “Life Metal/Death Comedy/Jazz” band led by keyboardist Geoff Cleveland and also featuring Dave Devine-guitars, Paul McDaniel-bass and Mike Whited-drums (sometimes Chuck Roy-comedy). Cleveland, a jazz musician by trade, decided age 43 was a good time to start a band that rocks with influences of Fantomas, Mastodon, Candiria and many others as well as expressing the inspiration from artists outside the music world, particularly comedians and satirists. Cleveland’s previous bands include The Emergency Broadcast Players, a critically-acclaimed avant-jazz collective which included trumpeter Shane Endsley and bassist Kaveh Rastegar (currently of Kneebody) as well as trumpeter Ron Miles, and tissues4issues, co-led by vocalist Sunny Kim (currently of Prana Trio and Myth of Mitch).
What are “Death Comedy Jams”?
DEATH COMEDY JAMS = INSTRUMENTAL TRIBUTES TO DEAD COMEDIANS
Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005)-A warm-spirited comedian w/ hilarious material that his fans are reminded of everyday (especially when at the grocery store).
Richard Pryor (1940-2005)-Considered the best of all time. Master of pathos.
Sam Kinison (1953-1992)-Went from preaching in churches to screaming obscene hilarities in auditoriums.
Lenny Bruce (1925-1966)-Broke doors down and blew doors down. Also known for having his spirit beaten senseless by “the man”.
Bill Hicks (1962-1994)-Honored as a legend in the UK but not known nearly enough in his native country the US. Maybe because the truths he told are so often supPRESSed.
Andy Kaufman (1949-1984)-Liked to play tricks on people and didn’t like being called a comedian.
What is (one piece of) Life Metal?
A metal-anthem tribute to Cleveland’s goddaughter Bella, titled “Peaceful Queen”.
Does the “Death Comedy Jams…” CD come with a spiffy “insert booklet”?
Yes. There is an 8-page “insert booklet” with photos and artwork related to the comedians honored as well as notes from comedians Chuck Roy & Lynn Shawcroft.
What do comedians have to say about Hate Camels and “Death Comedy Jams”?
“I just checked out the song. It’s amazing…Mitch would be sooo flattered. Mitch was inspired by music. And he loved musicians. He would be happy to know that a great musician like Geoff Cleveland was inspired by comedy in the same way.”
Lynn Shawcroft (widow of Mitch Hedberg)
“…the power bass tracks jam in brain for days!!! The guitar work shreds, the drums crush and the nut on the keyboards brings it-like Pryor, like Hedberg, like Kinison-because when you say those names you have to.” Chuck Roy
“You guys tore it up!” Josh Blue (Last Comic Standing winner 2006)
What do other composers of instrumental tributes have to say?
“I love the idea and the unique way you’ve pulled it off. I can appreciate your hard work in creating the right tone and your dedication to these important figures.”
RADIO KRUD REVIEW by Rival Dave
More often than not here at Radio KRUD, we write about bands that derive their sound from multiple musical discourses. It’s hard to pin them down to one single musical style and say, “Now their sound is defined and there’s not much else that needs to be said.” Well, today’s band is particularly genre defying. In fact, before I even continue with this post, I challenge you to predict the sound of a jazz band who lists Meshuggah and Mastodon as their primary influences. Well, that kind of eccentric mixture is what you get from the Hate Camels, and I guarantee that their music will go way beyond whatever insane sound you have concocted in your head based on what I’ve already said about them.
You just have listen to their album Death Comedy Jams…and one piece of life metal. The title is pretty self-explanatory when you see the track listing:
1. Mitch Hedberg
2. Richard Pryor
3. Sam Kinison
4. Lenny Bruce
5. Bill Hicks
6. Andy Kaufman
7. Peaceful Queen
That last track is the “one piece of life metal.” In case you were wondering, yes, it’s a concept album. Each song basically acts as a tribute/theme song for its respective comedian, so keep in mind the person and their work when listening to the music. If you’re familiar with any of these comedians, then these songs are that much better because of how intricate a portrait they paint. For example, “Mitch Hedberg” has kind of an easy-going and trippy quality to it while “Sam Kinison” is the most aggressive track on the album and “Andy Kaufman” gets very weird in some parts.
Even if you’re not a fan of most or any of these comedians, this is still some incredibly well-crafted jazz that you can enjoy listening to. This album is quite experimental, which is kind of a “no duh” statement seeing as it melds elements of classic jazz and heavy metal. And it’s all instrumental, so there aren’t any deep growls or throaty howls to be found for those of you who find heavy metal vocals to be a bit overbearing. I think most of the metal influence comes from the more aggressive delivery and some of the crunchiness found in the tunes. Geoff Cleveland, the composer, must be some sort of musical genius to combine such bipolar styles and make the end result work as well as it does.
If you’re still not certain whether this is something you would be into, then let me tell you what Mitch Hedberg’s wife, Lynn Shawcroft, had to say after hearing the track named after her late husband, “I just checked out the song. It’s amazing… Mitch would be sooo flattered. Mitch was inspired by music. And he loved musicians. He would be happy to know that a great musician like Geoff Cleveland was inspired by comedy in the same way.” Let me echo her sentiments by saying that this is great, innovative music and is doubly entertaining if you’re a fan of any of these comedic icons. Get this album.