Oklahoma, the Sooner state - as in, the sooner you're out of there the better - was not where the members of Woodpussy wanted to spend the rest of their lives, so they came to Los Angeles to find jobs and form a band. But Oklahoma pervaded everything they tried to do.
"Generally, when we play we make the place as much like Oklahoma as possible," says guitarist Jason Hadley. "A lot of things aren't really handed to you there in terms of art and entertainment, unlike in L.A., where someone says, 'What do you want to do tonight?' and you have 18 different clubs you could go sit and drink at. In Oklahoma, you have to do a lot of things on your own in order to be entertained and in order to make anything really strange happen. So that's helped us in the sense that, when we perform, we try and do a whole environment. It's an extravaganza, and somehow Oklahoma forces us to do it that way."
Woodpussy (it's a Southern slang term for skunk) has progressed over the last six years from a purely noisy, half-naked barbecue-gone-wrong with the occasional hot dog sticking out of someone's butt into a heavily percussive, Crash Worship-y, Jesus Lizard-like ensemble that redecorates clubs to make them look more like Oklahoma or someplace scarier. a
"Part of the fun of the band is that nobody knew what was going to happen, even within the band," says Hadley. "Nobody knew what anybody else was going to wear or be trying to pull off or stick in their ass. And then we did a couple of themed shows, and that made it a lot more cohesive for us. There's a common theme we're working toward: making this place look like Wetumka Swamp or like the hills where the Bigfoot films have been shot."
Any Sasquatch enthusiast would have been in heaven at the latest Woodpussy shindig at Club Sucker, which involved five or so of the hairy hulks chasing a shrieking schoolgirl through the club and ripping off her clothes while a huge load of fake snow dumped from above. As the crowd became immersed in the spectacle, the Bigfoots formed a friendly slam pit and audience members writhed along with them. Finally, there seemed to be a real connection, a breakthrough between humankind and these mythical beasts.
The conglomeration of lighting effects, primitive Okie rhythms and the artificial environments Woodpussy creates has drastic effects on the band's audiences, causing them to lose their clothes and their inhibitions.
"At the Hong Kong Cafe circa '94," says singer Gordon Holmes, "to the front and left of the stage, there's this couple copulating - in Oklahoma, we call it fucking - Greek-style, I think, and to the right of the stage, Bob Lee from Claw Hammer had a fire extinguisher and he was bashing it into one of the support beams of the club and he had the thing bent in half and it was about to explode. It was beautiful. I never got to thank them."
Devoted fans can easily join Woodpussy, though there are seven regular members, including the Hadley brothers, cousin Todd on drums, and bassist Michel Cicero, whom the Woodpussy boys found in Indian City and persuaded to come to California.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Our original bass player and other guitar player were from L.A., which is probably why they didn't last," says Hadley. "You sort of have to want to be from Oklahoma to put up with this, so the core musical element of the band has stayed pretty much the same. And then we recruit, beg and borrow other morons who will exploit themselves for the purpose of . . . art."
For now, if you want the full Oklahoma experience, you'll have to check out Woodpussy live, since they've recorded next to nothing, though things have really come together musically and they sound not unlike a real band.
"We have one single that came out five years ago that I recommend no one buy, because it's so out-of-date and the guy who put it out is a little weasel," says Hadley. "We'd love to put out a record and we'd love to tour, but we don't necessarily want to be in the music business. If we can do it on our own terms and do it the way we want to, fantastic. There are a lot of games you have to play to be a band on tour with a record. All of a sudden you're working for the company that released it, and that to me seems a little wacky."
Woodpussy appears with Seemen at Moguls on Saturday, June 6.