“Attila undoubtedly is the worst album released in the history of rock & roll – hell, the history of recorded music itself. There have been many bad ideas in rock, but none match the colossal stupidity of Attila.”
— Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Music Critic.
In the summer of 1969, after what one can only assume was the result of the ingestion of massive amounts of mind altering substances — Billy Joel decided that what the world really needed was a heavy metal keyboard band.
No.. You read that right.
A heavy metal keyboard band.
Essentially Joel (with the help of his manager, who figured out a method by which to run a Hammond organ through a Marshall stack) teamed up with a drummer by the name of Jon Small. And went on tour. Playing heavy metal piano music. Dressed like members of the barbarian horde.
I swear to god I’m not making this up. This was a thing. It happened. And it was fucking horrifying.
The group, such as it was, lasted for all of just about a year. It ended when Billy ran off with Small’s wife. Probably because rehearsals would have been awkward after that. Hah.. Okay.. Let’s be honest.. There’s no way they rehearsed that shit. They just snorted a ton of coke and then descended on whatever venue was unlucky enough to host them that night.
Newly formed in the molten pit of Norfolk’s pulsating music scene: Daikini has nothing to do with Attila. Other than the fact that Tyler Warnalis playing bass while wearing a lizard mask for some reason reminds me of Billy Joel dressed as a Hun. Don’t ask me why. I’ve done a lot of drugs.
In the past.. I mean. Not tonight. A long time ago.
I’m a respectable citizen now.
What exactly is a Daikini? Like.. a cross between a dashiki and a bikini? The new burqa? Who knows.
Daikini, the band? It’s.. Well..
It’s a supergroup.
I’m full on aware of the ridiculousness of referring to a band comprised of members of other bands that the vast majority of the country have never heard of as a supergroup. But whether or not a band is a supergroup is a matter of neither fame nor fortune.
Are the members of the group in question key parts of other bands? Yes. Are those bands well known / well thought of in their respective theaters of operation? Yes. So there you have it.
Daikini fuses together bits and pieces from some kickass local bands. Pain in the Yeahs. Hexist. Dj P & Mr T. Tendril. Alexi Zeren. Scoughs. And last but not least, the stalwart Mas Y Mas.
Is this band for everyone? Not at all. Am I already a little bit in love with their sound? Absolutely.
There’s another thread tying these guys to the aforementioned Attila: This is a group of musicians indulging in a desire to play something more hardcore then they might have an opportunity to through their respective homebase projects. To use a different analogy?
Tyler Warnalis plays Clapton to James Wagner’s Jack Bruce in Norfolk’s indie version of Cream — which was, of course: the first rock superband. Benjamin Briggs plays the role of Ginger Baker, backing them up on drums and I’m pretty sure that was Vinny Mas shredding over on the side of the stage. I don’t know who he represents in Cream, cause Cream only had three members. And I say “pretty sure” cause he appears to have shaved his head since the last time I saw him, and I didn’t get a chance to chat with him after the show. He didn’t seem to recognize me when I said hi to him. But who knows? Could be him, but might not be. My memory for faces is shit. And I’m getting up there in years. If it was some other dude? My apologies to whoever you are.
That Ginger Baker tried to stab Jack Bruce prior to the formation of Cream should in no way reflect on our hometown lads. The metaphor only stretches so far, of course. And besides — Cream was an amped up blues band. Daikini appears to skew towards an iteration of a punk sound, mixed together with the black, bleak heart of a death metal growl.
Superbands tend to end up faltering under the weight of disparate egos, but these cats seem to genuinely like each other. James Wagner talks about how they got together:
“I put out feelers on the internet, wanting to start a danceable but abrasive punk band. You know.. W.A.S.A.B.I., Moving Units. Gang of Four. It did not end up that way at all. Um.. You can tell we like Post-Punk. You can tell we like Jesus and Mary Chain. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Jesus Lizard. That’s how I feel about it. I think that happened without really even talking about it. That kind of listenable noise rock range, because we like noisy music with hookable choruses.”
“We want to write a couple more songs. Definitely we’re going to record immediately. Like as soon as we can. We’ve all been in more serious bands.. This band gives us a release that’s a lot of fun. Ben and Tyler are doing amazing things.”
To be real, this was a first show. And it had all the earmarks of a band looking for its feet. I tend to leave the report card at home for a group’s first outings — but there’s an energy here that my heart responds to. Wagner is immensely likable as a front man. Warnalis exhibits a surlier side on his bass than what comes through in DJp & Mr T that works well for him. Ben Briggs is a wild man at the kit. Whoever it was on the git chilling up against the wall was blistering. Vinny? Was that you, man? Let me know!
Up next is another show on September 5th. A super sekrit show with Pill and Clary Sage in an undisclosed location. Very likely, somebody’s house. If you dig hardnose punk with a catchy hook, you should ask around and find out where to show up for it.
Verdict: There’s much to like about Daikini. Whether they’re a band for your ears mostly depends on how hard you like it, but if you love to thrash? Check these guys out. I’m looking forward to seeing what they grow into.
There were other bands playing this night: Wandcarver. Listening Girl, and Thera Roya from out of Brooklyn. I’ll talk about these in a later column.
“ATTILA!!! Marching over people. Crushing! Bruising. Making them look and listen!!! RRrrrrAAAAHHHHH!!!”
Man.. The 70s were a hell of a drug.
**edit** — Apologies to Nicholas Perritt, lead guitarist, whom I somehow managed not to get a photo of and therefore completely forgot he was up there. I’m getting old kids. The mind wanders.