When downtown art-rock stalwarts Coocoohandler joined forces with James Godwin s avant-puppet ensemble The Elementals to create Uncle Jimmys Dirty Basement, no-one knew what to expect. Over the past several years of live performances the two groups have fused together to create a unique rock-theater hybrid. The Dirty Basement combines the irreverence of Frank Zappa, the hipster irony of They Might Be Giants and the theatricality of Alice Cooper with surreal, imaginative and bawdy puppetry. Both excellent musicians and extraordinary puppeteers, Uncle Jimmys Dirty Basement is a one-of-a-kind spectacle, an ongoing, always-changing post-punk art-rock cabaret.
How long have you been doing Uncle Jimmys Dirty Basement and how did the idea originate?
Uncle Jimmy started at the Henson Puppet Fest cabaret in 2000.The Elementals were asked to host and curate, and we in turn asked these crazy musicians we know called Coocoohandler to join us as the house band. I thought it would be easier to have a human character to host in case we needed to cover any transitions and Uncle Jimmy was born (Named in honor of my recently departed real life Uncle Jimmy)
How does this show differ from the Uncle Jimmy shows of the past?
This show differs in that it is a more completely realized and streamlined version of our various bits and components. Being able to rehearse the band and the puppetry together has helped us to unify the characters and the action with the music and the set. Plus this show is going to rock even more awesomely.
Music plays a big part in your show. What are your musical influences?
My personal influences are Tom Waits, Mr. Bungle, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Foreigner, Prince, Queens Of The Stone Age, Kate Bush, Captain Beefheart. The band, and show in general have all this and some Zappa, Chili Peppers, P-Funk, Mars Volta, Whitesnake, Sun Ra, Queen, and Bread.
Which of the puppets is your favorite?
My favorite Puppet is hard to pin down, but if forced to choose, I would have to say Mungo. He has been to so many places and in so many different situations, He met Steven Tyler of Aerosmith for chrissakes! He always Rocks with his funky dancing thang. Runner- up would be the Bedbug, cause she is just so creepy and insectile and she was a real challenge to build.
What are you up to next?
Next for me is just a matter of opportunity. I read the signs and act accordingly. Hopefully continue the basement, cause there is a mountain of material we haven’t realized yet, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.