Often bands that are referred to as ‘ahead of their time’ are lumped into the basket simply because people can’t understand their musical vision and/or output.
But when that term is used on a band 10 years or more after their inception, the plot thickens just a little. With the benefit and time and hindsight, today’s WTF musical outfit can eventually be classed as innovative and groundbreaking, it’s really all down to perception.
There are, however, exceptions to the rule. Bands that were truly of a different sonic sphere to others at the time and remain that way many years later.
Bands such as Led Zeppelin and Rage Against The Machine spring to mind, but one possibly above all others is an outfit by the name of Mr. Bungle.
Formed by three friends still in high school – Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn and Mike Patton – Mr. Bungle defied convention from the outset, blending sounds and genres like rarely heard before and creating a genre of music as unclassifiable to this day as it was back in 1985.
Over three albums and four demos, Mr. Bungle maintained their experimental stance of creating music, building an underground following that swelled even more when Patton joined Faith No More in 1988.
But, as generally happens when such creative forces are exposed for a prolonged period of time, Mr. Bungle found themselves at a crossroads approaching the turn of the century and parted ways, with each member moving on to other projects. Bungle became one of those bands where people spoke with reverence of actually seeing them play live, most hoping for, but never believing a reunion would one day come to pass.
In 2020 fans around the world rejoiced as rumblings morphed into reality and Mr. Bungle were ready to once more assume their place at the head of the class. Only there was to be changes in personnel. And not just any new members, either.
Anthrax‘s Scott Ian joined the original trio on guitar while Dave Lombardo (Slayer) assumed duties behind the drum kit and a supergroup of sorts was (re) born.
Rather than write new material with the five new creative minds, Mr. Bungle started things off the way they always had – on their own terms – by re-recording and releasing their debut EP The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny. It was a bold and unexpected move that emphatically declared Bungle were still unwilling to follow convention, and the resulting success of the release ensured live shows would follow.
Which has invariably led Mr. Bungle back to this side of the world, where they will be kicking off a run of shows in Auckland on March 3 before heading to Australia for five capital city shows.
HEAVY caught up with guitarist Trey Spruance earlier today to find out more.
“It’s great,” he smiled when asked how he felt about returning to Australia. “Let’s see… for Mr. Bungle, this is our third time… but I think it’s our first time playing in New Zealand, so that will be new territory for us. Right before that we’ll be in Japan, but Australia has always been a stronghold for Mr. Bungle fandom, so it’s great to be able to come back with this band. I’ve been back with other bands since then, and I was never sure that Mr. Bungle would make it back. It’s very cool that we’re able to do it.”
We press Trey on what fans can expect from the shows.
“They have never heard this part of the band,” he offered. “Well, they have through the internet, but they have never experienced this live. The death metal assault. It’s full-on fucking speed metal. A really crazy, fast show (laughs). It’s nothing like we did before. If they are expecting a whole bunch of genre shifting… I would say that’s not going to happen, but we do actually play a bunch of cover songs. You’re not gonna go and see a death metal band and see what Mr. Bungle does with the death metal experience, that’s for sure.”
In the full interview, Trey talks more about the shows, what the band expects from their crowds, how different their current live show is from what people would have seen on previous visits, bringing the Melvins as support and why, the formation of Mr. Bungle and their early vision, where their sound came from initially, the writing process that sees himself, Trevor Dunn and Mike Patton make music together, their self-titled debut album and how they approached it, their musical journey over that album and follow up’s Disco Volante and California, their parting in 2000 and if he was satisfied with Mr. Bungle’s achievements to that point, reforming 20 years later with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo, re-recording The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny instead of writing new music, what he feels Mr. Bungle has contributed to the music scene and more.