Then, in characteristic Heads and Bodies fashion, the band members begin talking all at once:
Glatt: "It's hard to carve a pumpkin and make it fit your head."
Malmberg: "It's also hard to hear the shit going on [around you] when you have a pumpkin on your head. We didn't think about ear holes."
Payne: "Mine was kind of like a pumpkin crown because it broke."
Stewart: "Hers was the best, because it went around her neck and she just had a stem on top of her head."
Malmberg: "It's really confusing, the noise you hear inside a pumpkin."
Heads and Bodies were talking like this when I first met them outside the Fuck By Fuck You festival in Austin, earlier this year. Held at an outdoor space called the Chicken Wire Ranch, which looked sort of like a shantytown version of a public square, FXFY was the city's punk-rock rebuke of the giant music-industry office party known as South By Southwest, and H and B were the first band to go on. Everyone but the clarinetist got naked during that show--and that wasn't the first time the band played au naturel in Texas.
"We got naked every day on the first tour," says Payne, "mostly in the van."
"There's a lot of nakedness in the Funmobile," says Stewart.
"We think it's funny to see your friends get naked," adds Malmberg. "It's not really a sexual thing, it's just a kind of camaraderie."
Is it hard for Payne to be the only woman in a band with four guys who want to be in the buff all the time?
"No, I think it's funny," she says.
As Payne remembers it, one trip to Austin involved playing the neighborhood pub Lovejoy's in the afternoon for a $50 bar tab, at happy-hour prices. The band tore off two songs, she says, then proceeded to sit down and drink through the tab in 30 minutes. By the time the group showed up to play a house party that night, they were ready to strip--even Payne, who took her shirt off as the audience spat beer at the band.
"[A friend] told me that every time [Newberg] hit the bass drum his wiener would bounce off his stool," says Malmberg of the drummer.
"That was when you got engaged," Stewart reminds Newberg.
"Was that the night?" Newberg asks. He explains that he was briefly--for less than 24 drunken hours--"engaged" to an ex-girlfriend of Stewart's. The arrangement involved exchanging rings made of cigarette wrappers, which they put on the wrong fingers.
"I was pretty depressed 'cause the last time we went down there, she already had a new man in her life," Newberg says.
"Maybe you should have called her," Malmberg offers.
"I was waiting to go down there and be reacquainted and get ripped apart this time," Newberg says. "But I didn't get any of that."
What was it like the first time he met her?
"A night of pure ecstasy," he says, hinting that he's somewhat of a masochist. "I'd get used up and just be spit out."
"Have you ever seen a Beetle Bailey comic where he gets all crumpled up? That's what he looked like," says Malmberg. And everyone laughs.
In the Funmobile, on the way back to the downtown rehearsal space, the band blast Dillinger Four on the stereo and talk about tour life. Glatt, who always drives, mostly ignores the goofy stories. The others explain that they draw tattoos on each other with Sharpies to stave off road boredom. "Merle and Sean drew these huge cocks on my arms," says Malmberg. "So I went in to take a piss in the rectory, and there was this older guy with his little daughter, and I didn't even know there were these cocks on there."
"And these big trucker dudes came in," adds Newberg, clearly proud of his work, though he later got his: On a trip from Fargo to Duluth, the band decided to write the names of every river and lake they passed on his chest.
Heads and Bodies aren't crude: They have joie de vivre. Later that night, when they're done unloading their equipment, the musicians return to the Seward neighborhood so we can hang out in their Fonzie-like space above Payne and Glatt's garage. Glatt plays the local country band Anchorhead while other band members grab Pabst Blue Ribbons out of the cooler Payne is sitting on. At one point or another, each member lets out a proud burp, laughing every time. The walls are painted with clouds, and a train set sits on the side. The attic room also doubles as a soccer field, with goal posts on either end.
The musicians insist that their songs are getting more "straightforward," and try to convince me that the lyrics are comprehensible. But Heads and Bodies make Sonic Youth sound like Chuck Berry. Newberg, the band's newest member, recalls his first impressions of the chaos. "At the beginning, I didn't really know what was going on, it was just like bam. And I still feel like that, like I wonder what the audience is hearing. My ears are having a tough time hearing everything."