Release the Hounds

Getting in touch with their inner mammal: The Bloodhound Gang, with Jimmy Pop (center)

HOW IS IT that a former Howard Stern intern and his band of merry jackals can sing a song like "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" and come off as total innocents? For one thing, the Bloodhound Gang sure know their gay-friendly new wave. They started as a Depeche Mode cover band--albeit a joke one--and built their inescapable new hit "The Bad Touch" (a.k.a. "the mammal song") on the synthesizer changes of New Order's "True Faith." They even sample Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" on their new, third album, Hooray for Boobies (Geffen).

To Bloodhound fans, these punk-metal-electronica apes from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, might be nothing worse than five twentysomethings who watched too much TV as kids and missed the political-correctness lectures in college. They love South Park-style single-entendres ("You know what I really want in a girl? Me!"), and even the easily offended might hum along to the choruses ("I don't shave my heinie," or "I got to find a new vagina") or do the "Bad Touch" dance, with its pelvic thrusts and imaginary-ass-slapping. When rockers have this much fun forgetting their political manners, audiences give them the same leeway they give comedians or protesters. Intentionally or not, they're bringing up things people are afraid to talk about, be it oral sex, porn stars, religion, or weeping Russian lap dancers who miss their grandmothers.

Boobies was kept off shelves for six months, but not because of protests from religious groups or Tipper Gore. Rather, representatives of Pink Floyd objected to a sample from "Another Brick in the Wall"--the Hound's lyric has it as "you're just another dick with no balls"--until an amused Roger Waters relented. But four years ago the absurdly racist "Yellow Fever" (with its "Chinky chinky bang bang" chorus) was indeed pulled prior to the release of the band's second album, One Fierce Beer Coaster (Republic). The song, which could be read as a parody of geisha-girl fantasies, still arouses ire today, and local slam-poetry performer and activist Thien-Bao Phi says he plans to lead a protest outside the Quest when the Bloodhound Gang performs there Saturday.

"We try to hurt everyone's feelings," singer Jimmy Pop explains in an e-mail interview with City Pages. "It makes us feel better about ourselves."

The bright side of this free-speech exercise is that it allows Pop to mention his small penis in "The Bad Touch" (following in the tradition of mentor Stern) and encourages the band to make total asses of themselves onstage. "We started playing as a joke," Pop says. "We grew up with the guys from [electronica band] God Lives Under Water. They taught us how to use the samplers, and we taught them how to light their own farts. It seemed like a fair trade."

Clubs in Philadelphia wouldn't let the Gang play when they started out in 1993, so Evil Jared Hasselhoff let them perform in his house (before joining on bass) until the first floor caved into the basement. Despite its frat-friendly "You're Pretty When I'm Drunk," the debut Use Your Fingers bombed in 1995, and everyone but Pop and guitarist Lüpüs Thünder bailed. But after recruiting Jared and drummer Spanky G from Vaginal Bloodphart, along with D.J. Q-Ball on guitar, the band scored its first hit with "Fire Water Burn," their version of the Eighties rap smash "Roof Is on Fire."

So will the Gang be able to continue a career as Weird Al's masturbating younger brother once they slump into their thirties? Pop isn't optimistic: "We'll all be working in McDonald's by then."

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