The Pucumber Sasssquash Family Band: The Wavelength Inner-View

Purveyors of: Cornucopic cult theme songs
File next to: Deerhoof, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Fantomas
Playing: Wavelength’s Doors Open Toronto After Party, Saturday, May 27 @ Bike Pirates. Get tickets here, or at the door!

I first saw the Pucumber Sasssquash Family Band in their hometown of Hamilton. With lead vocalist Zucchini Jackson flailing his way across the venue floor and much of the rest of the sextet spilling off the stage themselves, it was a perfect mixture of assault and group hug. Putting a finger on the band’s kaleidoscopic sound isn’t an easy thing to do, and as it turns out, talking to them doesn’t help much either. But sometimes it’s better to be puzzled and happy than especially clear about anything. Wavelength’s John Crossingham spoke to PSFB’s “doldrummer” Mosh’d Potato and language was never the same.

I wanted to start off by talking about the importance of venues in the indie community. In your hometown of Hamilton, you recently lost the Baltimore House (a terrific indie-friendly spot that closed in March), while here in Toronto, we’ve said goodbye to the Silver Dollar last month, among a few others. How much of a blow was it losing a venue like that?

A good venue is like a pot of chili. It comes and goes, and when it’s here you feel it, and you feel it passing through you, and when you forget that you were handling hot peppers all afternoon and try to go pee, you have to go to the emergency room. Historically, we have expanded our wings and flown across the 47 pseudo-venues in the vast quarter-kilometer of James North where we all lived until one of us moved to Brant County recently, so now we are exploring opportunities to touch the sun of live performance in various graineries and aggregates depots. There’s a guy down the street with a barn and some cows that’s lookin’ real good. Of course, the whole world would be so much more supportive of live music if every band played at conversational volume and every show ended at 10pm, but that’s another conversation nobody ever has, so let’s change the subject. How do you feel about oatmeal? Physically?

There is something about your chemistry that doesn’t really click until it is seen live. Do view the stage as the spot where you really exist and the recording just try to capture that live state as well as possible?

The spot where we really exist is that 4-6 week period on the seed packet before the “last frost,” even though there’s always another frost after that, so really I guess it’s in the freezer, which is far more of a place than some bunch of weeks on a piece of glossy paper hiding under the empty box of the seven pizzas that you ordered to enjoy for a snack, which Annichoke (bass) reduced into quantum antimatter while you weren’t looking, wherever that is, um, I mean whenever.  The stage is nice with all those hot lights and moisture everywhere. So much moisture.  And radiant heat and nitrogen. Those are all good things primarily on account of being necessary for survival, which is largely overrated, but that’s another story, one which unfortunately will never be enjoyed by the 20% of people that are rendered permanently immobile when Rad Radish (guitar) forgets to tie his shoe before that part of the song where he falls into everybody on purpose.

So, you have chosen a fairly ridiculous band name, an equally quixotic collection of pseudonyms, and song titles that favour the oblique. But even a quick scan of Zucchini’s lyrics says that there is a lot more going on than just random association word salad—while they fit the shambolic character of the music on a superficial level, they’re great lyrics and heavy themes emerge from them. So what am I asking here? Was the naming of PSFB just fun? (There is no shortage of joy and playfulness in your live shows, for sure.) Is it a commentary that this shit doesn’t really matter and it’s all about the music, maaaaan? Or do you view it as something a little more complex—like a shield to wear that keeps Zucchini’s nuggets of truth hidden from all but the most curious (and therefore worthy) listeners?

Similarly to how nothing is accomplished without a bunch of angry schlubs disagreeing over it and some of them die, the name was a terrible mistake that nobody could reason away with our ridiculously myopic yet somewhat salt-and-vinegary human brains, and it became a permanent marker just like everything else in life, except for most of it that everyone forgets forever. Zucchini Jackson (vox) distills all of this in a skillet with butter for wonderful results and also grows pea plants that wrap around the Earth 12 times, which is where all those ridiculous analogies about how much undigested Big League Chew is in your thumbnail come from.

And hey, look! Another band name question! You’re sorta named after both vegetables and a hairy mythological beast, but the veggie side of name seems to be more solidly your identity (see the various gourds and sprouting veggies on your Facebook page and your own names). With that out of the way… would you tour with a band named after meat?

We would tour with a band full of Moms and sons travelling with bags of rocks stuffed into the trunk of a beat-up old Ford called Mom Ford and Son.  We are all just bags of meat on our birthdays.  Moms are important, and if you’re lucky enough to have one on Earth you should call her, now, or Asarahguts (guitar) will put the foot in your spindly ass.

How do you prefer to navigate composing in the band? Is there a lead in terms of initiating writing? Or is it proudly built, honed, and refined by committee?

One time Moshed Potato (drums) did too much yoga and then ate a pound of expired rice too quick because he was late for practice, but the joke was on Moshed because he had to run out of practice early to go barf all over the curb in front of a fresh poke bowl parlour. Then our first album happened. Every single grain of rice that each of us rots in the fridge for a week, eats hastily while late for practice, and then barfs onto the distinctly elegant artisanal streetscapes of the poke district, has a profound influence over the delicate creative process, as well as a radical and staunchly contrarian opinion, so in fact we are never actually able to finish writing anything. Nothing is permanent, except for DJ Castrated Eggplant’s (keys) fingernails, which will peel back all of your fears and replace them with scarier ones, if you enjoy being scared, which everyone does apparently, otherwise why the fuck are there spiders????!

Hamilton, the Brooklyn of Toronto: “Shut the fuck up!”, “Damn straight!”, or “For the last time, we’re the Bronx!”

Hamilton will take a shit in your bowl of Flakes With Bran, which will have a profoundly positive effect on your overall nutrient intake, should you choose to continue eating it. Choose wisely. This is not a metaphor, it actually happened. To you.

This interview was edited, though not for clarity.