And friends, it doesn’t go much deeper than Bloomington’s own The Japonize Elephants, whose 9-member tribe was fabled as being “steered by the Emperqq of Zorlock through a catacomb of musical styles at hyper speeds only a Zorlockian could function at,” So, there’s that. And then, there’s the very clear, very concise directive that begins the one sheet (penned by SC founder Eric Weddle) for The Japonize Elephant’s classic, Bob’s Bacon Barn (SC005): “String the banjo. Lick the reeds. Pack the bowl.” And with that, we’re off on a wild, Appalachia-by-way-of-the-Middle East hyper-speed gypsy caravan that’s as baffling as it is inspiring and hilarious. The Japonize Elephants truly embody what it means to lead a creative life in the midwestern oasis of Bloomington, Indiana.
In a 2007 piece for Billboard.com, written at the passing of former Japonize Elephants member Evan Farrell, then-editor and former Bloomingtonian Jonathan Cohen said this of the band’s Bloomington legacy: “They’d often just show up, all eight or nine of them, at a house party and proceed to gloriously wreck the place. The next morning, there’d be flour, muddy footprints, about two-dozen empty beer cans and maybe one of the members strewn across the living room.”
Members of this gang of uber-talented, accomplished musicians went on to play with artists such as John Vanderslice, Rogue Wave, Magnolia Electric Co. and Lia Ices.
In addition to the amazing Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome-meets-Bonarroo (Dig: the crossbow soprano sax) aesthetic of this photo, it’s also worthwhile to focus for a moment on the promotional photo card on which the photo is presented. Once dropped into press packages with their respective album, these cards are still in high demand around the SC office, their blank flipsides used as notepads. We plan to use these Extra Classic columns to highlight the best of the best, like the one presented here. In the bottom, right hand margin of this particular card, we find the clear indicator of a then-infant label. Note the university contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org (I heard he still uses it). And perhaps even more hilarious is the Web site: ezinfo.ucs.indiana.edu/~bjswanso/sc.html. My, how we’ve grown. That’s extra classic.