The Fatal Flying Guilloteens: A Two Sided Blade of The Absurd and Sublime
A brief analysis of the band’s live performance, with footnotes.
By Brian Foster Wallace
Two live recordings exist of Houston, TX, math blues glue-sniffers Fatal Flying Guilloteens that encapsulate the raucous five-piece fuck up’s shows rather succinctly. One was captured in the early aughts at Bellingham, Washington’s storied 3B Tavern.
“Apparently, if a Bellingham crowd likes the band, they throw beer on them,” singer/shit-stirrer Shawn Adolph says to the assembled crowd. “Please throw a lot of beer on us.”
What you hear next is the band ripping into a song that sounds like Jesus Lizard being teabagged by Lightning Hopkins (1), “Never Underestimate An American,” off their debut Estrus 7-inch EP Ask Marie Antoinette. (The disc would later inspire Sofia Coppola to write and direct Marie Antoinette (2), which starred Kirsten Dunst, a bat with giant boobs (3).) But its what you can’t hear that matters.
The crowd obliges. They shower the band with beer. All of it. Every ounce of ale and lager and pils served at the 3B that night never saw the bottom of a bladder. It wound up, as commanded, on the Guilloteens. Their guitars, their amps, their drums, their stupid, gimmicky matching Lone Ranger outfits–all of it, soaked. Dripping. (3)
I know this, because I was there. I played guitar in the band. I also screamed on a few songs. I remember my amp smelled of stale beer for the rest of tour. It’s a wonder any of our gear worked afterward. (Many times, it didn’t.)
The show at the 3B that night was everything we wanted and expected from The Fatal Flying Guilloteen Live Experience ™. It was dangerous, loud, wet, sticky, hot and exuberating, both for us and the crowd. But most of all, it was fun. Our good shows always teetered on a line between absolute disaster and absolute purge. That was the idea anyway. When we were good, when things were clicking, you didn’t know if you were going to get punched or kissed, hugged or body slammed. Sometimes, you’d get body slammed as you were being kissed.
We were like the last season of Celebrity Apprentice if every cast member was Gary Busey. It was tragic and comical and warped and made little or no sense and was, bottom line, of benefit to no one with even a hint of moral or intellectual standards.
We’d all read the Led Zeppelin biography, Hammer of the Gods, and wanted to live it. Only we’d stopped reading past the part where Jimmy Page fucks that girl with a tiny shark. Since we were too fat (4), ugly (5), gay (6), proud (7) or Mexican (8) to fux wit any girls, we fucked our instruments instead, and by extension, the audience’s ears and sense of what was fair or just.
These aural shark-fucking orgies (9) were a thing to behold, grand in every conceivable way. They felt like doing whippits underwater, your head vibrating with the force of the Space Shuttle in liftoff, your body cocooned by the gentile caress of God’s tasteless nectar.
But we were bad sometimes too. And by sometimes I mean often. Which brings me to the second live recording that sums up the FFGLE ™. This one from a show in Missoula, Montana, on the night the city very nearly burned to the ground. A forest fire was raging across the state, and the homes of Missoulans (10) were being destroyed, some of whom were in the crowd that night.
We were playing a funeral, and everyone in the audience that night had lost something dear to them. The sound guy, in fact, told us he’d lost several thousand dollars worth of his prize KISS collection earlier in the week and was still in mourning. (11) He’d heard of our wild antics, and asked that we attempt to calm them, and go easy on him.
We were too drunk, young and dumb to pay him much mind. We played louder than we should have for such a tiny room. We played out of tune. We played off time. Our inner Gary Busey’s were making a mockery of our band, the town we were playing, our songs, our lives.
Instead of jerking the wheel and pulling our burning caravan of shit back onto the road, we pushed the gas. Shawn, in full on HATE FUCK (12) mode chastised the crowd, “What the fuck are you doing here, Missoula? YOUR CITY IS ON FIRE, YA DUMB SHITS!!”
It was the absolute worst. I once played the recording for a guy who’d made a mint in the dot-com boom before it went bust, and he wanted to release it to the public on a label he’d start just to do so. It would be called Fatal Flying Guilloteens in … The Worst Live Show Ever Recorded, was his idea, and it would be filed under comedy.
So, those are your two options with us. Both are an experience, I suppose. Which one will you get on June 2nd, 7:10pm from the 29-95 stage? I’m not sure. You’ll have to show up to find out. I do know two things though. 1) We haven’t played on a stage together in six years, and this will likely be the last time we ever do. We want it to be good. We really do. We even plan to practice, which is something I can’t say we ever did in the 10 plus years we existed. And 2) We will have a Biggie Hologram (13) to combat the Tupac Hologram that Snoop, who is playing on the main stage at the same time, will have.
See you there. (14)
Brian McManus lives and works in Philadelphia. He would like you to follow him on Twitter @makemajormoves
(1) That was the intention, at least, when I wrote it.
(2) This is not true.
(3) This is true.
(3) There’s evidence of the soaking on the recording, Shawn doing his best Sally Field once the song is over:“You do love us! You do! Hey remember, I have contacts. Be careful.”
(5) Shawn Adolph, vocals/guitar
(6) Mike Bonilla, drums/vocals
(7) John Adams, drums/guitar
(8) Roy Mata, Mexican
(9) The sharks are metaphorical. So too is the fucking.
(10) Missoulites? Missoules? Let’s just call them hicks.
(11) This, sadly, is true.
(12) His default mode.
(13) This, sadly, is not true.
(14) But probably not. Snoop is on the main stage right now, you dumb shit!