Bloodhound Gang in-the-news

Loosing The Bloodhounds 3rd CD Lights Philly Rap Quintet's Fire

March 7, 1997Michael Mehle
Rocky Mountain News

Six months ago, the American masses didn't have to worry much about the Bloodhound Gang. The Philadelphia rap outfit with a penchant for marginally offensive and admittedly sophomoric songs seemed destined to stay underground, plugging along on an independent label.

But then came the group's Fire Water Burn and its keg-party chorus ("The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire"). The Bloodhound Gang became omnipresent on modern-rock radio, and major labels came calling. The quintet landed on Geffen Records, which is preparing to push the band into the American mainstream.

What do we have to look forward to? How about songs such as Lift Your Head Up High (and Blow Your Brains Out) or I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks. The titles are just a harbinger of what's inside the songs. The Gang's top man, Jimmy Pop Ali, likens himself to an "idiot savant" who has happily tapped into the lucrative Adam Sandler mind-set.

"That's where I'm at, somewhere between third and fourth grade," said the Bloodhound Gang's leader and lyricist.

One Fierce Beer Coaster -- the band's third album, which was originally released on Republic Records, then re-released on Geffen -- is one of the year's most impressive smorgasbords of styles. From crunchy punk to smooth funk to inventive hip-hop, the Bloodhound Gang can mix and match styles with remarkable ease.

But for the PC police, the music might easily be overshadowed by Pop Ali's take on the world, which can be ageist, homophobic, racist, godless and deliberately juvenile -- all in one song.

"If I wasn't telling poop jokes over music, I wouldn't be in a band. I definitely wouldn't be in a band if it weren't for that," he said.

"The only thing I'm good at is being an idiot, so I've perfected that. To an extreme. I'm not very good at math and science, but telling poop jokes over music -- I've got that down."

Don't take poop jokes literally; it's just Ali's catch phrase for all things immature. Entire songs are dedicated to oral sex or Mister Rogers, and other tunes have pop references to Emmanuel Lewis and Howard Stern. One song -- the delightfully self-deprecating Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me -- suddenly breaks for a non-sequitur chorus that chants, "The drummer for Def Leppard's only got one arm."

And then there are two songs that Geffen decided didn't belong on the album, including the Asian-bashing Yellow Fever.

"I don't know if I think it's objectionable," Ali said. "Some of it's vile. I listen to it and I say, you know, that is really funny, deviously funny. For example, when we were in the studio and I put the gunshots on Lift Your Head Up High (and Blow Your Brains Out), I turned it way up and I could picture some kid in the woods, kneeling with a shotgun and blowing his head off. It was great."

Musically, the Bloodhound Gang has evolved from a sample-anchored outfit to a live ensemble with more emphasis on guitars. ("I learned four chords," Ali said by way of explanation.)

The band also is in a near-constant state of flux, with members leaving and joining the group with each new album.

"Some of the members hate me because I'm an a------," Ali said. "Others have to go back to work. Others, for whatever reason, realize after a while that they can't play."

He's happy with the lineup he has now, calling it a "retarded A-Team." "Everyone has their job," he says. "You have your Hannibal, your B.A. Baracus, your Murdock."

He even has his parents on board the Bloodhound Gang. They help head the group's expanding merchandising empire, selling such items as a shirt that depicts a blind nun in wheelchair set afire. On the back of the shirt is an obscene phrase from Fire Water Burn.

"My mom, she says, 'That's a nasty shirt,' " Ali says in a high voice to imitate his mother. "But then she also says, 'That's $18, plus $3 for shipping and handling.' "

The Bloodhound Gang performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Information: 830-8497.

With its blend of punk, funk and hip-hop, the Bloodhound Gang has conquered modern-rock radio with its third CD, Fire Water Burn.