Feature photo by Josh Sisk
While at some point in the embryonic stages of his career Nobunny attempted to maintain his off stage identity a mystery behind a rabbit costume that ranged from a full-body rabbit suit to his birthday suit, this creature from the musical abyss has morphed into a one-man juggernaut that blows away every dingy basement, back room and festival he has graced with his presence. He who has not seen Nobunny, who has not rocked out to his repetitively simple but telling chords, who has not instantly learned the lyrics to “Chuck Berry Holiday” and “Mess Me Up” only to yell them at the top of his lungs while thrashing about maniacally at a live show, has not been embraced by the loving arms of the power of rock, and needs to do so promptly.
Yes, the effects of Nobunny and his music have been known to make people thoroughly enjoy themselves and feel good about going back to a simpler time when punk was a godsend that could deliver us from all evil. Regardless of claims to Elvis impersonator dreams, Nobunny’s musical career includes a quick teenage stunt in the Fuckin’ Bone Shakers, glorious years with Tucson’s beloved The Okmoniks, who, if you ask me did more for the world of music by providing the rabbit with a habit time to bloom, and he was a founding member of two of the past decade’s finest underground rock outfits, the excellently shambolic two piece, Sneaky Pinks, and raunchy, girl-group-sang-by-boys, Hunx and His Punx.
As legend has it, Justin Champlin, the mastermind behind Nobunny, envisioned his role in the garage pop world as that of a producer who would recruit teenage female singers to lead a heartthrob bubble gum pop band, a modern day Kim Fowley to The Runaways, or Darin Raffaelli to the Donnas. Fortunately for us, his attempts at inciting teenage girls to join his band and sing his disturbingly sweet songs failed miserably. It is difficult to imagine that a thirty-something, grungy garage rocker asking teenybopper girls to join “his band” would result in anything but curious teens and enraged fathers. So, faced with the difficulties of his endeavor, Justin took it upon himself to establish the band even if it meant doing it all himself. So there you have it. At some point “I Am A Girlfriend” was not meant to be ironic. Nonetheless, his producer dreams were realized with the launching of the instantly successful Hunx and his Punx, proving that it wasn’t hot young women he needed to target, but hot gay men.
The bunny mask is more than a party gag. It contains and illustrates the artistic potential of the project where, at any given point, anyone knowing the lyrics and owning a bunny mask sufficiently grimy could perform as Nobunny. It’s high-concept gutter art. Given that musicians from cities around the world have backed Nobunny, there is a potential for multiple shows to occur concurrently. In fact, a year or two ago, both devoted and eager first-time fans left a Nobunny show huffing, puffing and confused after hours of waiting around only to find Justin’s Nobunny usurped by a local musician –the iconic mask sloppily made out of fliers and the singing dissonant to a t.
Nobunny is on tour constantly. His music can be found in the first full-length record with all the classics, “Love Visions” (Bubbledumb, 1-2-3-Go!), a second full-length record “First Blood” (Goner) and a cassette tape-come-LP released in between the two, “Raw Romance” (Burger) that includes a couple of his greatest hits and a few rarities.
In my mind his performances are similar to the partying and dancing I imagine Xuxa did after all the kids had gone to sleep. If you get a chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to witness the evolution of a music icon. There’s a little magic and a little history made in every show. Catch him at The Bottom Lounge on July 20th. Purchase tickets on ticketweb.com..