Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Free-range provocateurs Sun City Girls aim to please ... themselves

Except for the band's 1990 masterwork, Torch of the Mystics, and a smattering of CD reissues, damn near all of the SCG back catalog is out of print, and the band's rarer works routinely go for top dollar on eBay. Bishop says that with so many unreleased recordings on deck, he would rather focus on constantly putting out new product than keeping the older stuff available. He adds that, with this approach, each release breaks even or makes a small profit, and there are no boxes of CDs gathering dust in his closet. Upcoming efforts may draw from some 28 reels recorded in 1997 at the Seattle studio of longtime SCG engineer Scott Colburn, as well as from such esoterica as film audio collages and shortwave recordings from the band members' many trips overseas. "Say you're in the Golden Triangle," Bishop says of the radio pieces. "You're getting five different stations coming from Laos, Cambodia, China, Burma, and Thailand, and they're all cross-fading into each other. By manipulating different frequencies with the dial, you can actually turn the radio into your own little analog instrument. It's an interesting effect."

The Bishop brothers' penchant for recording can be traced all the way back to Saginaw, Mich., where the two started doing "really ridiculous things" with tape recorders as kids, including prank phone calls (three examples of which can be found on the triple-CD anthology Box of Chameleons). "We had probably a thousand prank phone calls on tape," Bishop remembers. "It was our entertainment for the weekend." Obviously, the SCG mischievousness was developing even then.

One of the Bishops' all-time favorite pranks was calling the local public television station and getting fictitious names displayed on the high-bidder board. "The year that the Dodgers had Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Steve Garvey, and Davey Lopes as their infield, we had all four of those names up there on the board, and the representative to Congress in the district was announcing those four as the winners. And nobody caught it. So we just continued to do it, and put really ridiculous names up there like Stan Dup and Ben Dover, right there for everyone to see on the television set. We couldn't believe how easy it was to do that, and it just gave us so much confidence. Doing these things at an early age, you just get better at it because your confidence is unshattered. You get better at being able to deceive, to do pranks, and get away with these things."

Sun City Girls: Bewitched, bothered, and bewildering.
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Sun City Girls: Bewitched, bothered, and bewildering.

Details

Record release party for the Live From the Afterworld compilation on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 10 p.m. Three Day Stubble opens. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; call 621-4455.


Sample of Sun City Girls' "Severed Finger with a Wedding Ring"

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't play the music automatically, <A HREF="http://www.sfweekly.com/media/2000-11-08/suncitygirls.mp3"> download it here.</A> </p>
Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F.

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When they were growing up, the Bishop brothers weren't interested in becoming musicians, even when their parents bought them a piano and a guitar. Being kids, they just blew it all off -- neither started playing an instrument until they were both about 17. From there, it was SCG history.

"But I still don't consider myself a musician after all these years," Bishop maintains, arguing that most musicians are too caught up in tradition and role fulfillment. "If people could get beyond worrying what the fuck [others] think of them, about offending somebody, or about playing something differently or wrong, then we'd have 100 Sun City Girls out there, wouldn't we? Where the fuck are they? By all means, there are plenty of great ideas and great musicians and players out there. It's frustrating because it just seems like there should be a lot more. It makes it a lot easier for us, but then again, it's uninspiring."

OK, Mr. Bishop, point taken. One last question: What might SCG have up their sleeves for the upcoming Bottom of the Hill appearance? "We've got everything up our sleeves. It depends on the shirt of the evening."

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