Bubblegum Octopus: A Name That Sticks
UPDATE (2:41 p.m.): The show has been moved to Houston House of Creeps, 2710 Carrolton, and Cop Warmth and Saviour Group have been added to the bill.
Mark Morden, the sole member of Bubblegum Octopus, describes the project as, "Bubblegum Octopus is a frantic, progressive hybrid of bouncy, cutesy pico-pico and synth-pop, grinding and noise freakouts, punk, video game influenced electronics, touches of dance music, and IDM/breakcore style percussion mutilation."
Rocks Off describes the project as "two Ataris tag-teaming Lene Lovich while the Cookie Monster skypes it."
Regardless, we're instantly drawn to any band who uses the word "other" to genrecize themselves, and we are disappointed by the semi-Residents vibe we get from Morden's music. It's not comfortable, but neither is any truly exciting ride.
That name, though... Bubblegum Octopus? What the hell does that mean?
What does tree sap mixed with beetle shells - look it up - have to do with the head of Great Cthulhu? Using the new iPhone app to sound like the killer from Scream, we harassed Morden at his studio demanding an answer.
"I often hallucinate sea creatures in my room when I'm behind enough on my sleep," says Morden. "On the first night of composing music for this project I was two days of sleeplessness and I began to see a small, pink, gummy octopus bounce up and down in time to the music.
"Because of the color and the fact that one of the synth presets I was working with was called 'Bubblegum Brass' I was just struck with the name after I realized it wasn't suitable for my project at the time, c@. It helps that I like both bubblegum and octopi."
"That's psuedo-Latin, you know?" we told him in our normal voice having already grown bored with the Scream one. "The correct term is octopuses."
All the while we listened to Morden talk about hallucinating, we perused his music. We utterly refuse to believe anyone is dancing to it, though we'll not rule out the possibility that someone has fought a giant disembodied set of hands while it poured from their iPod. "God's Pink Laser" is about as awesome as you would imagine God's pink laser would be in real life.
We're still hung up on this name though. Not least because octopuses are so 2005. Chrysanthemums are the new octopuses. Everyone knows that.
"I guess if there was a sudden, massive change in the biological construct of the planet and flowers and sea creatures traded places, I'd consider that," said Morden. He clearly doesn't follow modern fashion.
Well, if we can't break him on cephalopods, we'll have to tackle him right in the Wrigley's. There's an old wives tale that bubblegum sits in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it. That myth is bogus. Gum is indigestible, but it just passes out through the back door along with corn and that penny you swallowed on a dare.
We decided to test Morden. "Does your music take seven years to digest?" we asked.
"We'll actually find that out in another year!" he says. "I really like to make music that gives an immediate, strong reaction in either direction, that is followed by later revelation. Maybe the seventh year is when it all comes together."
Seven years is no small feat. Most bands toss in the jizz rag after four. Morden's tenacity earned a little sympathy from us.
"Look," we said. "What does this mean? Really."
"On the positive side, it's come to mean something that is to be thoroughly enjoyed, like gum, for short periods of time, but exists in large numbers, like octopi-"
"Octopuses," we corrected.
"On the negative side, it connotes the idea of destroying something that's done nothing wrong for absolutely no reason," he said ignoring us. "I sometimes think of the octopus as being treated like bubblegum, a food stuff which is not even swallowed to provide sustenance.
"You just put it in your mouth, completely exhaust it of its flavor and consistency, and then throw it away when there is nothing left to enjoy. I don't think that necessarily fits in with the ideology of the project, more so just the way it sometimes feels at shows for me and a lot of other people struggling in the underground."
And with that, he said he had to get back to work.
Bubblegum Octopus plays tonight at Super Happy Fun Land with Yatagarasu, Muzak, and Low Vector Echo.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.