It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying to find some meaning in the oddest monikers.
We've said before that New Orleans is providing some really quality acts these days like The Consortium of Genius and Alias: Orion. One of those acts is the experimental punk group Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship. Punk rock plus accordion? Yes ma'am, we'll have that with onion rings.
The group's whole approach to music is a wonderful mismatch of horns and bizarre lyrics that combines for a hell of a musical experience.
But what kind of name is that? Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship? How dare they makes us think about their motives! So Rocks Off hid in the band's dressing room, and sprang out of their couch cushions with nunchucks to demand an answer.
"Bibliomancy is the term for divination using a book," says accordion player Walt McClements. "At the time the band was forming I asked a life question to The Epic of Gilgamesh..."
"The Final Fantasy character?!" we asked.
"Which was sitting on a friend's kitchen table," he said, ignoring us. "I flipped the book open, and pointed at random to the phrase 'why are they building such a big ship.' It was helpful advice at the time, and when we were trying to figure out what to put on a flyer for our first show, it seemed appropriate, given the size of the band and the disparate elements involved."
Look, you can throw all the big words around that you want to, but it doesn't change the fact basically this is a group that decided to name itself through a combination of mad libs and a Magic 8-ball.
It's like on of those horrible Facebook posts that make you paw through your CD collection to come up with your porn star name or something. There has to be a bigger meaning than, "the book fell open at page 213." There just has to be, right?
"Because the phrase came to me while seeking advice, my first thought always goes back to how I interpreted that advice," says McClements. "I felt scattered with direction and felt I was spreading myself thin amongst different projects. I took the phrase to mean, step back, simplify... why are you building such a big ship?"
We're not building big ship here, buddy. We're just trying to wring some sense out of people on the subject of their freaking band names! Let's dig a bit deeper, shall we? Let's see... big ships... big ships... well, Noah's ArK comes to mind.
That was a pretty big ship. Lots and lots of cubits, whatever the hell those are. It had to be to hold two of every non-fish and the baby dinosaurs. Maybe that's a reason to build a big ship now. Didn't they do that in a John Cusack movie?
"What would be your criteria for being included on an arc to save the cream of humanity?" we asked McClements, who, we should probably acknowledge, had taken our nunchucks from us rather easily.
"I would steer clear of anyone proposing they were fit to judge who the cream of humanity was," he says. "Sounds creepy to me. I'd avoid that boat, and this question."
So they're not preparing for God's mighty water balloon. That's cool, and kind of a relief. After all, they did state that they were into fortune telling via ancient texts, so if they're not worried, we're not worried.
However, the idea of constructing a giant ship is still tempting. We're big fans of watching the people in Dubai build every manner of insane money pit, so it stands to reason that the band might have plans along those lines.
Got to have a big ship to question while you're building it, right? Otherwise you'd have to call the band Why Are We Thinking About Maybe One Day Building A Big Ship, and that name is just ridiculous.
So we pressed on McClements for a look at his master plan.
"A simple dinghy on a quiet lake would suffice, I believe," he says.
Why does that answer worry us?
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Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship: n. 1. A wonderful mismatch of horns and bizarre lyrics. 2. A line from The Epic of Gilgamesh. 3. Misdirection in order to hide your doom machine.
Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship plays with Come See My Dead Person and listenlisten tonight at Fitzgerald's.