Some musicians are eccentric. Others are eclectic. Still others are enigmatic. But few combine all those qualities — along with several other brilliantly bizarre traits — quite like the masked mad scientist who goes by the handle JJ’s Music Retaliation.
The Toronto singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist / one-man band / smart-alec / icon / iconoclast first bum-rushed my in-box with one of his singularly strange songs a few months back. Since then, I seldom go more than a few weeks without being gifted with another of his wonderfully skewed mini-masterworks. Andn I am ashamed to admit I have come to anticipate them.
Truth is, you never really know what you’re going to get from JJ (real name: Daniel Greenwood). It could be a song about a fish dinner or a cup of coffee. A camel ride or his car mechanic. Aliens or his favourite colour. The track might be funky. It might rock out. It might be electronic. It might be psychedelic. It will probably have a blistering guitar solo. But mostly, it will probably sound like Frank Zappa, Nash the Slash, Iggy Pop, Prince and The Red Hot Chili Peppers took vast quantities of psychotropic drugs and locked themselves in a studio for several weeks.
If you can imagine that, you’re halfway to understanding the unbridled, freewheeling that JJ routinely and regularly unleashes from the overheated petri dish of his brain. To get the rest of the way, check out some of his recent offerings below. I’m featuring a handful every week for the next little while, along with track-by-track explanations and artwork suppled by the man himself. May heaven help us all.
Want A Ride Home?
JJ SAYS: “My best friend Hogametre proudly started The Society For Inhumane Treatment Of Dogs By Not Providing Them With Adequate Shelter, Food and Clothing. He was quite clever and in fact created this easy way for people to remember the name SFITO DOBYNOT PROTH WADSHEL FAC
Because it was so simple I taught my two-year-old son this shortformed version. I once asked Hogametre what prompted him to start this wonderful organiztion. He explained all his life he never won anything except — and tears came to his eyes as he told this part — his parents heard about a contest where people could bring their puppies and if chosen they would win a year’s supply of dog chowder. Unfortunately both his parents were allergic to dogs and they felt left out. They did a huddle and in one of their most life-shattering decisions they decided they would take my friend and pin a tale to his behind! Wouldn’t you know it, Hogametre won hands down (I mean paws down). To this day he proudly displays his award on his wall. It made him think as he grew older of all the unfortunate dogs who didn’t even have a chance to be chosen. They suffer not having someone to take care of them. These dogs could never have been enterered into a contest because there was no one to take them. Since then he treats his dogs like important people. He has divoriced three of his wives because they never treated his dogs with much respect. He locked one of his wives out of the house and wouldn’t feed her dinner because she forgot to leave his dog breakfast. Actually she did feed him. It was the coffee she forgot.The other wife put a muzzle on his dog because it was too loud.You can guess who ended up with a muzzle on her mouth. The song Want a Ride Home is about Hogametre yelling out of the window of his car “want a ride home?” to dogs when he notices dogs without tags on them. He went to jail four times for stealing someone’s dog. He looks back fondly saying he would do it again. The dogs he picked up were not clothed properly in the middle of the winter.”
Rajah Bring Down The Fish
JJ SAYS: “I own a restaurant. It is called Meating Place. We serve many different cuts of meat. I hired Rajah six years ago. He is the most obedient employee I have ever had — except once. But this incident was a turning point in my restaurant business. As usual, I requested Rajah to bring down a ribeye steak. He accidentally brought down a salmon steak. I don’t have a clue how he got his hands on it, but once it was baked and served to a customer, they found it so tasty that they passed it around to the eight people sitting on their table. They then told their friends about our delicious salmon steak and soon it was the most popular dish we sold. Because of this I opened a new restaurant and called it Fishing Place. We had a unique idea and everyone who entered our restaurant was given a fishing rod and went to our big aquarium and caught their own fish. Instead of people going to the country they would stop by us and go fishing. Rajah works in my Fishing Place restaurant, and I always call out to him, “Rajah bring down the fish” when a customer wants a fishy dishy!”
Rode That Camel
JJ SAYS: “As a child, I always wanted to ride a horse. In fact my nagging was so insistent that when I was six, my parents decided to do something about it. There was a zoo/farm in the country and they took me there. They offered horse rides, but when we got to the corralled area there was a sign above the gate, “All horses are sick with Horsearitis.” I still don’t know exactly what that means. If you know please let me know. We were very disappointed. We started walking away and there was a sign that read: “Follow this trail for a camel ride.” There they were all those camels staring at me. The camel driver looked at me and said, ‘Ride that camel.’ On the way home I kept repeating: ‘I rode that camel.’ ”
We Are The Water Bunnies
JJ SAYS: “My first band was called The Water Bunnies. Our first hit single was We Are The Water Bunny. The words are: ‘We are the water bunny. We make lots of money, singing and dancing on the floor.’ We dressed up as bunnies. We dyed our costumes water blue. People came from all over to watch us dance like idiots. In fact, our audience liked us so much they would throw buckets of water on us. I am not sure why they threw darts at our tails. That sure hurt!”