September 29, 1996
Jam
Music
      Artists A-Z
      Album Reviews
      Concert Reviews
      Concert Listings
      Pop Encyclopedia
      Music Blog

Movies
Television
Video
Theatre
Books
Country
Celebrities



Video Gallery
RSS Feed

SJP


Worm's-eye view
By MIKE ROSS


A song about a worm that ends up in a bottle of tequila, a song about getting your tongue stuck to a frozen pole, a song about a schoolteacher who enjoys stuffing dead birds - only the Crash Test Dummies could get away with such seeming nonsense.

And you can hear all that and more on the band's third album, A Worm's Life, in stores Wednesday.

Consider the irony: barrel-voiced singer Brad Roberts brings a university education in English literature and philosophy to his offbeat lyrics, yet the world knows him chiefly for Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.

Roberts laughs, "The fact that the chorus didn't have any words in it did prove to be somewhat helpful in territories like Europe - where it doesn't matter what languages you speak."

Very helpful, as it turned out.

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm was such a huge hit that "Weird Al" Yankovic even lampooned it - the equivalent of a knighthood in pop music. The Dummies' album, God Shuffled His Feet, eventually sold almost six million copies worldwide, making the band's previous Canadian success seem piddling by comparison.

Now it's time to follow it up. And Roberts promises you won't hear another Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm on A Worm's Life, no formula sequel, no Nnn Nnn Nnn Nnn.

"I think it would be pretty dumb to write a song that would be similar to Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm because it would be just some watered-down version of something that worked once.

"It's pretty boring to repeat yourself, both for me and the people who buy our records. The band was very enthusiastic about doing something different, because you have to go out there and play those songs for a year; you might as well challenge yourself as much as possible and keep things fresh."

A Worm's Life may sound like a departure; fans will notice more distorted guitars, for one thing, and a heavier, more aggressive sound overall. Still, Roberts' lyrics are from the same quirky, shoe-gazing school of thought heard on any Dummies' record. He admits he prefers to look at simple things in unusual ways rather than the other way around.

"The characters in our songs do tend to be oddballs, but not in some obvious way," he explains, "like you might find in a Charles Bukowski novel where everyone's completely nuts.

"They're just more quiet, familiar scenarios that are nevertheless a bit strange. I find that more interesting - and more appropriate for me - because I grew up in a suburb in Winnipeg and the strange people around me were not of the Charles Bukowski ilk ... much as I like Charles Bukowski," he adds.

Despite the fact that he now has to wear a disguise in public, Roberts is comfortable with his celebrity status, taking it all with a "pinch of salt." But it almost didn't happen. Without the American and European attention, God Shuffled His Feet could've easily ended up as a commercial failure. When Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm first came out, there was a great Dummies' backlash in Canada. Toronto's Eye magazine ran a critics' poll that voted the tune "the worst single of the year."

"If your first record does well," says Roberts, "you can count on the fact that many people in the media and music industry will be cynical about your immediate fame, will write it off as some stroke of luck and will be determined to do whatever they can to make your next record sink."

He makes it sound so cruel, but "that's happened over and over again to Canadian bands for God knows how long. For some reason there's some sort of inferiority complex happening."

As for the title track, it wasn't conceived with any agenda in mind - it's just a simple little song about a worm, "no metaphor intended" - but Roberts is open to almost any interpretation.

"The opening line is `though you think me cold and slimy, I've got a nice home' - and this had led many people to speculate that the song is about A&R people."

He left it unsaid that it could also apply to music critics.




HOT MUSIC HEADLINES
Q & A with the Arctic Monkeys
Selena Gomez swears, storms off stage at Jingle Ball
R. Kelly: 'I met my match in Lady Gaga'
Rebecca Black debuts 'Friday' follow-up
Jay Z, Drake earn top Grammy nominations
Ed Sheeran paid his dues for singer-songwriter success
CD reviews: Bad Religion, Erasure and Nick Lowe top Christmas albums
Drake pulls out of Grammy's concert
How Christina Aguilera got her groove back
The most iconic '90s videos
More Headlines
Britney Spears ponders retirement after Las Vegas residency
Kanye West plays to half-empty arena in Kansas City
Our top Grammy nomination picks
Hilary Duff preparing for pop comeback
Gucci Mane faces gun charges
Lady Gaga announces Canadian tour
Katy Perry, John Mayer pose together in 'Who You Love' cover art
A semi ‘Orange is the New Black’ holiday special
Reggae legend Junior Murvin dies at 67
Rza pays tribute to Paul Walker through song


Who's coming and when
Want to know when your favourite band is coming to town? Check out Clive, JAM Music's extensive Canadian concert listings.

TV Listings
Wondering what's on tonight? Check out our TV listings for the complete schedule in your area.
Movie Listings
Find out what's playing at a theatre near you.








Do you think Kanye West should have the book thrown at him for fighting with a photographer?
Yes
No


Results | Story