So maybe you’re saying to yourself, I want to hear some deep electronica grooves right now. But you’re also saying, I really love Bill Murray, and I also want to hear him say things. You know you have a limited amount of time to accomplish all of this. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO!?
You listen to Ill Murray (Side One), the new album by Bad Mancinis, which comes out at midnight tonight. That’s what you do. Bad Mancinis is the musical partnership between singer/guitarist Troy Kidwell (Trojaas) and video producer, techno-vaudevillian-comic Evan O’Sullivan, who used to collaborate on Boston’s legendary PAN 9 artspace shows. They took samples of Murray from his films and television appearances, as well as from songs from Donna Summer and the Beastie Boys, and mixed them all up in a thick musical porridge they call ILL MURRAY.
The release date isn’t random. Both have an appreciation for Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer character from Second City and Saturday Night Live. It was on April 16, 1977 that Murray introduced that character to a national audience on SNL (S2EP19 – Host: Elliot Gould). I caught up with them to find out whatever possessed them to do this.
The obvious question is, why does this exist? Who is it for?
Evan: Troy and I began creating ILL MURRAY, mostly making music that we knew would entertain and amuse one another. The whole time were highly aware that there is a huge audience of Bill Murray fans in every generation. The longer we worked on it, the clearer it became that these soundscapes and jams had the potential to connect with folks of every stripe, from boomers who watched the original seasons of SNL and saw Caddyshack in the theater to millennials who know him from Wes Anderson flicks and stories about the famous dude prankster who crashes bachelor parties and kickball games.
Troy: The Bad Mancinis started as two guys getting stoned and making butt jokes on Tuesday nights with Troy and Misha Rutman (guitarist for Amun Ra). We were originally going to write music for a silent film and we spent about a year watching movies and just playing music to them with the sound off. We never really found a movie that we thought fit our style but after a year we had a lot of movie-related material and ideas around so it seemed only natural that we would do something movie based. Our first album Bad As Hell came out of that exploration. California stole Misha away after BAH but with Evan’s encyclopedic knowledge of film, great taste in hip hop and video skillz he was the perfect fit for Mancinis 2.0. He’s brought a much needed visual element to the project.
You’re releasing this on the anniversary of the debut of Nick the Lounge Singer – is this a date you’ve celebrated in the past?
Evan: Yes, we have both celebrated the anniversary since childhood, but because we grew up in different regions (south, northeast) our families had different traditions. Over the years we might celebrate Nick’s anniversary in various ways– sometimes by painting eggs, other times by doing taxes or running in marathons.
How many movies and TV shows did you pull from for this?
Evan: Dozens. In a song like “Dub 2 Dub U” which is among the densest on Side One here are at least five Bill Murray movies we drew from. There are even songs where we sample a section of Bill laughing and pitch shifted it to sound like an instrument and it is unrecognizable.
What song samples did you use?
Evan: Again, sorry but way too many to answer in one interview. In the first song “Nation of Billions,” for example, there are at least ten samples of rappers from Eazy-E and EPMD to Common and Busta Rhymes. We’re actually hoping that maybe sample-spotting will be part of the fun of listening to the album in much the same way we grew up discovering the original samples that made up classics by the Beastie Boys, De La Soul, or DJ Shadow.
Certain songs follow the hip-hop model of being built around a loop or a remix like Atlantic Rhythm Section’s “So Into You” on track three and six.
Is there any original playing on this?
Troy: Yes, I play guitar and keys on the project. The music is sample based but not to exclusion of original material. We might use a sample or multiple samples layered over each other and then add original music performances onto that or conversely start with original music and add samples over that. If you can’t tell what is original, what was recorded to sound like a sample and what is actually a sample we did our jobs right.
Evan: There are lots of original programmed beats on “Nation of Billions,” “Gunga Galunga,” and “BOOM!” to name a few. But any time we needed the heat or bast of intensity of an analog instrument, that’s when I cleared the way to let Troy do his thing and without fail he took the tunes to another level.
Are you actively trying to get this into Bill Murray’s hands?
Evan: Why do you know him? Actually that has become one of the most frequently uttered phrases in our vocabularies recently, “Why, do you know him?” So… Yes.
Troy: Yes, we’d love to get it into his hands and hopefully he likes it so much we’ll get to play a round of golf with him on the Cape.
Is there a Side Two coming?
Troy: Side Two is coming this summer
Evan: If you are listening and you have a favorite Bill speech or song you’re not hearing, sit tight because it is very likely on Side Two. We were working on all the songs at the same time, basically been trying to create the double album/sampled concept-album we wanted to see in the world, and side one is just the beginning.
If you want to hear a bit more, check out Bad Mancinis previewing a few tracks and being interviewed by Pammeke van der Feest on “On the Town with Mikey Dee” on the April 12 episode in the archives on Tufts Freeform Radio WMFO 91.5.
To see Nick the Lounge Singer’s first appearance on SNL, you’ll have to dig up the Season Two DVDs or find it on a streaming service. Instead, enjoy this pre-SNL version of Nick from the Second City YouTube channel.