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The Arrogant Worms

Friday, December 3, 2004

Arrogant Worms turn music into laughs

By RICK de YAMPERT
News-Journal Entertainment Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — According to singer Trevor Strong of the music trio the Arrogant Worms, "All the great waltzes are about processed meat."

As the Worms performed Thursday night at SMT Downtown, they also let the half-full house know all the best bluegrass songs are about trichinosis -- yep, that pork equivalent of mad cow disease.

Do you get the idea the Worms are from the opposite side of the musical universe than Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," which played on the PA system before the show? Indeed. The Worms are a comic music trio from Canada. Evidently, they also have a few chromosomes missing from their DNA. Thus, the Worms delivered a kooky concert that was a pleasant diversion, more cleverly funny than laugh-out-loud funny.

In the Worms' world, "love is like a new-car smell -- sooner or later it goes to hell after someone spills Taco Bell." Jesus has a brother, Bob, who laments, "If only I'd been born just a little sooner, I'd be more than the brother of God junior."

The threesome -- Strong, bassist-singer Chris Patterson and guitarist-singer Mike McCormick -- are excellent musicians who capably mimicked folk music, bluegrass, Southern gospel, blues and rock 'n' roll.

A concert highlight was the trio's parody of a 1980s power rock ballad dragged into the Internet age -- a song that featured them mocking rock star poses as Patterson lampooned the nasally voice of Guns N' Roses' singer Axl Rose. "I wanna log into you," Patterson screeched. "Be my laptop dancer. I got lots of RAM."


Friday, November 26, 2004

Can O’ Worms
‘Arrogant’ troupe unearths comic music

By RICK de YAMPERT
News-Journal Entertainment Writer

The Arrogant Worms
Comedy troupe Arrogant Worms (Photo: LiveTourArtists)


DAYTONA BEACH — Trevor Strong, one of the guyswho crafted the song "Jesus' Brother Bob," has noticed comical music is as popular these days as, well, Jesus' brother Bob.

"I have various theories I've worked up over the years about this," says Strong, a founding member of the Arrogant Worms, that Canadian comic music trio. "Music and comedy have been together since, well, since there was music and comedy. Then around the 1960s, music started taking itself really, really seriously.

"I think that was when it (comedy in music) kind of ended. Music became about how much you felt and how much you were hurting as a person. All that naval gazing wiped everything else out."

Almost. That Weird Al guy brought the form out of mothballs after decades, Strong notes. And his own Arrogant Worms have been mining comic music turf since 1991. The Worms will continue to keep comic music alive when they perform Thursday and Dec. 3 at SMT Downtown in Daytona Beach, as part of the Florida International Festival Encore Series. The trio previously performed during the Florida International Festival in 2001.

"We even had a review that said, '. . . once again showing that music and comedy should not be combined,' " Strong says by telephone from one of his group's tour stops in New Brunswick, Canada.

"It was some pompous, dark-clothes-wearing music journalist," he adds with a laugh. "It was such an idiotic thing to say. It's like saying, 'Writing and drama don't go together.' It's a medium. You can put anything in music, just like you can make any point through writing or movies."

For the Arrogant Worms, the point is to take listeners "on a satirical romp through life's inanities or something like that," Strong says. That means crafting such ditties as a pastiche of Celtic folk music with "Gaelic Song," a church-like dirge with "I Am a Cow," a punk rock romp titled "Sponges," and their latest hit, "I Pulled My Groin."

The Worms formed in 1991 while all three members singer Strong, singer/guitarist Mike McCormick and bassist/singer Chris Patterson were college students at Kingston, Ontario, Canada. They shelved their university degrees after some of their comedy songs were broadcast on radio and evoked a sizable audience response.

Soon the Worms were off and running, performing concerts across Canada and recording albums with such ditties as "Losing Hair Under God," "Having Fun Is Bad for You" and "William Shakespeare's in My Cat."

The Worms' reputation was sealed when their magnum opus, "Carrot Juice Is Murder" (inspired by an actual bit of graffiti they spied) became a hit on that king of goofy-music radio programs, the internationally syndicated "Dr. Demento Show."

"We've always considered ourselves an act, not a band," Strong says. "We've never wanted to be on that path. We knew lots of groups doing the pop thing it just seemed like a lot of work.

"I grew up with Monty Python and Tom Lehrer and stuff like that. So it didn't occur to me that people weren't actually doing it any more. I thought it was a natural thing. Then I discovered slowly, after we started doing it, that no, people really aren't doing this anymore. Why would you want to be doing rock music when you have this whole playing field to yourself?"


Saturday, July 21, 2001

2001 Florida International Festival:
Arrogant Worms bring wit to Festival show

By RICK de YAMPERT
News-Journal Entertainment Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — Being a spiritual ignoramus is a good thing. So say the Arrogant Worms.

"Thanks for not being enlightened," Trevor Strong told the crowd Thursday night as his musical comedy group, the Arrogant Worms, performed at the Bank and Blues Club. Seems the Worms had discovered they weren't the only Florida International Festival event that night. At that very mo ment, Tibetan Monks were performing at St. Paul Catholic Church as part of the festival.

"They'll teach you enlightenment," Strong said. "We'll teach you ignorance is bliss."

Or, at least, that musical comedy can be bliss. Though the Worms didn't land a fish every time they cast their comedic bait, they did hook enough laughs to make the evening a worthwhile diversion.

Along with singer Strong, the trio from Ontario, Canada, includes singer-guitarist Mike McCormick and singer-bassist Chris Patterson. Shunning raunchy humor and did-you-see-the-news-today stuff, the Worms instead performed faux folky songs that lampooned their homeland, bad drivers, Internet romances, social protest movements, bowling and Jesus' brother Bob.

The lads proved they could do more than just regurgitate songs from their six albums when they performed "Terry's Taxidermy and Mounted Animal Nature Trail." Claiming the ditty was about an actual place in their homeland, they conned the crowd into a call-and-response sing-along. When audience members made the seemingly appropriate noises of a dog, bear, pig and so forth, the Worms gleefully chided them: "Keep in mind the animals are dead! They don't make sounds unless they're in a blender."

But the when the feisty audience began supplying cat meows for the bear part, along with other mismatches, the Worms were quick with snappy ad-libs about the bear's dietary habits.

The Worms satirized both 1980s "power ballad" rock and Internet romances with the clever "Log In to You." Sounding like the lead singer of an '80s hair-metal band, Patterson wretchedly crooned, "You booted up my hard drive ... password incorrect, my log-in was denied, I got to open up your mother board, put my Pentium inside."

On "Gaelic Song," the band poked fun at Celtic folk music and the stomp-obsessed dancing of "Riverdance," even as Patterson played a tin whistle by blowing it with his nose.

The horrors of driving were exposed on "Idiot Road" as Strong did a credible Bruce Springsteen imitation and McCormick coaxed punchy, bluesy rock out of his acoustic guitar. "Some guy on a bike puts his Spandexed butt where you need to go, down on Idiot Road," Strong snarled.

"Jesus' Brother Bob" told the tale of a sad sack who lamented, "If only I'd been born just a bit sooner, I'd be more than the brother of God Jr."

With all due respect to the Tibetan monks, sometimes being a spiritual ignoramus can be a fun thing.

The Arrogant WormsThe Arrogant Worms -- from left, Chris Patterson, Trevor Strong, and Mike McCormick -- perform Thursday night at the Bank & Blues Club in Daytona Beach as part of the Florida International Festival, July 19, 2001. (Photo: News-Journal/Bob Pesce)


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