Out of the ashes of Alternative Tentacles bands like Victim’s Family, The Hellworms, and Saturn’s Flea Collar, comes The Freak Accident. Like a determined yet fun-loving Phoenix, Ralph Spight is back and tweaking the boundaries of this thing called… rock? spazz-pop? funk-punk?… all over again. He just can’t stop reinventing his musical vision and in the process add much-needed variety and creativity to today’s often moribund and imitative music scene. Jump on board and hang on!
History of The Freak Accident: Ralph Spight has spent most of the past two decades traversing the world playing a tight brew of kinetic punk with his band Victims Family and its offshoots Saturn’s Flea Collar and Hellworms . The Northern California trio put out numerous albums (six on the Alternative Tentacles label) and toured repeatedly through the US and Europe and garnered a rabid cult following worldwide.
When yet another drummer exited the band in 2002, Ralph began wanting something different. “I had a few songs that I’d never brought into Victim’s Family because I thought they were too pop. I began writing stuff based on being able to strip it down to piano or acoustic guitar. I also wanted more spontaneity in the studio even though I was layering the songs. I recorded the record in Pro Tools but I left a lot of mistakes in. I’m sick of everything being so polished, or a perfect documentary picture of a live performance. I’d rather have a recording have a vibe. I’d also been wanting to make different sounds, experiment with other instruments for a long time and it never really seemed to happen with Victim’s Family.”
Over the ensuing year and a half Ralph tracked songs in a rehearsal studio with a wide variety of bay area musicians: Kevin Carnes (Broun Fellinis), Ed Ivey (Rhythm Pigs, Brass Monkey), Eric McFadden (Eric McFadden,P-Funk), Mark Pino (Birdsaw) and Nicky Bernardi (The Sick), Larry Boothroyd (Victim’s Family, Hellworms, Saturn’s Flea Collar),SF street punkers The Black Furies and veteran Bay Area drummer Jon Weiss.
The songs run a wide stylistic gamut ranging from the pop-punk of “Ex-Wife” and “Chinese Phrasebook” through the Latin surf of “Free to be Freaks”, where a spooky theremin weaves it way through bongos and percussion. The moody and ironic tones of “Anthem for the Depressed” and the electric guitar bashing in “the Vulture’s Breakfast” give way to a stark piano and drum arrangement for “You’re the Reason”. “Spring Fever (Hit Single)” features Ralph singing an upbeat love duet with a synth that sounds like R2D2. “Sacred Cow” is a deep Fender Rhodes groove with lyrics about a screwed up relationship, interrupted by an over the top electric mandolin solo while “Bye-Bye” sounds like the Beach Boys flipping you off. Sousaphone bass lines, angular guitar and ice skating rink organ battle it out in the acerbic “Never going back to Petaluma” which also features a spoken word part in Spanish over a nylon string guitar solo which evokes something akin to being dumped over a pitcher of margaritas. Ralph and the Black Furies finish the album with a power chord version of “You’re The Reason” which kind of leaves you wondering what you’ve just been listening to.