Life is a mystery filled with many important questions. Why are we here? What happens when we die? What horrible fate is in store for poor little Honey Boo Boo? Fortunately, those questions have pretty simple answers. They are: 1. Who cares? 2. Who knows? 3. Oh, you know exactly what’s going to happen and it ain’t going to be pretty and we’re thinking that it might involve three DUIs, five cases of shoplifting, and the formation of the most sinister group of child-star super-villains ever, the Hasbeen Coke Heads. But perhaps no other question that we can ask — and for which we can get an answer — is more important than this: What in the bloody hell is a Skwirl Grinda, you know, aside from one of the Holy City’s heaviest heavy metal acts?
Camden McIver, the guitarist for Skwirl Grinda, has an answer, and it all takes place within the band’s rehearsal space in a building in McIver’s backyard that legend has it is a former grow room. (Warning: If you are easily offended, please stop reading now. There will be blood.) “There’s this old belt-driven ventilation system in [the building],” McIver says. “The first time we ever plugged it in, there was this squirrel nest in it and we didn’t know it.”
He adds, “It starts cranking up and everything starts spinning and then sticks and leaves start shooting out of it and then a dead baby squirrel flies out of it. We called that thing the squirrel grinder. Whenever we were in there working on projects, it’d be hot in there, and we needed to get the air moving before we put in an A/C unit in there, and we’d be like, ‘Crank up the squirrel grinder.’ ”
Needless to say, McIver and his Skwirl Grinda cohorts — Shaun Rodgers (vocals), Mark Appelt (drums), Richard Horton (bass), and Aaron Firetag (mandolin) — like a good laugh, even if the punch line is unappreciated by the more sensitive among us. And right now, they have a few good reasons to smile. After a botched first recording, Skwirl Grinda have finally released their debut disc, a self-titled album that hit the shelves last week. “Half of our songs are inside jokes,” McIver says. Take “I Want the Gold” for instance. It was inspired by the Mobile, Ala., leprechaun, one of the most enduring internet memes around. And then there are some other choice titles, like “For Loco,” “Gauntlet of Stench,” and “D.S.F.S.U.” or “Drinking Smoking Fucking Shit Up.”
McIver, Rodgers, and Firetag had recorded many of the tracks for their debut before their current lineup was solidified, but after Horton and Appelt jumped on the bozo bus, the band decided to give it another go. “We weren’t originally happy with what we had, and so we decided not to release it. And we had some newer songs that weren’t on the old one that we wanted to add to it, take some of the kind of cheesier ones off of it,” McIver says. “We finally found the sound we’d been trying to create for awhile, so we wanted to have that on the CD.”
The idea for Skwirl Grinda was hatched several years ago when McIver and Rodgers got together to create a film. “We were working on music for this claymation project that we were doing,” McIver says. “It kind of slowly turned into this band.”
Still, McIver and Rodgers haven’t abandoned the claymation video entirely. “We got some voice overs to do on it, and then it’ll be done,” he says. “We’ve got one shorter one we did before that, but then we realized we were kind of good at it, so we took the time to build full sets, which took us a full year.”
They also have batted around a couple of names for the film, the most notable being Clowns on Crystal and Two Clowns, One Crystal. We vote for the latter. “It’s just these two clowns and they’re hanging out on the street drinking, and then an alien ship crashes and the alien has this powerful crystal device that these other aliens are after. So he gives it to the clowns,” McIver says. “And then it’s just pretty much random acts of clown-on-alien violence after that.” He hopes that the film will be completed next year. We can’t wait.