Nothing’s worse than a rock band that takes itself too seriously. But have no fear—the Nigel Mustafa Memorial Quartet could never be guilty of that. A self-described “music therapy group from St. Axle Center for the Criminally Retarded,” NMMQ fuses ska, hip-hop, metal, country and jazz, and deems their musical style as “Avant ‘Tard.” They’ve been together since 1998, releasing Little Box of Barf two years ago and are set to release Rankle Dankle Fish with Hands this year.
Recently, I talked to lead vocalist Steven Parris, a.k.a. Father Victor Pickles of Sandwich.
Maui Time Weekly: Describe NMMQ—how did you begin?
Steven Parris: The band is sort of like this theater production and we kind of take on these characters. There’s the “real” story and then there’s this fictitious back-story [see www.nigelmustafa.com]. But the reality is that we’re all from an area north of Seattle and were playing in that scene for a while, and kind of remarked that, “Wow, that drummer’s really good. I’d like to jam with that guy!” or “That bassist is really quite good” and so we just sort of began as everybody’s side project, until it was quickly realized that the other bands sucked in comparison. So we decided to go with the winning band.
Do you ever run into opposition for your naughtier lyrics or off-the-wall stage personas?
No. People seem to look at our big ball of sacrilege as something that’s non-malevolent. It’s so silly and absurd that really, there’s been no problems along those lines. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many songs—especially with our new material that is totally PG-13, all the way. That’s part of the evolution of the band. We’ve been really lewd and lascivious in the past. And now we are more clever and subversive. That’s kind of one of the things that you’ll see at the show. Yes, we’re very irreverent but we really don’t target anybody in particular. The biggest target is, of course, ourselves. You know what I’ve discovered, though? Just a really, nice, friendly, dry hump on the leg eases any tensions in the room.
What are some songs on your new album?
We think our big hit is a song called, “Rasta Ninja.” It’s basically about this guy who lives in Trenchtown, Jamaica, whose dreadlocks operate as nunchucks. He just kicks everybody’s ass. We’ve got another song called, “My Mom’s in Jail Tonight,” which is a true story, sadly. My mother is a convicted felon, and the first woman in the state of Washington to be convicted of felony stalking. And I’m very proud of that.
Are you being serious?
I’m dead serious. What’s funny is, in my personal life—aside from being Father Pickles on stage—I’m not a criminalistic person whatsoever. I mean, I’ve got a masters degree from NYU. But my mother just went off the deep end. And so some of that primordial frustration exerts itself on stage to the enjoyment of others. Especially during “My Mom’s In Jail Tonight.” The key lyric in that song comes at the bridge when it says, “I bet my mom’s playing cards and taking bets, making love through the bars to the guards for cigarettes.”
Yeah, that’s quite touching…
Nigel Mustafa is based on entertaining people—the thrust of it is to reach out to our audience and put on a good show. We’re not up there trying to look cool or trying to get chicks. I mean, we got those in spades! I mean, those are lined up at the back of the van when we’re loading in—I mean, that goes without saying, sister! MTW