Mike Dillon is nothing, if not eccentric. Having held court with The Polyphonic Spree, Les Claypool, Ani Difranco, Garage-A-Trois and countless others, his mastery of percussion makes him an absolute joy to watch live and an in-demand guest for many touring musicians. Music fans know of him, but few know of his solo projects. Go-Go Jungle is a monstrous three-piece unit, led by Dillon behind the vibraphones and a sea of percussion,and joined by JJ Jungle on bass and Go-Go Ray on drums.
Rock Star Bench Press offers a manic blast of percussion and bass grown from Dillon’s passion for Butthole Surfers, Chuck Brown, The Minutemen, Milt Jackson and William Burroughs. The lead-off track is titled “Go Go’s Theme Song No.2 (I saw George Porter Jr. playing punk rowk with my pal Skerik),” and as you might imagine, this one is a treat. The energy bounces back and forth, from melodic vibes and grooving bass to blistering romps and spacey jam. The title track slaps you in the face with straight-up punk before turning on a dime and heading off into hip-hop grooves and laughable lyrics about run-ins with William S. Burroughs at the methadone clinic, lazy rock stars, tweakers, and a dominatrix.
“Redneck Tie Down Your Ladder” is more senseless freak-fest, telling of contractors in New Orleans whose ladders decapitate folks on I-10, and serving as Dillon’s metaphor for religions destroying the Earth with senseless dogma. This is out on the ledge, and all the better for it.
The album offers up a few covers alongside Dillon’s entertaining rants. The Minutemen’s “Vietnam” is grooving and spastic, filled with break-beats, shouting, and more funky vibes. The trio also covers Jane’s Addiction’s “Summertime Rolls” and kills it with drifting vibes leading into a sea of distortion.
Rock Star Bench Press is a great representation of the energy and ecstatic level of play that has made Go-Go Jungle’s live shows notorious for bringing down the house and turning into all night dance rages.
Rock Star Bench Press is out now on Hyena Records.