John Cafiero and his band Osaka Popstar have worked with the cream of punk royalty: members of The Ramones, The Misfits, The Smithereens, and The Voidoids are just a few.
He’s never taken himself too seriously however, and he counts, among his diverse range of inspirations, the legendary radio host Dr Demento. Earlier this year Cafiero thought of and produced ‘Dr Demento Covered In Punk’, which was then released via the Demented Punk label.
The album is a 64 track collection of favourites from Dr Demento’s iconic radio show, re-interpreted and freshly recorded by punk, indie, and alt-rock musicians, as well as some demented takes on punk-rock classics. The two hour long record is also filled with a cavalcade of stars, plus anecdotes from the good Dr himself, in between songs.
Among those featured on the album are Fred Schneider (B52s), Joan Jett, The Misfits, Shonen Knife, The Dead Milkmen, Rasputina, and many more, including Dr Demento favourite, “Weird” Al Yankovic. Even William Shatner, Adam West, and Elvira, Mistress Of The Night, Make appearances. Not surprisingly then has the album been showered with accolades from the likes of Billboard, Rolling Stone, the LA Times, and CNN.
Also unsurprisingly, Osaka Popstar chose to cover one of the greatest, if strangest, songs ever played on the Dr Demento Show: ‘Fish Heads’, from 1978, by Barnes & Barnes. Originally the track was dreamlike, yet vaguely menacing, but in the hands of Osaka Popstar, it becomes propulsive, celebratory, even anthemic. Cafiero has kept true to the odd structure of the as well as its unearthly, sped-up backing vocals. They’ve paired the track with an animated clip which draws out the humour of the song, and the band’s punk attitude. Dr Demento – as well as Barnes & Barnes – even appear.
We even have a nod to Bill Paxton, who starred in and directed the original ‘Fish Heads’ video,and it’s been endorsed by Art Barnes himself, aka actor and musician Bill Mumy, who said,
“Osaka Popstar’s new animated video and rockin’ version of ‘Fish Heads’ is Bitchin’, Boss, Bodacious and Bold! I dig it Bigly. I can’t think of anyone who could’ve done as great a job! Uhh… well… maybe one band! Heh… YEAH!!”
You can find out more about the album on the Covered In Punk website, and check out Osaka Popstar here.