What happens when you take an album so personally that you track down the artist to get your questions answered? Guest author Bazoo finds out in this deeply reflective review of Booze Bastards “The Blind Leading The Blind”, the latest release from Tornts and Billy Bunks, and interviews one half of the group, Bunks.
Since being assigned the onerous task of reviewing ‘The Blind Leading The Blind’, I’ve been writing down questions. Questions are all I have, really. I’m flummoxed because I’ve never been treated like this, so I have a few questions.
Let’s go through them, after a period of personal reflection.
Firstly, a summary review follows:
It’s not the album I have an issue with; it is not the tracks that make that album up. They’re all A-grade. Tornts’ production is as good as it gets on these shores. He and Bunks’ verses have more character in them than most of the rest of all of theirs do – these, our resident be-hoodied types and all their dull bars – put together. Dull people make dull bars, is what I’ve always figured. The scene was full of dull, rude people when I was around it. I assume it still is. You’ll have to let me know (not really, don’t bother). Booze Bastards have the rare ability to make me want to hear the end of their song, too. This may be partly because when that happens I stop being insulted; mostly I put it down to their (what I consider to be) signature rants, which really are as funny as hip hop ever gets on these shores. Those rants have a ton of life in them. It’s perfect for a drinking album, because you imagine yourself talking booze-addled shit with them. That’s the magic. They are the masters of rattling on while drunk. They make you want to drink. And this is a drinking album. It’s a new formula, say I. I tell you this: The Blind Leading The Blind is the best hip hop ode to boozing that there is – here, or overseas. It’s a magnum opus for the sour, squinting drunk. If you don’t believe that now, never mind; you’ll end up believing it anyway in 5-10 years when enough time has passed that the scene consensus suddenly becomes that it always felt this way (hip hop heads are great at this kind of shifting groupthink so you won’t have any trouble coming around then).
So none of that’s the problem.
The problem is that I’ve never been treated like this. The problem is their miserable attitude. The pair of them – Tornts and Billy Bunks – have no right to treat me this way.
Look. I’m a 31-year-old man. I’m a man now. Why do I have to be talked to like this? I’m a 31-year-old man, with responsibilities and people that rely on me, and I have to start out listening to this album with Bunks wheeling on me and yelling in my ear, ‘CUNT I’M FUCKIN’ MILKED’ on the opening joint, The Blind Leading The Blind. That’s the opening ‘lyric’.
I’ve been working all day. I have had a hard day. I am tired, for God’s sake, tired. And Billy Bunks thunders in and yells that in my face. In my ear. He shouts it at me. This the very first item of information passed on to me, the listener. Who paid money for this album. Immediately after that, in the same verse, Tornts literally takes all my money out of my ‘feathered purse’ that I left on the bar – which I did very reasonably thinking that no one would take it – and uses my hard-earned cash to buy bottles of Polish vodka, gin and such for himself. Then he runs back and tells me all about it in his song. Perhaps it’s that I didn’t notice I was being robbed of my pay because I was still reeling from Bunks having yelled at me.
This all happens within roughly the first minute of the album.
31 years of toiling away in this God-awful life, reckoning with my own sin, working to make ends meet and trying in vain to make it all come together, and this is all I get? Is this the treatment I’ve earned?
Well… You know, things were there that used to soothe me. I used to have a home. Not a house, a home. There, I used to come home to my girlfriend. That eased the pain of this purgatory somewhat.
But we broke up this year. Yeah, nah, don’t worry about it. It was a slow decline. We’re still mates. But yeah, it was a good six years and it hurt. It was for the best. We’ll always be in touch. Nah, seriously, it’s fine, mate.
At this point I’m thinking about my old life, listening to the second track, the first single from the album, Taint Brothers. Couple of tears in my eyes. Just reminiscing. It wasn’t a perfect life but there were still a lot of good times back then. Too many to count, if I’m to be honest. I’ve got no more money now, after Tornts at the bar, but at least I have the memories of the good times with my ex.
And, then. Then, Billy runs in with a longneck and bellows at me: ‘Your bitch is an orca / She walks like an orc, cunt / That was me who called her’.
That was him who called her.
You know, I asked her if she was cheating on me. I gave her the chance to admit if she betrayed me. She said no, but after six years, you get a sense for these things. I found messages, that kind of thing. She never admitted to it. But… That was him. It was Bunks who called her. To be told like this? On a stupid fucking rap album? Why? Where did I go wrong?
Aren’t you supposed to enjoy these songs? Why did I pay money for this?
Why are these men so glad that I’m parched? Why can’t I have a drink too? Don’t they want me to drink with them? Isn’t this whole thing about drinking? Apparently they’ve never, ever been gladder than when I’m parched. WHY? It’s been a hard fucking year. What is wrong with me?
Guess what. No, don’t guess. I saved my cat from dying this year. I’m a 31-year-old man who snatched his cat from the jaws of death. He was lost and starved, lost for seven weeks. I nursed him back to health when I found him. At day time, I went to my office job that I can’t get time off from and then at night time, I blended up cat food in a blender and then injected it into his neck with a big syringe. It was hard, but he’s OK now, and I love him all the more. But, hey.
Hey, according to Tornts, here’s all that makes up who I am: ‘Suited and frail/ You’re a Susan for sale’. That’s it. That’s all I am.
I’m sorry I have a day job, Bilious bloody Tornts. I’m sorry I need to work to pay for the cat food to inject into my cat’s frail neck to haul him back from the brink of death. I’m sorry I need to save up to rebuild my broken life now that I’m single and lonely.
Here’s some other things I’ve been told that I am by The Blind Leading The Blind:
- Australian salmon
- Ace of Base cassette single
- Jiminy Cricket
- Little yelper
- Earthworm Jim
- Droopy-cunted cunt
- Son of a hedgehog
- Mr. Passion Fruit (unsure if this is me or my essence)
- Scratched CD
- Entrapped sheep cunt
Thanks. Thanks a lot. My money for your invective. Good deal.
Right, so, OK. I said I’d never been treated like this. I said I had questions. I think after all this treatment that it’s best I go directly to the source with them. I deserve answers to these questions, I think you’ll agree.
So I’ve come to Billy Bunks with some questions.
Bazoo: So, I’ve listened to your album. You’ll see I reviewed it. I’ve just given you the review. What do you have to say about that, then?
Bunks: Ha ha. I say shoosh, you glum pig. There’s too many variables. Words, language. Too many variables. We had to call you some of the things; how could we not?
Now, I don’t want people to think Booze Bastards are all about variables, perishables, or any otherables, but there’s that many things out there that we potentially could have called you that it’s only logical we are going to single you out as being quite some number of them. It’s that exact type of reasoning that led to us feeling quite at ease with accusing you and anyone else who listened to the track of being personally guilty of having leather kicks, a quiff and ‘owning the floor’. And when you think about it you really, really do. All of them do. That’s not a metaphor either, that’s just the typical type of shit that everyone who is not us gets up to on a day-to-day basis. Quite frankly, we’re sick of it. Something had to be done about it. Something has to be said. We elected ourselves. The things we say on this album simply had to be said. Especially the gloating. Booze Bastards are about the gloats.
Did I mention we elected ourselves? We did.
Bazoo: On the subject of your array of gloats, even the most casual Booze Bastards listener will agree that your album confirms both you and Tornts as very accomplished drinkers. I can see that you drink a bit.
You also present as completely insufferable drinking partners. You are two horrible, jeering winos, pissing over public benches and warding off all would-be fellow drinkers with a lot of loud and bad words. And taking their feathered purses and robbing them. And calling up their girlfriends so that you break their hearts and their six-year relationships.
Yes, so what exactly do you both want? Do you simply want to be able to drink all of the drinks and have everyone everywhere boot off all the time? Would part of you ache to be a Dionysus, set apart in the middle of a throng of out-of-control drunks like you? Do you then thwart your own will and defy yourself when you drive your own flock away with nasty insults that you can’t keep in? What… do you… want?
Bunks: I want to see Danny DeVito back on top. You don’t even get to see how old he looks these days. Ya still picture him in his Twins glory but ya know it ain’t so.
I want the lights bouncing off the brass section to astonish and blind.
I would like to be able to discuss our live show with you.
I want more Dickensian taverns and cruel barkeeps. Sick of ‘em being friendly and cool and bopping along. Like fuck, get the lager and stop dancing. Everyone is facing you because you’re standing between them and the piss, not because you’re on a catwalk.
As for the mixtape… the original hopes, intentions and dreams for that cunt of a thing withered and perished somewhere along the dark and sodden path we ended up on. They were lost completely. There’s no joy or reward in what we created. I couldn’t tell you what we want or what we once wanted.
The whole process was corrupt.
Bazoo: I see. Well, perhaps a chance to cleanse yourself might present itself to you. Do you think you might have anything to apologise for? Perhaps this is the right time to tell a certain someone that you’re sorry.
Bunks: No. We are not sorry. We aren’t sorry for the loss of your feathered purse and your subsequent teary cramps. Nor are we sorry that you were forced into a room with suited men, or that your female relatives now dwell in dirty kitchens. Both of us are not sorry, and neither of us are. Why? Well it’s simple: You did this.
It was your greed that made you find employment amongst suited men. You wanted the scraps off their table. Not content with greed, your pride got to you and you wanted to show off – so you bought a feathered purse to put the leftovers of their leftovers in. To attract attention. In this case, the wrong kind from The Wrong Kind.
It’s a familiar tune played on many a greedy consumer’s fiddle: ‘Got Fuck All Left’. Small wonder your womenfolk are turned to a low and common alchemy amongst steam and steel and grimy tiles they must mop to subsidise you. You did this. We simply held up the looking glass.
Bazoo: You really don’t want to drink with me, do you? Do you. I don’t understand how you’re so into this booze but so selective of who you do it with. You’re actively refusing to drink with me, aren’t you?
Bunks: We will drink with you, friend. We really don’t like you. But we will. You must understand it is the very nature of drink that makes friends out of enemies, enemies out of friends. It dehydrates when you are thirsty. Pure alcohol will kill you if imbibed. It is a cunt of a thing, the demon drink. A toxin. A liar. A thief. It will take all meaning from everything that brings you true joy.
Join us in its clutches on the road to loneliness and ruin. Your shout.
Album rating: 9/10. I can’t shout you a damn thing, Bunks, because as you’ll recall, someone’s stolen all my money.
King Bazoo of Unguent reviews and marks the addresses of dead animals, garbage and shit found in gutters in a lunatic’s vain attempt to ‘beat Broadsheet at their own game’: Unguent.net.au and Facebook.com/unguent