Tucson band calls its work ‘cartoon music’
Erik Ketchup, bassist and vocalist of local band Flagrante Delicto, hunches over the Club Congress bar, nursing his hangover with a Bloody Mary.
A fedora of sorts sits back on his head and his stretched ear lobes are plugged with eternally preserved beetles encased in glass. The rest of his wardrobe is drab and torn except for his immaculately clean neon green converse kicks.
After discussing various mustache waxes, drummer Aharon Wonky arrives and we move outside where the two can chain-smoke their hand-rolled cigarettes. Perhaps the only thing stranger than Ketchup himself is his music.
“Man, I’ve tried to be a singer-songwriter for years and every time I try to write a song, it’s like cartoon music,” he says with a hint of self-loathing. “I should call Warner Bros.”
After a pause he lifts the sleeve of his shirt to reveal an upside-down Warner Bros. trademark tattooed on his arm. On the other arm a crude tattoo of the devil fornicating with a woman peaks out from under his sleeve.
After being in a number of bands that Ketchup describes as “terrible,” in 2006 he started Flagrante Delicto, which is playing in this year’s Spring Club Crawl on Saturday. The group takes the stage at 1 a.m. at Club Congress, one of the 30 venues featuring 80 bands in the biannual club-hopping extravaganza.
Ketchup discovered the name for the band while watching divorce court. In legal terms it means, “to be caught in the act,” but the direct Latin translation is “while the crime is blazing,” he says.
“We’re writing from a different place. I feel like we’re infiltrating the music scene and it’s like a crime.”
While a variety of different local musicians play with Flagrante and record on their albums, the only official members of the band at this point are Ketchup and Wonky.
The duo met during a show that Flagrante was performing at Vaudeville before Wonky had become a member. Wonky, who worked sound for the venue at the time, was blown away after hearing Flagrante play.
“I’ve heard and mixed just about every local band and when I heard Flagrante they were the only band that I was like, “I want to drum for these guys. ‘ ”
Over the next few months Wonky continued to voice his interest in playing with the band but Ketchup dismissed him as just a fan. It wasn’t until a mutual friend brought Wonky and Ketchup closer that Ketchup would seriously consider Wonky for the part.
“I was like, ‘Yeah whatever, dude. You work at Vaudeville.’ Then we started hanging out because we found out we were sleeping with the same girl and I was finally like, “OK, I’m going to give this guy a chance.’ ”
Ketchup gave Wonky a copy of his CD and a week later Wonky returned, having memorized every drum part on the album just from listening to it. He was in.
Together, Wonky and Ketchup goof around like schoolboys, constantly cracking jokes and laughing with each other. It is this same playful and ridiculous camaraderie that shines through in Flagrante’s music.
The songs are comprised of a cacophony of various instruments including horns, keyboards and even marimbas with occasional vocals, all emulating the absurd nature of Wonky and Ketchup. The style of the music ranges from experimental to circus to dance rock and beyond. Perhaps the most surprising element of Flagrante is how genuine and thoughtful the members are about their seemingly erratic music.
“You can’t limit yourself when you’re writing music,” Ketchup says. “It’s just what comes out of you, and that’s what’s inside of my mind – it’s this cartoon music.”
Part of this “cartoon music” style came from a desire to buck against the confines of what Ketchup and Wonky call “the Tucson genre.” They preferred to create their own niche in Tucson music rather than follow in the footsteps of other local bands, Ketchup says.
“I was really tired of the name for the Tucson music genre being like desert-rock-alt-country-desert, so I just got angry and started writing love songs about coulrophilia (a term referring to sexual attraction to clowns) and clown sex.”
While Flagrante’s music may not be accessible to everyone and is probably a long way from getting them signed with a major record label, Wonky and Ketchup are simply concerned with making music exactly how they want – regardless of what others think.
“Now is the time for the independent musician,” Ketchup says. “Major labels are dying and it’s kind of a beautiful thing.”
This transformation is giving musicians freedom from trying to meet the demands of major record labels, Wonky adds.
“It puts way more creative control and power into the artist’s hands. You can build a fanbase online and people can get your stuff instantly. You can reach the world,” he says.
Flagrante played Club Crawl in 2007 and Wonky and Ketchup consider the event one of the best opportunities for local musicians to spread their music.
“It’s really fun to play for drunk people who live on the East Side that you’re never going to see again,” Ketchup says. “Usually when we play a show we have a pretty good turnout, but I can name almost everyone in the room. So it’s really nice to play at either a festival or Club Crawl.”
The band also will pass out free copies of their most recent CD, “Piss and Ink,” during the show. Their follow-up, which will incorporate even more instruments to create a wacky orchestra of sorts, is scheduled to be released by January.
Unlike other musicians, Wonky and Ketchup have no illusions about their careers and plan to continue living the dream of music and poverty.
“I’m very happy where I’m at right now,” Wonky says. “I’m not going to say what every band says: ‘Oh, we’d just like to make a living off playing music,’ because there are bands we love that all have day jobs.”
Ketchup shares his partner’s sentiments.
“If you really want something to happen for you it will. But it involves a lot more than that phrase,” he says. “I do what I love. Even though I might not have a meal today, as long as I get to play music. I might be in my 60s, homeless in the street, telling some kid about the time that I was in a band and did exactly what I wanted to do with my life.”
IF YOU GO
What: Spring Club Crawl
When: various times Saturday
Where: various venues downtown and along North Fourth Avenue
Price: $8 wristbands in advance (wristbands can be bought at both Zia Records locations.) $10 on the night of the event.
Info: 622-8848, www.hotelcongress.com
SPRING CLUB CRAWL SCHEDULE
*schedule subject to change*
Go to clubcrawl.net for updated schedules and maps.
BUD LIGHT MUSIC STAGE
(Fifth Avenue and Broadway)
8 p.m. – Black Tuesday
9 – Grams & Krieger
10 – Mr. Boogie Woogie
11 – Crosscut Saw
midnight – Whole Lotta Zep
(North of Toole, east of the former Greyhound station)
8 – Triple Double
9 – The Hounds
10 – Hipster Daddy-o
11 – Cosmic Slop
midnight – Spirit Familia
ZIA / MOUNTAIN STAGE (Fifth Avenue and Congress Street)
8 – Mozart’s Sister
9 – The Runaway Five
10 – Sunday Afternoon
11 – Skitn
midnight – Rootz Underground
TEJANO/LA PRECIOSA STAGE (Congress Street and Sixth Avenue)
8 – Nudoz
9 – Nudoz
10 – Ritmo Tejano
11 – 4th Nivel
midnight – 4th Nivel
RIALTO (318 E. Congress St.)
8 – Andrew Collberg
8:45 – Lonna Kelly
10 – M. Ward
midnight – The Jons
CLUB CONGRESS (311 E. Congress St.)
9 – Young Mothers
10 – R. Cougar
11 – Blind Divine
midnight – Static Session
1 a.m. – Flagrante Delicto
CONGRESS OUTDOOR STAGE (311 E. Congress St.)
8 – The Low Ones
9 – Crossing Sarnoff
10 – Haley Jane
11 – Lydian and the Amphybians
midnight – Mostly Bears
MAYNARDS (400 N. Toole Ave.)
9-11 – Batucaxé
THE DISTRICT (260 E. Congress St.)
8:30 – Al Perry
9:30 – Tracy Shedd
10:30 – La Cerca
11:30 – Naim Amor
12:30 a.m. – Al Foul
SPORTS ON CONGRESS (254 E. Congress St.)
9 – Test 1
9:45 – Black 1
10:30 – Shaun Harris with DJ Tarzan
11:15 – Big Meridox with DJ Bonus
midnight – Get Loose with DJs Bonus and Hometown Herm
VAUDEVILLE (110 E. Congress St.)
Church of Rock Revelations
Hosted by Rev. Larry
9 – Lovemound
10 – Thunderosa
11 – Great American Tragedy
midnight – Hellrancho
1 a.m. – Split Hoof
O’MALLEYS (247 N. Fourth Ave.)
8 – Standby Red 5
9 – Ethos
10 – Fracture The Times
11 – Augustine
midnight – Four, Five Six
THE HUT (305 N. Fourth Ave.)
8:30 – Katastro
9:30 – RAC
10:30 – Rasta Sauce
11:30 – Hecker
12:30 a.m. – Another Day
THE HUT OUTDOOR STAGE (305 N. Fourth Ave.)
8 – Geoffrey J.
9 – Dirty Me
10 – Cadillac Mountain
11 – The El Camino Royales
midnight – Uprooted
SHARKS (256 E. Fourth Ave.)
8:30 – Gaza Strip
9:45 – Los Nawdy Dawgs
11 – Avenida 6
midnight – DJ Chucky Chingon
RED ROOM AT THE GRILL
(100 E. Congress St.)
10 – Cassette Culture
11 – Gamma Like Very Ultra
midnight – Gabriel Sullivan
MARTIN’S (557 N. Fourth Ave.)
7-9 – Salvador Duran
CAFÉ PASSE (415 N. Fourth Ave.)
7 – TerraFormation
8 – Duo Sonido
WINSETT PARK (Fourth Avenue between Sixth and Ninth streets)
7-9 – Desert Bluegrass Association
DELECTABLES (533 N. Fourth Ave.)
7-10 – Nowhere Man and a
CHOCOLATE IGUANA (500 N. Fourth Ave.)
7-9 – Stefan George
MAGPIES (605 N. Fourth Ave.)
7-9 – Phil Borzillo
ENOTECA (58 W. Congress St.)
6-9 – Lamont Arthur
CUSHING STREET BAR (1988 W. Cushing St.)
7-10 -Jeff Lewis & Friends
(375 S. Stone Ave.)
7-9 – Sentido
SHOT IN THE DARK CAFE
(121 E. Broadway)
7:30 – Mark Bockel
8:30 – Special guest
9:30 – Pat Rickert
Plus more music on these stages:
Twelve Tribes (345 N. Fifth Ave.)
Kelly’s Market (51 N. Sixth Ave.)
Burger City (47 N. Sixth Ave.)