Hide the women and children — in fact, hide everyone — because the Zombeatles, a group of “undead” British pop musicians who are hungry for human flesh, are about to invade Bordentown. “The Fab Gore” are coming to the Record Collector on Halloween night, Saturday, October 31, to perform an all-ages show. Look for Jaw Nlennon, Pall Ickartney, Gorge Harryson, and Dingo Scarr to roll out gory classics like “I Want to Eat Your Hand,” “Dead Prudence,” and “Hey Food.”
The unsuspecting alternative rock group the Gomers will open — and then will be eaten, according to Biff Blumfumgagnge, who “channels” drummer Dingo Scarr. “Even though undead, the Zombeatles are able to rock and roll and had old and young alike holding up lighters at the first Record Collector appearance last Halloween,” Scarr says in a phone interview from his home in Madison, Wisconsin. “It’s kind of like an old Monkees episode, where the Monkees are running around town. But this is the Gomers being chased through town by the Zombeatles. We’ll start out as the mild-mannered Gomers and the Zombeatles will end up taking over.”
For readers who might be confused, the Gomers are the flip side to the Zombeatles, kind of the yin to The Zombeatles’ yang. In fact, they’re the same guys. In addition to Blumfumgagnge, the Gomers are rounded out by Stephen Burke, Andy Buckner, and Jonathan Dichter. It was through their warped minds that the Zombeatles were birthed in 2004. “The Gomers have a fertile creative mind and this was one of the goofy mash-ups that seemed obvious,” says Blumfumgagnge. “The idea kept coming back to us. We looked around and saw no one had done it yet. It’s a big enough concept that everyone can sink their teeth into, so to speak.”
They have created an entire Zombeatles parallel universe, complete with a “mockumentary,” mapping a history of the group, with references by and interviews with other zombie bands, like the Rolling Kidney Stones, the Dead Clark Five, Dead Zeppelin, and the ZomZombies. In 2006 their creative minds put together a music video, “Hard Day’s Night of the Living Dead,” filmed mostly near Blumfumgagnge’s house. Viewers will see the Zombeatles — in glorious black and white — playing music, scowling at the camera, mowing the lawn, scowling some more, doing housework, frightening families in a nearby park, and screaming “brains!” over and over. In homage to the Beatles’ classic film “A Hard Day’s Night,” the Zombeatles get as zany as possible for the undead, running in and out of the camera’s frame toting a surfboard at one point (in Wisconsin?).
“Hard Day’s Night of the Living Dead” gained international status when horror film director and musician Rob Zombie chose it as one of his top YouTube Halloween video picks of 2007, resulting in more than a million views worldwide.
Earlier this year, the band released an album called “Meat the Zombeatles” (on Capitol Punishment records) and another mockumentary called “The Zombeatles: All You Need Is Brains.” The group was a hit last year at the Record Collector, despite a small mishap with a fog machine. This year, the Zombeatles will also appear at the Tritone in Philadelphia, on Thursday, October 29, and at the Asbury Park Lanes in Asbury Park, on Friday, October 30.
Born January 17, 1964 (just weeks before the real Beatles performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show”), Blumfumgagnge is a musician, guitar technician, sound engineer, and producer in and around Madison, Wisconsin. He is also an instructor of music and recording technology at the Madison Media Institute.
“I’ve been playing since childhood, mostly violin in school and youth orchestras,” he says. “I also played viola, cello, bass, then took up guitar. I was involved in a lot of singing groups and bands, since there are a lot of crazy bands here in Madison.
“There was always music in the house, since my mom was a piano teacher,” Blumfumgagnge continues. “I can remember being on my hobby horse and hearing ‘The William Tell Overture.’ Even though that memory came from a child’s brain, it’s very strong. To this day I associate that piece with my hobby horse!”
His dad was a budget analyst, not particularly musical, but could whip up some wild fusion meals, usually with a hint of Asian spices. “My dad had been a cook in the Army during the Korean War, and he brought that kind of creativity to the home table. I wish I could do my dad’s cooking,” Blumfumgagnge says. “Parents play a larger role than we think.”
The Beatles’ music that underscores the Zombeatles is executed with real musical chops, and the musicians obviously have listened to the Fab Four closely. “‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ came out when I was about four or five, and I must have found a scratched copy of it in a Goodwill store,” Blumfumgagnge says. “I was attracted to the cover, but then played it over and over, and it formed my musical tastes. It was one of those records that started it all. I still love ‘Within You, Without You.’ As a little kid, hearing the sitar on that song really stayed with me, and I still love Indian music.”
After earning an associate’s degree in vocal performance in 1986 from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Blumfumgagnge opted to lean more toward his instrumental skills, recording and touring with bands ranging from Jimmy Black’s Mothers of Invention to someone he refers to as a “crazed banjo genius” from South Carolina.
Since September, 2004, he has toured and recorded with the legendary British guitarist and producer Robert Fripp, as well as King Crimson and Fripp’s League of Crafty Guitarists. In addition, he has worked with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra; Sigtryggur Baldursson, former drummer for the Sugarcubes (the Icelandic group formerly fronted by Bjork); songwriter-guitarist Pat MacDonald; and American guitarist Adrian Belew. Fripp and Belew make an appearance on the Gomers’ latest self-release, “Mike Zirkel.”
“I’m Fripp’s stateside guitar tech,” Blumfumgagnge says. “I set up his gear and help him move it, and I also run the sound for the shows when he tours. I’m lucky to be able to work with him. I had been Adrian Belew’s guitar tech in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and met and befriended the guy who was Robert’s guitar tech. He got invited to tour with Dweezil Zappa [son of the late Frank Zappa], which had always been a dream for him. When he left to tour with them, there was an opening for me.”
Blumfumgagnge has also performed with Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s “funky drummer”), reggae singer Lee “Scratch” Perry, and New York-based Zappa tribute band Project/Object with Napoleon Murphy Brock.
Aside from imagining parallel worlds of undead British rock groups, most of his creativity is spent in the studio with the Gomers, which he describes as “twisted-weasel-in-heat-style alternative rock.” You can hear this electronics and instrumental genius — and humorist — at his best on songs like “Fripping the Rude Oud,” which features an oud, a Middle-Eastern cousin to the lute. You’ll also hear snippets of sound, conversation, and spoken word, someone starting a car engine, and even the family cat.
“If you hear the cat, then you’ve got good ears,” he says. “But yes, we did sample the cat. I’ve always had an aptitude for electronics, so playing in the studio, using modified instruments, was a natural fit.”
Around Madison, The Gomers are known as a comedy rock/experimental/progressive rock band, famous for their “Gomeroke,” basically, karaoke, but where the participants perform their songs backed up by a live band, not a recording.
For Blumfumgagnge, the highlight of his musical career so far came in the fall of 2004, when the late inventor and guitarist Les Paul was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music in Waunakee. The Gomers were chosen to play for the event. “Les was sitting right up in front, listening and he really enjoyed us,” Blumfumgagnge says. “He got up and performed with Steve Miller, who had been a student and good friend, and then he came up and jammed with us, which was a huge, shining moment. He wrote us notes, thanking us. What a cool, awesome cat he was, so humble. And like a little kid, he just wanted to have fun.”
The Zombeatles and the Gomers, The Record Collector Store, 358 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown. Saturday, October 31, 7:30 p.m. All ages show $15 in advance: $17 at the door. The Gomers on the Web: www.beeftone.com/gomers-home.htm. The Zombeatles on the Web: www.beeftone.com/zombeatles.html 609-324-0880 or www.the-record-collector.com.