Bear Bungle

Bar McKinnon Interview


I love getting in first when it comes to doing interviews. I donít mean by being the first to break a story but being first in line on a day where said interviewee is subjected to hours of often unwanted probing from intrusive, perceivably rude, supposed journalists.


I was lucky enough to be the first to speak to Clint ĎBarí (pronounced Bear, itís German) McKinnon, by default that is, on such an occasion. ďThis is actually the first one, I missed one this morning, but I have another five lined up for this afternoonĒ, he tells me as I ask him if he is shit bored yet with answering questions, thinking jackpot as I gauge his response.


So I precede cautiously asking a safe question to keep the ball rolling, ďMost people know you from playing in a band environment, so what can we expect from you by yourself?Ē


ďYou can expect me shitting myself on stage and maybe having a stuttering fit,Ē he admits foxingly, as if he is joking yet showing he is deadly serious. Nerves, we all have them, some show it more and for that matter handle them better than others. Bar tells me from the get go that he is nervous about embarking on a solo trek across oz, yet this is the only moment throughout our 30 min conversation that he lets on his anxiety, brooding confidence as words flooded from his mouth, about everything that I dared ask as our conversation covered numerous surprising things.


Sure Bar has been a member of Mr Bungle for the last 15 years, but this interview was supposed to be about him and his tour. I didnít want to introduce the inevitable subject of Ďthe bandí. I guess I didnít want to seem rude talking about something else other than what the subject was supposed to be about, Barís tour. But the more I think about it Mr Bungle is at the centre of Bars trek in that he is proclaiming that he hasnít given up and put his musical life on hold just because other people within the band environment have decided to place it on an indefinite holding period.

ďAh I donít know itís hard to say. Iím still sort of working it out,Ē he continues. ďBut itís almost going to be me doing karaoke to my own little recordings. Hopefully it all goes well. Itís just going to be me playing a little bit of sax, a little bit of flute, and singing and playing guitar and playing keyboards along to a minidisc, in a large part, so itís going to be a little bit funky but hopefully it all works out.Ē


ďYouíre one of those buggers that everyone hates, you can play every bloody thing.Ē I joke to him, as he gets through his never ending list of instruments. ďI can sort of fake it on everything,Ē he quickly professes, ďThatís just a result of being spread thin over the years by Bungle, you know. I never played flute until they asked me too and stuff like that, but that was good and itís gotten me to be a more rounded musician I think.Ē


There is no solo album for Bar to actually promote with this tour so I was curious as to what he would actually be playing when he comes to town, ď I am going to be doing some stuff I wrote when I was 17 and then Iím going to being doing some more recent stuff that I have done that hasnít been put to CD and released or anything. I was sort of realising that I am doing everything backwards. You know instead of getting a CD recorded and then going and shopping it around and promoting it. Iím sort of taking it straight from the bedroom and just throwing it on stage and letting it go from there. Ultimately what I want to do is get a band together to play my music make it more of an organic experience for people and of course to get other people involved and bounce ideas off.Ē


ďI am just trying to keep things going and get stuff out there as well. Cause I know that people are really curious and are wondering whatís going on with Bungle and I figure this is something that I can do for them. I know itís short of waiting the next year and a half for the next Bungle album or waiting forever for an album thatís never going to come. I figure that I let people know that I have been sitting here for the last three years doing day care with the kids essentially. I am just as antsy as anybody else you know, as (much as) any other diehard fan is to hear new stuff. So I figure this is a little something that I can do to let people know that I am still in there writing stuff, that I am still being creative. At the same time though itís a selfish thing for me to get out there in front of an audience and see how things go. Before I go Ďah fuck ití and sweep it under a rug and itís forgotten forever.Ē††††††


You may be wondering why then would Bar choose Australia to do a solo tour when he is from the States. It turns out that he is now based in Melbourne with his Australian wife and their two children. ďWeíre here to be near grandma and grandpa and free baby sitting, at the moment,Ē he jokes, before continuing, ďAll my friends are in other cities or overseas. With Bungle the most I have heard from Patton is an email a month ago saying that he is booked out for 2003. Fair enough the guy is always booked out, but I continue to send him my ideas, some of which you may hear on this little tour, and I continue to send them tapes with the slim hope that one day Bungle will do something again. Iím not going to sit there and go ĎAh fuck ití (he mockingly sulks), since I havenít heard from them. I am going to continue to send them tapes and go ĎI have ideasí. Basically Iím like everyone else out there thatís going ĎWhen? When is something else going to come out and what are they doing?í Iím just as frustrated as anybody else out there, because I know what amazing things can happen with the group, so for my part I am continuing to compose and send them my ideas. Iím not giving up hope from my side of things, even though I know Mike said in an interview relatively recently that ďas far as he was concerned Bungleís over,Ē but I donít know if he was just sending up some sort of test balloon to sort of shake Trey out of his mountain top studio and wake (him) up and get in touch with him. Cause Mike and Trey have sort of a silence grudge match going with one another. Iíve said it to people a million times that in the larger scheme of things I realise they donít need each other to do what they need to do creatively, but when they can get together they are like an unstoppable force. I wouldnít say they are a Lennon and McCartney by any means as far as song writing goes, but there is something incredible that can happen. I feel that there is so much music with the band that has yet to be done. Itís like only three albums and Jesus Christ like four to five years between each one of them. Itís just a joke! I would love it if we could just put anything out, cause there is so many things that we have recorded that are finished that have been mastered that are just sitting there, and itís just like well fucking release them if we are not going to do anything in the near future just release it. But people are sticklers and they just donít want stuff to get out there that isnít polished to just soÖ and whatever. But Iím like ĎGod the name of the band is Mr Bungle, lets fucking put something out there, itís like big deal. People are there and theyíre curious and theyíre waiting and I squirm for them, to the extent of itís like Ďfucking hellí. But at this stage itís up to Trey and Mike to bury the hatchet and find some time in the schedule that we can reconvene, Cause until I hear someone say ĎBar itís fucking over man, stop calling, stop sending tapesí, Iím not going to give up.Ē††††


This was truly one of the most interesting and memorable interviews that I have ever done and I canít wait for Barís show at the Northern Star Hotel on July 27th supported by Melbourne D.J magician Dr EL Suavo. And as his press release says, ďDonít be a schmuck, make sure you are present at this groundbreaking event. What will you tell your grandchildren if you donít make it?Ē


Kieran Wicks