Interview with Al Buttt
By Jack Anus

Al, you've been part of the Ted Chain since 1983, but no one seems to know very much about you. Most Chain members saw you for the first time at the Battle of the Buttocks. This interview will try to show Chain members the "Musical Genius behind the Buttocks." We'll start with your early life. Where and when were you born?

I was born Aloysius Buttsloshkowicz, Junior, to Aloysius and Jadwega Buttsloshkowicz in Gdansk, Poland, in January of 1961. My parents left Poland under mysterious circumstances when I was about three months old. Theirs was an arranged marriage, which was quite common in their culture. After they married, their parents decided they would have a better life in America, so they were smuggled out in the cargo hold of a ship.

Unfortunately, my parents didn't love one another, or me, their only child. My mom used to call my dad, "im brzydi czloweik," which means, "the ugly man." He called her "czarownica Jadwega," which means "Jadwega the witch." I was "im zlosiwosc," which means, "the malicious one." When my parents learned English, I became "Malicious Aloysius."

I had a short childhood. I grew up on my own, mostly without supervision on the streets of [Washington] D.C.. One typical event occurred when I was four years old, when I was dropped off the third story balcony of the apartment complex where my parents lived, and landed head-first in a mud puddle, about six inches from the concrete sidewalk. My mother dropped me. When my dad asked her what happened, she said, "I was aiming for the sidewalk, and I missed."

My mother disappeared when I was twelve. She used to tell us that she was being stalked by this quadruple-amputee in a motorized wheelchair, who followed her around whenever she went out grocery shopping. We thought she was kidding, because this guy never seemed to show up when either myself, or my dad was around. One day she went out and never came back. They found her car in a ditch a week later, with no sign of her. The only clue was an empty wheelchair in the ditch next to the car.

What business was your father in?

He had an establishment called, "Buttsloshkowicz Laundry and Liquor." It was a combination laundry, liquor store, and bar. It was a popular place in our neighborhood, because you could take your laundry there and get sloshed while your clothes were drying.

How did you end up at M.I. Evel Highschool?

As you know, it was a school for juvenile delinquents. I guess I qualified as one, or at least the authorities thought I was one. The fact that I had been arrested a dozen times by age fourteen, for crimes ranging from underage drinking to car theft, certainly helped. I entered there in the fall of 1975.

Who was M.I. Evel, and what was the school like?

He was this guy who came up with all sorts of educational theories for educating "problem" adolescents. Most of it revolved around what you could call "cultural education." They taught you music, art, theatre, poetry, all sorts of stuff like that. They thought they were going to turn us into artists, opera singers, and poets. Didn't happen though. You know how some experts say prisons are schools of crime? Well, M.I. Evel was a school for degenerates. We learned from each other. One guy knew how to hot wire cars, another knew how to pick locks, a third knew how to make fake ID's, etc.... Eventually everybody knew how to do all of these things. Lots of guys came in here as grade C degenerates, and left as grade A degenerates, myself included.

Wasn't M.I. Evel closed in the early 1990's?

Yes. After [M.I. Evel] had been dead for a while, a woman came forward and said that in addition to having been his research assistant in the 1930's, she had been his mistress as well. She revealed that she had come up with the theories, and he had taken credit for them. She even had proof-notebooks written by him that backed her story. It caused a huge controversy, and the school was closed.

How did you get started in music?

As I said, all students had to take music class. Freshman year I met a guy named Derek Fone, who played the electric guitar, and another guy named Cot Fallek who played the drums. Cot already was in a band by this time, a percussion band called "The Fallek Cymbals." Derek showed me how to play the guitar, and then the three of us formed a band we called "The Fone Cops." The first song we wrote was called, "Busted."

It was a relatively small school, about sixty students per grade level, about two hundred and forty all together. Almost every student was in a band, or several. The school administration encouraged this, letting us use study hall time to jam with each other. So there were lots of friendships with other musicians, lots of bands, lots of fun.

You said it was a school for degenerates, who were some of the ones you knew there?

By my senior year the school was way out of control. It was kind of like that T.V. show "Hogan's Heroes." The students ran the school and the teachers were basically clueless.

Just as everyone was in bands, everyone was in gangs as well. Often the line between bands and gangs was kind of blurry. There were two main gangs in my class. One was led by this guy named Rock Derdy, who called his gang the "Derdy Dozen." The other big gang was led by V.J. Mishen, and his was called "Mishen Impossible."

My junior year V.J.'s gang removed the toilets from the school and held them for ransom. He liked Corona beer, so the ransom was for twenty-five cases of Corona. They left a ransom note telling the administration to leave the beer in a truck on a street behind the school. Just as he knew they would, the administration went along with the ransom, and V.J. got his beer. [The administration] was too stupid to figure out who did this, so he got away with it. Eventually, too many things like this happened, so when I was a senior they brought in a new principal. His name was Richard Heddsmoker. We quickly renamed him "Dick" Heddsmoker.

This unfortunately upset the "balance of power" between the students and the administration. There were too many crackdowns, too many changes made in his first few months. We decided [that] we had to do something about this. Mr. Heddsmoker's arch-rival was this teacher named Ron Rektal, who was both the music teacher and the disciplinarian. Ron thought he should have been named the principal, because he had seniority, having been at M.I. Evel for thirty years. We called him Rectal Ronnie, and called detention the Rectal Rendezvous. [We] did most of our devious planning there, when we were supposed to be, "contemplating our sins and their just punishment." Neither Ronnie nor Mr. Heddsmoker trusted one another, so we took advantage of this by sneaking into their offices after hours and planting evidence that made it look like each was plotting against the other. We figured the more time they spent keeping an eye on each other, the less time they'd spend keeping an eye on us. It worked. The beauty of the situation was that each guy had the support of about half of the administration, so neither was powerful enough to get rid of the other.

Mr. Heddsmoker had threatened to eliminate the jam sessions we used to have during study hall, but this got lost in the shuffle of his rivalry with Mr. Rektal. So they continued, under the new moniker, "The Dick Heddsmoker Band."

How did you end up with the name Al Buttt?

I decided Aloysius Buttsloshkowicz was not a "Rock and Roll" name. I chopped off the "sloshkowicz" and added an extra "t" to make things more interesting. I figured if I had a name as ridiculous as mine was, I might as well take advantage of it.

What other bands were you in at this time?

I was in and out of a variety of bands, mostly other guy's bands as a supporting musician. I knew this guy named Mel Enoma, and played for a while in his band Mel Enoma's Spread. I was also in the Chayne Gang, led by Paul Chayne. After being in these bands for a while, I wanted to have my own band [and] call all the shots myself. So, I formed "Al Buttt and the Enema Band." This consisted of myself on guitar and vocals, Derek on guitar, Cot on drums, V.J. on keyboards, and Rock on Bass. Rock was a scream. He pulled one of the most legendary pranks at M.I. Evel, which is pretty amazing considering the number of pranks pulled off over the fifty years the school was open. When I was a senior, he "faked" his own suicide. He hung himself in the gymnasium. We got to school and everyone was freaking out. We all gathered in the gym, and Rock was hanging "dead" from the roof. There was all sorts of screaming and shouting, as he was up too high for any of the ladders they had there to reach him. Mr. Heddsmoker called the cops, the fire department, and Rock's parents. We were all standing around watching when the fire department got there. They brought in a giant ladder, and just before they got up to him he opened his eyes, raised his fists, and screamed "HaaaaaHaaaaaHaaaa!"

Was he expelled?

No, he wasn't. His father, who was a very rich and influential businessman, had a three hour meeting with Mr. Heddsmoker. Rock said his father "made Mr. Heddsmoker an offer he couldn't refuse." [His father] funded a new music wing for the school, with three new rooms and dozens of nice instruments, which we ended up stealing or destroying, while Rock ended up serving only three days of detention.

I've heard you speak of your "Musical Philosophy." What can you tell us about it?

My philosophy, what I call the "Buttt Music Philosophy," is basically this: I believe in spontaneous, humorous music. I don't believe in a lot of rehearsals, planning, overdubbing, etc.... You have an idea, you turn on the amps, you crank. An idea can be a song title, a few lyrics, a chord progression. You let the music lead you rather than having a prearranged structure to the music. By necessity, I modified this stance later on with Uranus Rising, but that's another story.

Buttt Music is actually a combination of Rock, Metal, Blues, and television and movie music. You know, melodramatic stuff like they play on all those stupid T.V. shows we grew up on. The stuff that taught us about life since our parents certainly weren't doing so.

Buttt Music was something I wanted to do professionally, but unfortunately most record companies didn't understand it. No one wanted to sign us and give us the funds to record an album's worth of Buttt Music. The great tragedy of my life occurred when Al Buttt and the Enema Band signed with a small label in [Washington] D.C., called Up Your Ass Records. We had a deal where we would record our songs live, and they agreed not to interfere with the mixing and the production, just release the record that we gave them. We recorded an album called "Released on a Technicality," about life at M.I. Evel. I thought it was outstanding. At the last minute, the record company was bought out by a larger company, who will go unnamed here, who pulled the plug on us. They confiscated the master tape, and demanded we pay back the money they gave us to record it. This bankrupted us.

Is this when you committed suicide?

Yes. I went into my Dad's place [Buttsloshkowicz Laundry and Liquor], drank three bottles of Southern Comfort, and climbed into an industrial sized washing machine. It was all over in a matter of minutes.

Tell us now of your amazing experience in Hell.

Well, my family was never particularly religious, but I knew the basic story of Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, Devils and Angels. But I was not prepared for what I saw.

I ended up in a long, long line waiting to enter Hell. When I say, "long," I mean there were thousands of people in front of me. The line gradually sloped down into a dark, dank tunnel. We could hear screaming from deep within the tunnel, and it smelled worse than anything I could possibly compare it to.

After what seemed like weeks, this horrible looking guy came up to me. He looked like he had been dead for about ten thousand years, and had been preserved in a bottle of alcohol, like those things you see in museums. He told me he was the Demon of Music, and said that since music had been my downfall, it would also be my punishment. I saw a vision of myself standing in the crowd at a rock concert with grotesque, five mile tall demons on the stage, playing giant guitars. I understood that the concert would be very loud, equivalent to a million decibels on Earth. I would be in this crowd until the end of time, and when time ended, forever after. Not a very pleasant story, especially when I knew they wouldn't be playing any songs I liked.

As I stood there, someone else came up to me. He was tall and handsome, with a halo, and told me that he was the Angel of Music. He said he could help me, if I trusted him. He said that this demon's name was three billion letters long, and would take thirteen years to say. He said he could distract the demon by saying his name, and I could go back to Earth for this period of time, thirteen years.

Thirteen years for what?

Thirteen years in the body of another man. I would "possess" another man, and my mission was to get my songs recorded. Actually, there was more to it. I had to record a masterpiece, I was told. If I recorded a masterpiece, I would be reincarnated as myself. If I failed, I would retake my place in the line to Hell.

Part 2

Ted gets possessed, the Buttocks take shape, and Al critiques the Chain.

So how did you end up possessing Ted?

My dad sold my musical equipment, my guitar and stuff like that, to a pawnshop. Whoever bought my guitar would be possessed as soon as they took it home, plugged it in, and played "Purple Haze," my all-time favorite song. Ted was the one, buying my equipment for twenty dollars.

Ted was the caretaker of my soul, maybe that's a better word than saying I possessed him. I could communicate with him without necessarily controlling all his actions. We could think separately or together, which helped both of us. I taught him things, and he taught me things.

Tell us how the Buttocks were formed.

Well, I had Ted, but we needed some other musicians. This is where J.J. [Jammer] and "Little" Dick Beater come into the story. They were fans of the Ted Team, and word had gotten out that Ted was recruiting for a new band. They sent us a tape of "Hey J.J.". This was five minutes of pure insanity; I had never heard anything like it. It was recorded with both the random chord technique, and the random drum technique. The genesis of the random chord technique was this: J.J. randomly detuned or tightened the strings, and then played standard chords and scales, like barre chords or the blues scale. This meant a so-called normal chord progression, like A to D to E, or any arpeggio, like of an A Minor chord, was so far out of tune as to be unrecognizable as melody.

Beater's drumming sounded like he was using a pair of hatchets to hack his drum kit to pieces, while "keeping time" by randomly beating on the bass drum, and marking the end of a measure by throwing the high-hat and ride cymbals against the wall. The words are unintelligible -- J.J.'s sepulchral groan, and Beater's strangled wail sounded like death-row criminals frying in the electric chair.

Ted and I did a measure-by-measure analysis of "Hey J.J.." It was impossible to determine what key it was in, as there was no apparent relationship between the "notes" J.J. was playing and any known musical scale or mode. As far as we could tell, the first note was a very, very low A-flat, but after that, J.J. went up and down the fretboard without repeating any musical motif, so as to make a musical evaluation impossible.

As far as the [drumming] rhythm, there were only three measures in 4/4 time, scattered throughout the song. Things got really crazy, as Beater was throwing in measures of 7/4, 13/4 and 19/4 time. We even found one near the end that as best as we could tell was 27/4. Again, no measure seemed to repeat what came directly before it, or hinted at what was to come after it.

"Hey J.J." was not a song, it was the premeditated murder of harmony. Ted and I loved it. After listening to it about fifty times, and almost dying of laughter, we knew we had our guys. I liked how they were willing to break the rules, musically speaking, and I knew if I could channel their creativity into a semi-structured musical setting, we could have something great. We all got together, discussed our goals, and planned the Butt Festival 1983, to be held December 22, at Ted Team Studios. Ted originally suggested we call the band Al Buttt's Three Assholes, but I thought that was a little too obvious.

The Butt Festival was, by Ted's and J.J.'s admissions, quite chaotic. It seemed to be an all out assault on the senses. What happened?

Essentially, these guys were not yet capable of playing my songs. Also, they had the new musician's syndrome of wanting to play the songs of their heroes, songs like Stairway to Heaven, Paranoid, etc.... I had to allow them to do this, so they would grow as musicians. Despite this, there were several classic moments at the Butt Festival. I came to realize that there's no point in playing a song for five minutes if you can get the same point across with twelve seconds of feedback followed by an out-of-tune power chord.

There's a rumor going around that you were involved in the group Vomit as well. Is this true?

Yes. I see it this way. Writers write under different pen names all the time. They write a mystery under one name, a romance under another, a historical drama under a third. Why couldn't I do the same thing? I had musical ideas that required more than the three guys in the Buttocks. That's what was good about Vomit, the number of musicians we had to work with. It was more or less an ongoing series of jam sessions, like the Dick Heddsmoker Band. We had some guys that were always there, some guys who were there once or twice, and some guys who were more or less "guest stars" who showed up every once in a while.

What was the significance of the title "Adventure in the Dryer?"

That was about life at my Dad's place. We hung out there a lot, and would get horribly drunk, so bad that we'd forget what our names were. We ended up wearing nametags, just so our friends could tell the police who we were when we'd get arrested. It was a complete vomitorium there. We puked on the floors, on the tables, on the chairs, behind the bar, sometimes in the bathroom, everywhere. "Adventure in the Dryer" was about how we would get drunk and climb in the industrial size dryers, then turn them on and ride around in them. After a few minutes, we'd climb out and try to walk across the floor. We'd fall on our faces, puke our brains out, and laugh our heads off.

Who was Monica Egghead?

My dad had this friend named Boris somebody, who made his own beer, which my dad sold in his place. It was called Egghead Beer, and the joke was, it was supposed to make you smarter if you drank it. He advertised it with a poster with a beautiful blonde drinking the beer, wearing a cap and gown type outfit.

The night before we had a test or exam, we'd go in and drink Egghead Beer until we'd pass out. The next morning, we'd wake up and vomit our guts out. We'd end up having to cheat to pass the test. At some point, Derek decided the blonde's name was Monica Egghead, so when Vomit was formed, I decided she should be the mascot.

You, Jefferson Jackson Jammer, and "Little" Dick Beater all attended M.I. Evel. Would Ted have fit in there?

Yes, he would. All you have to do is look at the scam he pulled off for the "Adventure in the Dryer" album. That would have put him in the M.I. Evel Hall of Fame. Ted is a genius. A twisted genius, but a genius nonetheless. He would have been a gang leader, and the Ted Team would have been as powerful, and as diabolical, as Mishen Impossible or the Derdy Dozen.

How do you assess the members of the Jammers and later, the Buttocks?

I found the Jammer's whole satanic image to be pretty silly. They were about as scary as a couple of cartoon characters named Goofy and Mickey. I thought their random music technique was brilliant, and should not have been compromised by such a cliched image, but they were too frequently intoxicated to realize this. Nonetheless, the genius of their music was impossible to deny. Ted already possessed rudimentary skills as a musician, arranger, sound engineer, and producer, which I helped him develop further, making the Buttocks into a lethal team. Ted's sick sense of humor helped me stay in the background, because since J.J. and Beater assumed he was the source of the craziness that was going on, they didn't realize I was behind the scenes "pulling the strings."

As the leader of the Buttocks, I controlled the musical direction. The original songs were my songs, recorded just the way I wanted to record them. It was simply this: we got together, turned the tape deck on, and rocked. Most listeners notice that as time went on, [the musicians] became more capable of playing my songs, and we had less effort wasted playing cover songs. I think songs like "Voyage to Uranus," and "Fall on Uranus" were among the best I ever wrote. In fact, "Fall" was the first song I wrote using chords other than the standard power chords. All the chords in this song were Major 7th chords [I7-IV7]. I wrote the song titles, lyrics, and concert names. If we had done a video, I would have directed this as well. I considered "Washing Machine" for this -- we could have filmed it at my dad's place, showing police photos of my dead body in the washing machine, juxtaposed by the guys jamming in Ted Team Studios.

J.J. [Jammer] was a creative musician, but most importantly he was willing to follow [my] directions. I let him contribute his own ideas when appropriate, for example in the main riff to "Border Patrol"; however, if his playing started to get too cacophonous, I had Ted turn down the guitar in the mix.

Beater was harder to control, as he didn't like the constraints we put on him. He felt his talents were not being used appropriately. We only used the random drum technique sparingly, for example on the Possession Chronicle, and otherwise only wanted him to play a standard 4/4 beat, which he got bored with after a while. Honestly, there was not a large place for flying cymbals, mutilated drum heads, and 27/4 beats in songs like Washing Machine or Tribute to Indian. Also, the mayhem was damaging too much of the other equipment, which caused the cancellation of the Butt Session. The problems went on for a while, and then he decided to leave. He wanted to have his own band, and do his own thing, and not have [me and] Ted constantly telling him how to play the drums.

The Dick Beaters, his solo group, didn't work out either. That album was rushed, and Beater wasn't happy with the mix. To me, however, mix was not the right word. The song Dick's Bolero sounded like a medley of collapsing buildings, traffic accidents, and Beater randomly turning the knob of an AM radio, run through a cement mixer in fifth gear. Since there was no market for this type of music at that time -- I'm not sure there is one now, either -- the album flopped. This made him so disgusted with the music business that my idea [communicated through Ted] that his death could be faked, and he could "disappear" to begin anew somewhere else, sounded great to him. He had talked about an offer to go work for a scientist in London, and wanted to take it, with no remaining ties to the [Ted] Chain. So, the whole fake death was carried out. We hired some actors to do the hit, put an obituary in the paper, buried a coffin filled with bricks, the whole deal. Here's a bit of inside information: his name was changed to Ian Smithson Cromwelt [when he went to London]. We thought we would never hear from him again, and we were right.

I realized that as good as the Buttocks songs were, none of them were the masterpiece I needed to get out of my situation. An inner voice told me I had to do something different, revolutionary, daring, extreme -- something that only Al Buttt could give the world of music. This is when I started planning "To Be A Butt."

Tell us about the process of conceiving, writing, and recording "To Be A Butt."

I had Ted start gathering information. As I planned it, this was to be my dissertation, my thesis on the buttocks in Western Culture. Only I could write this song, me, the guy named Buttt. We gathered material from television, movies, radio, magazines, newspapers, you name it, anything dealing with buttocks, and the millions of jokes and situations about buttocks. What I realized I needed was a Magnum Opus of Buttt Music. I knew I would have to change my approach, that this would have to be meticulously planned, rehearsed, and recorded. So I started Ted gathering the material, and I did a lot of thinking.

Technically speaking, I learned something from every Ted Chain band from 1983 until the recording of "To Be A Butt." By this I mean that something from every one of those groups, be they Absolute Value or Big Toe, Natural Log or Anarchist Women, showed up in To Be A Butt. They all contributed to my vision.

The whole deal about how we signed to Mexico City Records, and started recording the fake band Kapital Punishment's album "Lethal Injektion" is well known. At this point, early 1995, J.J. [Jammer] had been out of the picture for a while. Ted had read an interview with him in a recording industry magazine, talking about working with Senor Jose, and we decided that we needed his help. I was running out of time on my thirteen year probation, and we reluctantly decided that Ted Team Studios would not be adequate for the requirements of "To Be A Butt." Ted and Scott [Bath Key] went down to Mexico City, posing as mariachi musicians, and made contact with J.J.. He was amazed at the story they told him, but I think he may have suspected an other-worldly influence to the Ted Chain a long time ago. Ted told him of the need to use Mexico City Studios, and that I wanted some elements of the random chord technique in the song. He quickly agreed to help us, and play on the song. We couldn't have done it without him.

Well, you know what happened. We finished the song, and got caught by Senor Jose. Luckily, just after we finished, I was reincarnated as myself! I had succeeded in creating a masterpiece, and was free from my terrible curse. Ted was freed from me as well. I used my old car-theft skills to hot-wire a helicopter, and rush in at the last minute, saving the guys from Senor Jose's firing squad.

Were you upset by the fiasco at the Battle of the Buttocks?

Upset? I was overjoyed! This was the way Buttt Music was supposed to be: loud, chaotic madness. I thought it was a fitting tribute to the Buttocks, by far my favorite band of any I have ever been involved in. This was also, due to technical problems, the largest ensemble to ever play a song using the random chord technique, making J.J. happy too.

Are you working on any projects now?

Yes, J.J. [Jammer] and I are working on something. It's an industrial project called "Ice Factory." It's just me, him, and a drum machine. He was playing for me some of the noisy industrial music he listens to, and we decided we would try to create some ourselves, while avoiding the cliches of the genre. It's very cold, sterile, inhuman music. We were watching television, a documentary about Antarctica, and J.J. said, "Antarctica is nothing but a giant ice factory." We quickly decided this would be an appropriate band title, and then we decided to call the album "Sounds of Antarctica." There's no singing, no lyrics, just sound bytes from various television shows on Antarctica. This will probably be just a one-shot deal, one album, maybe a few shows. We'll then reassess the situation.

Finally, do you have anything planned with Ted?

Ted always has a dozen things up his sleeve at any given time. We were in Ted Team Studios the other day, listening to some old tapes, and jamming on some ideas. We have a couple of things under consideration, which because of their uncertain nature I will not reveal at this time. Let's just say the Ted Chain will continue.


Copyright ©1997, The Ted Chain