Bloodhound Gang

BLOODHOUND GANG frontman Jimmy Pop is so over-the-top in his political incorrectness, even Bill Maher must be impressed. He practices equal opportunity offensiveness; he gores all sacred cows. Pop riffs on blacks, whites, Asians, gays and straights, the mentally impaired, amputees, Mr. Rogers, the blind, Spike Lee, Kenny Loggins, Canadians… you get the picture.

So it seemed strangely appropriate that this self-proclaimed "spazmo" chose to conduct this interview from the men's room at the House Of Blues in New Orleans. Unfortunately for Pop, he didn't find what he was looking for in there.

"It's a really nice bathroom with that artsy shanty town motif," he said. "But I don't see a phone number for a midget who wants to go back to the hotel and roll around in a bathtub full of raw sausage with me."

This guy's imagination is rich – to say the least – with imagery. His ability to poke fun at virtually anything, especially himself, defines the Bloodhound Gang. "The songs are my sense of humor put to music. I have the sense of humor of a third-grader, so that's what I work with," said Pop, who holds a special place in his heart for "poopie jokes."

Judging from the stats on the band's first national tour, there are a lot of people out there who like poopie jokes. Folks who just don't get it may think these five guys from Philly are a bunch of dolts, but their ticket sales are very good. That takes the edge off barbs from critics who think Pop sniffed too much rubber cement in grade school.

"The people who come to the shows seem to find us entertaining," he said modestly. "That's been the goal all along and I think that's coming across pretty well on the tour. Before we went on the road, people thought we were a novelty act. At least we're not Dishwalla. Of course, they're talented. Maybe some people are into that."

The Bloodhound Gang's penchant for self deprecation cannot hide the fact that they've evolved into a real band. Pop, along with guitarist Lupus, bass player Evil Jared, turntable master Q-Ball and drummer Spanky G, can actually simultaneously rock and goof off. Their stage antics range from juvenile slapstick to borderline psychosis. Pop careens about the stage like a hyperactive drunk, and has been known to take a lighter to his body hair, while Jared endures some truly pointed physical abuse.

"When we play smaller clubs, we invite members of the audience up to throw darts at Jared's back," explained Pop. "We draw a target on him and people win t-shirts. He's had a tetanus shot and he cleans the darts every night, so it's OK."

There was no way of knowing the depth of the band's dementia when the single "Fire Water Burn" first hit the airwaves. The song started getting airplay on modern rock specialty shows before the group inked its deal with Geffen Records late last year. With a major label on board, the single took off, but the band still hadn't proved itself live.

Agent Ken Fermaglich at Artists & Audience wanted to make sure the Bloodhound Gang was not perceived as a novelty act on tour. "We really wanted to be certain the group would never come across as a track act," he said. "This is a band that really rocks and that you don't usually hit on a first tour and they've succeeded in building a real fan base."

Since this has been the band's first national tour, Fermaglich said they've all been very conscientious about the ticket price, which has never exceeded $10. He also wanted to present the group in an intimate setting so Pop could really interact with the audience and hopefully, leave them hungry for more.

"We've been playing smaller clubs where we could have done larger rooms," he said. "The goal was to generate some excitement and create demand so we can hit some of these markets again."

It's not the kind of strategy used on novelty acts and one hit wonders. Pop and the team behind the Bloodhound Gang are building a bona fide touring and recording career. The band plans to stay on the road through the summer and will record a new album later this year.

Right now, Pop and the rest of the group are enjoying their new found celebrity. "We got to see Marilyn Manson for free since we're with the same agency," Pop said. "He had just come off stage and he still had his contacts in when we met him. He had stuck rose thorns into his chest during the show and he's bleeding and he comes up to me and says, 'Hey Jim, what's up? I really liked your record.' He's like Richie Cunningham."

That unexpected kind of normality appeals to Pop since he never wants to wind up with a rock star attitude. "The *** thing could never happen to us because we have mirrors on our bus. One look and the ol' self esteem level drops a few degrees. There's no escaping my face," he said.

A solid management team helps Pop keep his head in check. The guys at Republic Records, the Bloodhound Gang's indie label, manage the group with brotherly love – literally. Siblings Monte and Avery Lipman run the show while their cousin Brett Alperowitz handles the band's day-to-day affairs at home and on the road.

"I usually deal with Brett because the other two yell at me too much," Pop said. "And Brett's older brother does our videos. It's very incestuous. Hmmmm… I like that idea." One senses a disturbed song about inbreeding is sure to come.