#21 – “Extra Krispy” (Mono Puff; 1998)

It's Fun To Steal
L.K.: Our first Mono Puff song! First song from either man’s side-projects, actually, and this is a great song to illustrate the sort of things you could do with a side-project that wouldn’t really fit in with the rest of They Might Be Giants’ musical output.
A.S.: Well, it’s not as if TMBG’s output really concedes to any sort of specific genre limitation, and it’s also not as if TMBG had never performed a disco song before.

L.K.: Yeah, there were some disco things in TMBG’s discography, but the Mono Puff stuff sort of goes crazy with the cheesy 1970s aesthetic. Musically, this is more or less straight disco, with some weird-ass beatboxing middle section.

A.S.: John Flansburgh’s love of classic disco fascinates me, and I wonder if any of it stems from his admiration for James Chance, given that he, at the peak of his popularity, went and did what no one really wanted or expected him to do and made a disco album.
L.K.: Dear reader, in case you can’t tell, we have so much stuff we want to ask Flans about other bands…
A.S.: It’s only because the influences are so numerous in his own music!
L.K.: Not that we wouldn’t also want to ask John Linnell about stuff too, but Flans’s likes and influences seem more far-flung and yes, are also more readily evident in his own music.
A.S.: But still, it’s interesting that someone would want to create a reasonably authentic-sounding mid-70s disco track in 1998. And we’re not even talking about “hip-Giorgio-Moroder“-disco, we’re talking about the fucking “Hustle”!
L.K.: See America? You can like punk and still have a serious disco appreciation.
A.S.: I’m thinking though that a lot of the punks who had that knee-jerk reactionary hatred to disco were the sort of shallow (and very likely racist/homophobic) sorts of punks who had more in common with the testosterone fueled, rockist bozos who started “Disco Sucks” rallies at baseball fields than the thoughtful, more-art damaged punks who embraced a whole bunch of music, which I’m guessing was the more the crowd that Flansburgh associated with. I mean, it just hit me that Chance’s disco album wasn’t all that unprecedented, given that Blondie went for an even more direct disco sound a year before Off White was released. There’s a significant overlap between the two genres – Michael Zilkha and ZE records. So yes, disco makes sense, but why in 1998, who knows.
L.K.: “Why not?” was presumably the spirit the record was made in.
A.S.: And as a result, It’s Fun To Steal is one weird album.
L.K.: Weird and wonderful! Who sings this? Robin Goldwasser?
A.S.: Yep.
L.K.: I always get Sister Puff and Lady Puff confused…
A.S.: I do too, and I’m not sure which one Goldwasser is, but that’s her singing.
L.K.: You know, for a “tribute to New York City”, this is one helluva weird tribute.
A.S.: Well, NYC was the epicenter of U.S. disco.
L.K.: NYC… it’s like Extra Krispy! You can never go back! Is it like KFC or what?
A.S.: And that’s one contention I have with this song; I disagree with the chorus.
L.K.: KFC=NYC. What “Extra Krispy” refers to exactly is up for debate… I always wanted to know if there was a reason why it was Krispy with a K, if there was some sort of trademark infringement involved otherwise.
A.S.: I believe I have “gotten down” to some extent in NYC before (I’ve seen plenty of live music there, so I assume that’s an equivalent to “getting down” in one regard or whatever) and I’ve wound up home, elsewhere, every single time. And I prefer a lighter krisp to “extra krispy,” mostly because I feel far less disgusting after eating it.
L.K.: Well see, maybe you don’t want to get down in New York City, but Mr. Flansburgh here seems to think no other city in the world can compare. Serious stuff coming from a man from Boston!
A.S.: I mean, if you’re someone of any importance in NYC, I’m sure it might feel incredible. But it’s just so damn huge.
L.K.: It’s better than being small. Who wants to know everybody in town? I wouldn’t. I hate to change subjects all of a sudden, but can we just talk about all the inexplicable French gibberish in the middle and outro of this song? Is the song actually about somebody from France coming to New York and never wanting to leave, or am I reading too much into that? Maybe it’s somebody pretending to be from France. Or some other Francophone country.
A.S.: Let me actually take a look at the lyrics for the first time. Oh, look at that, the song’s about sex.
L.K.: That incredibly rare occurence in TMBG land.
A.S.: So it’s that kind of “getting down.”
L.K.: Haha, wait, you thought it was about something else? What other type of getting down does one do?
A.S.: Grooving!  Dancing!  Disco! But again, disco has always had a history of being sexually driven. Well, don’t I just feel naïve.
L.K.: I mean, it just always sounded  sort of dirty to me, without actually knowing what the song was about. Well, and without the song itself actually being “dirty.”
A.S.: I just never suspected anything would be that direct, because in TMBG-land, it usually isn’t.
L.K.: “S-E-X-X-Y”… “gettin’ it on.” It usually isn’t, but Flans seems willing to make sexy disco exceptions to the rule.
A.S.: Mental note made. But going back to the random French stuff thrown in, I mean, French is typically regarded as the “sexiest” language, so that makes sense.
L.K.: Yeah, but I can’t understand a word of French, outside of that line in Lady Marmalade. What does any of the stuff in this song mean, speaking of French sexiness?
A.S.: Using freetranslation.com (a good source for unintentional humor), it just seems to be about travel stuff, and self-referential things, like that the song is ending. “Du bu d’or” translates to “Wood of now”(????)
L.K.: What the… Do I even want to know what that means?
A.S.: Maybe it’s like that awesome Monochrome Set song that just consists entirely of unrelated French phrases.
L.K.: Possibly. Somehow I get the feeling Flans doesn’t know much French. Maybe Robin or somebody else in Mono Puff does? Oh, and then there’s the weird thing with all the name dropping at the end, that’s, uh, also weird. Plen-T-Pac, Flansy, Ghost Krabb.
A.S.: Yeah, this song… sex and fried food. And here I was just thinking it was about being in New York City.
L.K.: Oh god, what is it with Flans, disco, food, and sex? Why on earth are these things linked in his subconscious? Between this and “S-E-X-X-Y”…
A.S.: I think it’s called “self-indulgence.”
L.K.: Fried chicken is even less sexy than cookies, though I guess both are really bad for you, so self-indulgences indeed, I guess.
A.S.: Oh, and before we wrap things up, we should say that TMBG will appear on Conan tonight!  11 p.m. EST, TBS. And the next leg of the Join Us tour kicks off tomorrow, so things are kicking back into gear for the Johns.
L.K.: Yep! Bunch of the shows have already sold out though, so if you are on the fence about getting tickets or not, BUY THEM SOONER RATHER THAN LATER. After this leg of the tour wraps up, it’ll probably be a while before they hit the road again, so don’t miss out (especially if you live near one of the places where they will be playing LINCOLN SHOWS).
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Comments
2 Responses to “#21 – “Extra Krispy” (Mono Puff; 1998)”
  1. Nathan says:

    Robin was Sister Puff. Lady Puff was Kate Flannery, who is (or at least was) on The Office. There was also a Sugar Puff who sang at some concerts, but I don’t remember her real name. Plen-T-Pak, Ghost Krabb, and Heaven were in a group called Double Dong, that opened for Mono Puff (or was it TMBG?) a few times, and apparently had really dirty songs. (I haven’t heard any of them, personally.) You probably already knew all this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    • I can’t speak for L.K. but I was unaware of that! It appears that they existed long enough to at least have a Myspace (although GhostKrabb seems to be the only remaining member, unless the others just changed names)

      http://www.myspace.com/40002929

      (P.S. I wouldn’t advise googling “Double Dong” without the word “band” after it. It seems they definitely aren’t that well known.)

      – A.S.

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