Danger Will Robinson: Oceans of Mars Leaves Safety Behind
In a world full of themed bands, Warning Danger was one of the oddest. While punk is a genre built on moral and physical danger, the Seattle band was more interested in safety. Songs covered best safety practices for everything from cougar attacks, to fire ants, to truck stop toilet paper. But lead songwriter Eric Bruckbauer found that his muse occasionally left safety behind. For those songs, he started Oceans of Mars, which will play at Johnny B’s in Medford on Friday, June 23.
Bruckbauer took the time to answer a few questions for The Messenger to preview the show.
RVM: Why did you choose to switch up the lyrical themes from Warning Danger, but stick to the sound?
EB: The sound is similar because I am the common thread in both bands. The songs I write just tend to sound a certain way. Warning: Danger! songs are generally about safety-themed issues, such as how to have sex safely and how to avoid dangers like killer bees and Godzilla. But since not all the songs I write fit neatly into Warning: Danger!’s safety theme, other songs usually end up as Oceans of Mars songs. Key differences are that I sing lead vocals in Oceans of Mars and backing vocals in Warning: Danger!
RVM: In this laptop ruled era, do you feel that guitar rock like yours is in decline, or having a renaissance as it returns to the underground? Why or why not?
EB: I keep thinking that guitar rock will make a resurgence to the top at some point, but it doesn’t seem to be happening just yet. Punk rock has always been kind of an underground thing for the most part, with the notable exception of Seattle grunge in the ‘90s, so maybe it’s just back where it belongs. So for now it just means that it’s all ours—we don’t have to share it with “pop culture”—because when things become mainstream, they get co-opted, watered down, and ultimately destroyed. Besides, what could be more “punk rock” than being an outsider?
RVM: You’ve described your music as goofy. Do you think that means people don’t take you seriously as musicians? Does that matter?
EB: People take a band seriously when they enjoy the music and have a good time at the show. Being taken seriously as a musician is something only musicians really seem to think about. But musicians are a small percentage of the population, and I’m more interested in everyone else. So I guess I just don’t spend too much time worrying about this. If you want to see drunk dudes in ridiculous costumes playing loud, fast, crazy songs and making fools of themselves for your entertainment, we can help. If you want to have your mind blown by impossibly complex time signatures and song structures, we’re probably not the band for you—but I don’t think that’s why most people go to shows. If people look past the humor, they’ll see that we play solid songs and at least half know what we’re doing. But that’s not even what I hope people take away from our shows. I’d rather they left saying ‘Holy shit! I had a blast!’ We are capable of writing more complicated, serious songs, and all of us have been in bands like that. But most concertgoers aren’t looking for that, so what’s the point of showing an empty room how “seriously” you should be taken as a musician? With this band, we consciously decided to play only kick ass, fun, entertaining songs that aren’t any more complicated than they need to be, because we think a good band should be a party catalyst, not a self-gratifying ego boost for the musicians.
RVM: You’ve played Southern Oregon several times before. Any thoughts or expectations?
EB: We’ve had some of our craziest shows in Medford. A lot of it is just timing—are there other events going on, is school in session, etc. Every now and then, your show gets on the radar somehow and every bored kid in the region shows up and goes crazy.
Oceans of Mars, with Phake and Jackson’s Oddity
9 pm, Fri., June 23
Johnny B’s, 120 E. Sixth St., Medford