In August of 2019, infamous avant-garde weirdos Mr. Bungle announced that they would be returning to the stage for the first time in nearly 20 years. Further blowing minds, original members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn said they'd be joined by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo — and that they'd be playing songs from their very first demo, 1986's The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. And so it came to be in February that Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City felt the aforementioned Wrath, which was complemented by a generous helping of cover songs (COC, Circle Jerks, SOD and more) and previously unheard originals.
Now, roughly a month after the reunion shows, Mr. Bungle have given Revolver the exclusive news that they're re-recording The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, along with the aforementioned covers and three previously un-recorded songs from their days as teenage metalheads growing up in Eureka, California. (It remains to be determined which tracks will actually make the final forthcoming new album, which is due via Ipecac Recordings this fall.) "The music from The Raging Wrath, which we wrote when we were 15 and 17 years old, continued to be relevant to us," Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn explains. "But the original demo was never fully realized. It was a DIY four-track tape recording fully self-produced by our naive and wandering minds whilst still learning how to play our instruments and understand songwriting at its most basic level. Not to mention I'm pretty sure we were all virgins at the time — high-strung, bored teenagers with only a limited number of options [for] where to direct our energy in an impoverished, isolated town."
Now, as less high-strung and very busy adults, they've re-enlisted Ian and Lombardo to help bring the material back to life. "Holy crap — the songs sound so great!" Ian says of the recording process. "Every day at the studio is like Christmas morning for me — each song we finish another present. I don't know if I'm more excited about this record as a fan of Mr. Bungle or as a member of Mr. Bungle. Either way, I can't wait for the world to hear it."
Now that you know how they feel about it, check out our in-depth conversation with Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance below.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO RE-RECORD THE RAGING WRATH OF THE EASTER BUNNY?
TREY SPRUANCE I guess there's a couple reasons. The main one is that we started hanging out again and doing music together — Trevor, Mike and I — about 10 years ago. That was obviously way after the band broke up in 2001 or whenever it was. So we've been meeting up and doing stuff for 10 years. We never felt like there was a pressing need to do a Bungle reunion, but we were hearing about it all the time. We knew people wanted us to do it, but we were kinda looking at each other, like, "Should we?" We felt like if it wasn't coming out of us naturally, what the fuck are we doing? Maybe we should be thinking about our legacy more than doing a reunion just to do it. So we didn't do it.
Then Trevor had this spontaneous idea when he was on tour with Lombardo — probably in Fantômas — "Wouldn't it be great if we did our early thrash/death metal stuff with Lombardo?" I think it was an informal thought at first, but then it kind of took root when my band Secret Chiefs 3 was opening up for Dead Cross on tour. That put all of us in the same room — me, Trevor, Mike and Lombardo — and Trevor brought it up again. Like, "We're all standing here with Lombardo. Wouldn't it be amazing if we did this?" About a year later, Lombardo called me and suggested we surprise Patton for his birthday by doing a demo of these tunes.
WAS IT A CHALLENGE TO RE-LEARN THE MATERIAL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?
The problem is that the recording is so bad you can't hear anything at all. Our drummer was good back then, but you can't hear any of the drums. So I made a whole bunch of new demos of the old demos with drum templates. I mapped them to the originals so it feels the same tempo-wise and just put "What would Lombardo do?" drum parts on it. So Lombardo listened to it and then he made his own demo of that. Then Patton and Trevor got wind of it, and everyone was super psyched. But I think Mike didn't want to be the one pushing for it, so I really have to give credit to Lombardo for being like, "Let's do this."
WAIT, YOU WROTE DRUM PARTS FOR DAVE LOMBARDO?
[Laughs] Not really. I wrote drum parts that I thought would be the kind of thing that he would do over those riffs. I mean, I remembered all those riffs and everything. So I gave that to him so he could learn the tunes. On the original, you can't hear if the drums are half time or double time or anything. I've been a lifelong Lombardo fan, so I made all those tempo changes and beats the way that I thought he'd play them, but he didn't stick to that in the recording or even at the live shows. He's an improviser. He gets it. He'll get the vibe of each part and do what he does. So I was just giving him an approximation.
YOU ACTUALLY REMEMBERED THOSE RIFFS FROM 35 YEARS AGO?
Oh, yeah — I remembered all of it. Trevor remembered most of it, too. We were obsessive back then. We would sit in his room and figure out all the nuances of all those riffs and work everything out. I think in 1999 or 2000, we even played one of those songs live — "Sudden Death," the longest one. But I don't know if you'd call that fresh in the memory. It was 20 fucking years ago. [Laughs]
SO YOU WERE WORKING ON A NEW VERSION OF THE DEMO BEFORE THE REUNION SHOWS HAPPENED ...
Yeah, those demos were current in maybe May or June last year. Then Trevor had a couple of songs that he resurrected from back then that we never played. So we got going on that around August, around the time the reunion announcement was made. Then Patton felt strongly that there should be a second guitar, because there's all these solos and crazy shit and it'd be kinda weird if the bottom dropped out of it while I was doing all that. So it was actually his idea to get Scott Ian, and I couldn't even believe that was a possibility. To me, that made the whole thing into the best idea I'd heard in my life. Like, "Are we seriously gonna have Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian — the two most influential people on us in the mid-Eighties as far as drums and guitar — on this?"
OBVIOUSLY, PATTON AND TREVOR HAD WORKED WITH LOMBARDO BEFORE IN FANTÔMAS AND DEAD CROSS. WHAT WAS THE SCOTT IAN CONNECTION?
There were other people that had been talked about, but to me — and this is just my opinion of the whole thing — this is mid-Eighties thrash metal. I don't know that there's a better way to approach it, rather than doing a revisionist thing. So Mike's idea was to go to the source — the guy who inspired us with his right-hand riffing stuff. To me, that was the right way to go. That music is locked into that era, and that consciousness is really important. So Scott Ian, if he were willing to do it, is a no-brainer. He's the best guy in the world for that.
DID SCOTT INDICATE THAT HE WAS A BUNGLE FAN PRIOR TO THIS, OR DID HE JUST LIKE THE IDEA OF PLAYING WITH YOU GUYS?
I'd never met him before, but Mike had talked to him and knew that he was a Mr. Bungle fan. And when Mike called him, Scott said he actually had the original fucking demo tape. Which is saying something. But he didn't really get it at first. He thought Patton was inviting him to a show. He didn't get that we were inviting him to be in the band. [Laughs] After a couple days, he got it and was like, "Are you serious?" He was excited about it, which just blew all of our minds.
WHEN YOU ANNOUNCED THE REUNION SHOWS, DID YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT YOU WERE GOING TO RE-RECORD AND RE-RELEASE THE EASTER BUNNY DEMO?
Everything was kinda up in the air. We knew we were gonna do the shows and resurrect the band for that, but we didn't really have solid plans for the future. In fact, when the idea first came up, we weren't even sure we were gonna call the band Mr. Bungle. We thought we should call it The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. But then, over time, we all realized that when bands do reunion tours and go back to their roots, it usually means playing some blues or something. For us, this is really Mr. Bungle. This is our beginnings. This is the heart and soul of the band.
Even the arrangement philosophy hasn't changed that much. The style and presentation and elaborate orchestration — all of that changed. But if you listen to the logic of the songs, it's all there in that first demo. The way we arrange music is right there in the beginning.
Look out for part two of our exclusive studio report tomorrow, March 24th.