If you own Big MF Stick’s first album, Discombobulator
, or the Ate Up
compilation, you understand the power of “Parasite,” an instant classic. How could it not be with the lyric “lookin for lovin’, but all I got was the crabs”?
In the mid to late ’90s bands, like Big MF, the Birdmen of Alcatraz, $ucka and X-Up played a style of music that wasn’t just rock, nor was it just hip-hop or funk. The style became known as “rip hop,” an alternative to the alternative. Jazzy grooves and lyrical flows would give way to distortion and screams. It was a revolution of sorts, and it was the first time some people really started to pay attention to what was going on in the local music scene.
Big MF Stick was conventional in the sense of having a drummer, bassist and guitar player, but with three singers, the band stood out. Johann, one of the vocalists and the guy usually seen sporting a Pacers’ jersey on stage, chatted over a couple glasses of Blue Moon about how the band came together and how it eventually came apart.
“It would seem like there would have been more personality clashes with six people in the band,” Johann says. “But we all liked hip-hop, and we all liked metal so it just came together.”
The band may have clicked, but club owners weren’t as excited. “Having three singers was a nightmare for the sound guy,” Johann laughs. In the band’s prime, the other two vocalists were known as Papa G and Evergreen the Eye.
Big MF Stick’s second album, 1997’s Attack of the Peanut Butter and Jelly People
, was released to a beyond-capacity Emerson Theater crowd. “That might have been the biggest crowd we played to,” Johann says.
After completing a few semi-successful tours, the band was road-weary, but the excitement of homecoming shows were enough to push them back into the studio for what would have been the third album, A Horse Named Future Glue
. Unfortunately, only three songs were recorded, and that was basically it for Big MF Stick.
“We were just bored and the songs weren’t coming as easy as they used to,” Johann says.
Because they just stopped playing, fans outside the loop were left wondering what happened. In late 2002, the band played two more shows, a warm-up gig at Birdy’s Bar & Grill and its final performance at the Vogue.
Rising from the ashes, Johann, drummer A-dub and vocalist Papa G recorded an album and played shows under the name Mad Poets Society, a straight-up hip-hop band with live drums and programmed synth. The last show was part of the 2004 Midwest Music Summit.
Big MF may be gone but it’s not forgotten. “Man, there’s always someone coming up and saying, ‘Weren’t you in that band?’ I’m happy that we did something, ya know, left our mark,” Johann says. “Everything about that whole band was just an accident that worked.”