There are some in creative enterprises who want the whole fame and riches thing. And then there are those who’re content just to eke out a living doing what they love.
Add slop-punk band Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes to that latter category. After all, with a name like that, you can’t really expect to ever headline Madison Square Garden.
“People are either really drawn in by the name or kind of like, 'Oh, I don’t know about that’,” says Abby, who plays bass in the trio. They derived their moniker from video game characters they created. Something funny was the prevailing characteristic they sought.
“Another common reaction is, 'I thought you guys were going to be a lot stupider’,” adds Davey, their guitarist.
Along with drummer Ayesha (they don’t bother with last names), the three share a margarita pizza one recent evening at Bazbeaux on Mass Ave. Their punk-rock quintessence is evident through carnival-colored hair and thrift-store garb. It’s a fitting match to the band’s sound — alternatively disheveled noise and demented, primal busking. They often set up a xylophone on stage for anyone to come up and beat the hell out of while they play. While not used live, Mr. Clit have incorporated Moog into some of their recorded material to give it a Ray Bradbury-like circus quality. Their preference would be to use a megaphone in place of a mic, but it’s tough to hold the button down while you’re playing an instrument.
“We need an assistant to just be up there holding it up to our mouths,” says Ayesha.
Davey’s sort of the unofficial ringleader of Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes. He’s played in a slew of bands since high school. Only one — Ham Charlie — was ever really stable enough to worth mentioning. Their claim to fame was taking a recorder to Greenwood Park Mall once to give an impromptu performance with the pianist at Von Maur and getting paid in Thickburgers to play at a Hardee’s.
Few friends have wanted to make the commitment a touring band requires. Stuff like marriage and children and jobs keep getting in the way.
“I’ve stayed as this loser who doesn’t have anything going on, so I can keep doing this,” says Davey.
He found two willing accomplices in Abby and Ayesha, whom Davey knew from their time at Franklin Community High School. Neither of them knew how to play their instruments before helping to form Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes though.
“It’s better to be in a band with friends than with strangers that are talented,” says Ayesha of their mindset.
Says Abby, “We all just want to have fun doing it. That’s what it’s all about. We’re already together all the time.”
That’s very true. Since 2006 they’ve lived in a commune of sorts — sleeping in the living room of Ayesha’s parents’ house in Franklin. Lots of acquaintances and touring bands intermittently crash there too. They also share a paper route.
And they tour as much as possible. Until Abby graduates from college in the spring, it’s mainly been in the summer and over winter break. But Mr. Clit have still managed to tour coast-to-coast in their two years together. They’ve even returned home with money. Sleeping in their Nissan Versa or on friends’ couches helps with that. Also having no qualms about where they perform and with whom.
“We’ll play with anybody,” says Davey. So far that’s included acts from a variety of genres, unusual locales like a backyard barbecue in San Diego and odd settings like open-mic nights.
“It’s better than sitting at home,” says Ayesha.
It’s all been pretty do-it-yourself. Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes have self-recorded and released two albums, though they may be working with an outside producer on the next one. Davey has booked all their tours.
There aren’t really any audacious goals in mind for the band. For now the benchmark is being able to tour without going bankrupt.
“We want to play, but we’re not really expecting anything,” says Abby.
Being Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes seems more like an adventure to its inhabitants than a serious venture. That time they were desperately trying to get home for Christmas after playing out west — when they got stuck in a blizzard in New Mexico and hit a deer in Texas — is viewed as awesome rather than a nightmare. The word “nonsense” gets bandied about a lot towards the end of dinner.
“I’m pretty sure that’s all our band is,” says Abby.
Davey sums up Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes as, “We put nonsense out there, and if people listen to it, ha, the joke’s on them.”