As one of Orange County's most outrageous bands, the Hags have been called many names, and will no doubt continue to be. But it's a safe bet that "conventional" will never be one of the words used to describe this group.
With "Project 1986," the quintet's newly released debut LP, the controversial band aims to reach a wider audience with its offbeat but elaborately thought-out philosophy that espouses, among other things, celibacy.
"People defile sex when they use it for their own enjoyment," said lead singer Mark Dead during an interview this week at "The Inferno," the band's nickname for its Santa Ana rehearsal studio headquarters. Dead was joined by bassist Mattrick Ferry, guitarists Boris Comfort and Mike Embalmed and drummer Corald James Gash, all of whom will appear Sunday at Safari Sam's in Huntington Beach.
"For anything besides procreation, sex is just something people use to manipulate each other," Dead said while chain smoking cigarettes. "Their lives revolve around status symbols and material gains aimed at making them more sexually attractive, like the Porsche 924 or the big house, so they can keep their pretty wife and she won't leave them.
"It's an obsession with a primal energy; it's energy regression, which doesn't promote spiritual happiness," Dead said. "Our songs uncover sex for what it really is and drugs for what they really are."
For such high-minded thoughts, the Hags might shock those unfamiliar with the way their philosophy is expressed in song. Many of the lyrics on "Project 1986" graphically outline the ways the band members believe that sex is abused in modern society.
"If we just came out and said 'people should be celibate' it wouldn't do much," Dead said. "That's why we use porno film terminology."
In the past, Dead proclaimed that the Hags had nothing positive to offer its audience. But now he says the group wants to leave their listeners not only feeling better, but "spiritually evolved."
The group has developed a theory, rooted in "basic physics" they said, which holds that in order to create a "positive sine-wave energy flow" for their audiences, they must use their music to create "an energy disturbance."
"By creating the ultimate energy disturbance, people near us will benefit from the increased sine-wave energy. So we use intense lighting and music and negative lyrics to set up the LFO (low-frequency oscillation) force."
Dead said the LFO force "encompasses all the negative human emotions and feelings."
"We really believe this," Dead insisted. "It's strange, but people do say they leave our shows feeling better."
Added Ferry: "It's a form of release. People can release at our shows."
Last week, Dead and Ferry made their second appearance on Wally George's "Hot Seat" program (they were thrown off the show after their first interview in 1984). After explaining their elaborate philosophy to the flamboyant George and his viewers, Dead said, "Wally said I was insane."
Said Wally George: "I think they are the scum of the earth. They came on and advocated on my show that every kid should have one good acid trip to open their minds. I think their brains were fried by too much acid."
Referring to Mark Dead, George said, "He is a complete idiot. I think he's a mental case."
Asked where the Hags derived their philosophy, Dead attributed it to his past use of LSD, the one exception Dead makes to his own tenet that "all drugs are just simulated happiness."
Although the Hags' concerts remain wildly theatrical--but largely spontaneous and unrehearsed events--the band members talk proudly of their improved instrumental proficiency and performance delivery in recent months.
The group embarks on a series of performances outside Southern California beginning with shows later this month in San Francisco. They return to Orange County for a concert Aug. 30 at Night Moves in Huntington Beach with El Grupo Sexo, and then plan to take their act to Arizona and Nevada.
Despite all the metaphysical overtones, guitarist Mike Embalmed said: "Our show is very entertaining, and it's never boring. And people do come back."
CONCERTS AT THE KONO: Missing Persons and the San Francisco trio Until December (not to be confused with 'til Tuesday) packed Kono Hawaii in Santa Ana on Wednesday in the first concert of a new series for which the former operators of the Golden Bear are renting the Hawaiian-themed restaurant-showroom.
Wednesday night's show was standing room only in the 480-seat club, which is significantly larger than the historic Golden Bear. The Huntington Beach club was demolished in July as part of the city's downtown redevelopment project.
Nearly twice as wide as it is deep, Kono Hawaii's showroom shapes up as a good concert venue, although sight lines to the stage and sound quality diminish toward the far edges of the club.
Until December, a popular Bay Area dance club act even though its guitar-bass-drums configuration excludes synthesizers, received only a lukewarm reception.