Madison’s Bucky Pope collaborates with Mike Watt on two new tracks

The recordings will be available as a 7-inch released for Record Store Day Black Friday.

The recordings will be available as a 7-inch released for Record Store Day Black Friday.

Record Store Day’s son that isn’t Cassette Store Day, RSD Black Friday, will bring with it a limited-edition new release that features Madison musician Bucky Pope, currently the leader of Negative Example. Pope, who played guitar and sang in Madison punk band Tar Babies in the ’80s and ’90s, struck up a one-off collaboration with one of that band’s former SST labelmates, Minutemen bassist Mike Watt.

“[Late Minutemen guitarist/vocalist] D. Boon left watermelon-size rings in my bathtub in 1985 and I’ve put Mike Watt up several times when he’s played here,” Pope says of his history with Minutemen and Watt. “Tar Babies played a lot of shows with fIREHOSE as well.”

Trading emails earlier this year, the two decided to record together at Watt’s studio in San Pedro, California, along with drummer John Herndon of Tortoise and two longtime Watt collaborators, flute/sax player Vince Meghrouni and keyboard player Pete Mazich. Calling themselves Tone Scientists, they recorded one of Pope’s original songs, “Nuts,” and a Sun Ra tune called “Tiny Pyramids.” ORG Music is issuing 1,000 copies of the resulting 7-inch single for Black Friday, which falls on November 23 this year.

Audio isn’t available online yet, but the release does capture some interesting contributions from all involved. “Nuts,” the A-side, is very much in the vein of what Pope’s been doing with Negative Example: Disjointed, funk-influenced rock with Pope’s trebly guitar work and ill-tempered vocals in the foreground. But Watt’s tense, surging bass and Meghrouni’s flute put it all in a whole new context. The song’s middle and intro feature some springy back and forth between flute and guitar, with Pope and Meghrouni occasionally doubling up together on a melody.

The group’s rendition of “Tiny Pyramids” stays faithful to the slinky groove of Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra’s 1960 recording. Meghrouni’s multi-layered flute and sax arrangements are the main attraction here, but Mazich turns in some solid jazz piano work here and Pope’s guitar occasionally wriggles its way to the front of the mix.

As on Record Store Day proper, there’s no guarantee as to which stores will get which specific RSD Black Friday one-offs and reissues, but with any luck this release will show up at at least one of Madison’s participating stores. In the meantime, Negative Example will be playing November 17 at Art In, and Pope plans to re-record a different version of “Nuts” with the band. Pope will also be playing in a tribute to Foreigner this Saturday as part of the High Noon Saloon’s annual Halloween tribute-band blowout. He says Tone Scientists might try to get together again next year and make an EP.

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