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Starting an ordinary cover band was never something that appealed to the Yeastie Boys. So instead of standing onstage like a bunch of wannabe bozos singing other people’s songs, they decided to becomes actual Bozos singing other people’s songs. For this six-pack of Costa Mesa punks, that meant slathering on clown makeup, putting on rainbow wigs and parodying some of the best punk tunes ever fathomed. The end result is a stage show that is part circus, part circle pit. Though they’ve only been doing this for about two years, their pie-throwing, chord-chugging performances border on legendary. Members Dirt Clown, Pat Clown, John O’Clownavin, Vinny da Clown, Ronald McDogface, Jeremy the Brown Clown and Jenny Clown have been in various local punk acts such as Midlife Chrysler, Super Kill and the Eyesores; O’Clownavin is an original member of the Adolescents.
OC Weekly: Do people tend to like you more as a band because of the clown makeup?
Pat Clown: People are all over you. Then, as soon as you take everything off, they’re like, “Who’s that guy?”
John O’Clownavin: My wife says she actually likes me better with the makeup on.
Are there any costumed punk bands you grew up on who inspire what you do?
Dirt the Clown: Basically, it’s all about the punk we grew up on—Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Clash, Adolescents, Fear, Circle Jerks and all that. We all played in other bands, and [Pat Clown] and I wanted to do a cover [band]. But we didn’t wanna do it as ourselves. So we said ,“What the fuck; let’s just do clowns.” People have been calling me a clown my whole life, so it’s not much of a stretch, right? We did it once as a joke, and it kinda took off. We started writing clown lyrics, so now it’s all the old punk classics with clown lyrics.
Ronald McDogface: [Before Jenny Clown and I joined the Yeastie Boys], we saw the band and didn’t know what to make of it. It was the early stages of the costume, where it was just a wig and a rubber nose. The first thing to go was the rubber noses—you can’t sing punk rock into a microphone and have shit thrown at you and keep a rubber nose on.
So the makeup slowly evolved?
Vinny da Clown: It just got bigger and better. Now it’s like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey punk-rock circus.
Can you improve any song by adding clown lyrics?
Ronald McDogface: Sometimes, the songs are already halfway there. For example, a band such as the Dickies are a funny band. So they’re already halfway to being clowns as it is.
What is one of the funniest things ever thrown at you onstage?
Jenny the Clown: We’ve seen wrenches; we’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff.
Ronald McDogface: Matchbox cars and porno DVDs.
Dirt the Clown: We’ve been pied in the face. I’ve gotten cake thrown at my guitar; I still have some on there. Whipped cream, silly string, Jell-O—you name it.
Jeremy the Brown Clown: The biggest thing ever hurled off a clown stage has been myself.
Dirt the Clown: [Jeremy] rode a bike offstage and took some kid out.
What’s the best part of keeping this act alive?
Pat Clown: Just having fun with it and making people laugh.
Dirt the Clown: We’ve been doing this for more than two years and haven’t played the same set twice. We have about 50 songs, and we’re always rotating the set list.
The Yeastie Boys perform with Desperation Squad, Plan 9 From Anaheim and the Eye Sores at the First Annual All-Star Clown Jam at the Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim, (714) 533-1286; www.myspace.com/dollhutbandbooking. Sat., 9 p.m. $5. 21+.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column appeared in print as "A Clown Posse? Insane!"