What do you get when you cross one of the most important rock bands of the last 50 years with an former child star? A mess, as it happens.
Who are these young turks?
The Pizza Underground
And what’s their story?
They’re a Velvet Underground covers band that changes classic lyrics to make every.single.goddamn.song about pizza.
Hmmm. That sounds like it might have a limited appeal.
It sounds like the worst conceived ad campaign for Pizza Express/ Pizza Hut/ any-pizza-restaurant-at-all, in history.
Why is this even a thing then?
Because local music communities the world over are awash with silly musical projects, formed by irony-enthusiasts, who don’t care that their final product will be entirely disposable after the first listen. They’re usually easy enough to ignore. (The only previous exception to this rule is, of course, awesome gay Black Flag cover band, Black Fag.)
Why are The Pizza Underground getting so much attention then?
The sole reason this New York City troupe is getting a ton of press and selling out shows is because Macaulay Culkin does backing vocals and plays maraca and kazoo (fucking KAZOO!) in the band.
Wait. I was born after 1994. Who the hell is Macaulay Culkin?
You know what? If you’ve lived this long without stumbling across him (or one particularly famous promotional picture of him slapping his own face, mouth agape), just skip to the next story and pretend this never happened. Seriously. It’s for your own good.
Why are you telling us all this?
We’re trying to ease you in gently. Because The Pizza Underground are going to be playing all over the U.K. between Wednesday, May 21 and Saturday, June 7 and if the American response to the band’s recent dates is anything to go by, you’re about to be hearing a lot more about this lot.
So, what did the Americans think?
The Dallas Observer said: “Photography wasn’t allowed, so let me try to paint the scene for you. Five people musicians, wearing black sunglasses, stood behind mics and sang songs about pizza… The guy in front of me leaned over to his friend and said, “They’re so fucking high.“”
WSOE 89.3 FM said: “You may be asking yourself, ‘Are they serious?’ or ‘Are they in on the joke?’ Truth be told, a night spent with the Pizza Underground leaves me unsure… The crowd was entertained and I think that’s what they wanted. They introduced every song with ‘Here’s a song about pizza’, but in my eyes the gimmick never got old.”
SF Weekly said: “The performance sounded terrible, and not in a purposeful, shambolic sort of way, but a ‘We don’t really know what the fuck we’re doing and don’t really care’ sort of way. It was all grating electric guitar, shaky, out-of-tune vocals, and flimsy percussion. But playing songs well was, of course, not the point. The point was pizza jokes and Macaulay Culkin.”
So should I go and see The Pizza Underground live?
Not unless you have a surreal sense of humour, a love for all things Culkin, and a high tolerance for sloppy musicianship. Good luck!
The Pizza Underground’s homemade demo tape, recorded in Macaulay Culkin’s house on November 11, 2013, is available as a pay-what-you-want download from the band’s bandcamp page.