By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Bubba Kadane had not performed in public since the last time he played with Bedhead, the last time Bedhead ever played, on May 20, 1998, at a radio performance for VPRO, Holland's national radio based out of Amsterdam. He had not appeared on any recording since the October 1998 release of the "Lepidoptera/Leper" single, which also happened to be the last record to bear the Trance Syndicate logo. That label, run by Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey, went out of business at the same time Bedhead did.
But, in the span of 10 days, Kadane did both again, thanks to some old friends from Wichita Falls, Josh and Misch McKay. On April 15, he took the stage with the McKays and their band, Macha, at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios. And on April 25, Macha Loved Bedhead/Bedhead Loved Macha was released on Jetset Records, which, as the name suggests, is a collaboration between Macha and the core of Bedhead, Bubba and his brother Matt. Kadane is pleased with how everything has gone so far, especially his return to live performance.
"We played two songs. The first one was a little bit of a mess, but the second one turned out to be cool, I thought," Kadane says from the Exposition Park office of ACME CD Manufacturing, the business he runs with Leaning House Records' Mark Elliott. "You know, we were 50 percent." He laughs. "I'd like to play more shows. It'd be cool if we could hook some more stuff up, because it was fun. It'd been almost two years since actually having played in front of people. I guess it was like riding a bike. It didn't seem like it was that long, but it really was. I wasn't nervous. I'd be honest about it if I was. I think if it had been a bigger undertaking, it might've wigged me out a little bit more, but my role wasn't so critical, I guess. It was no big deal."
On first listen, you might assume Kadane's role on Macha Loved Bedhead wasn't so critical either. With Macha's usual assortment of instruments from around the globe (Javanese zither, marimba, Thai xylophone, among others), the disc reflects their peculiar sensibility more than that of the Kadane brothers -- at least on the surface. But listen again, and you can hear Bedhead-style songs drifting through the melodic clatter. The reason why Macha's influence is more obvious is at least partly a matter of logistics. Since Bubba lives in Dallas, Matt in Boston, and the members of Macha in Athens, they traded tapes back and forth and added their own parts. The songs were finished in a rush, mostly by the members of Macha. In fact, Kadane didn't even hear most of the songs on the album until it was already finished.
"I heard a little bit, a couple of snippets, of one song over the phone, and then I heard one of the songs in its finished form the day before [the album] was finished. So not really," he says, laughing. "They were mastering it the day I listened to it. But I like the way it turned out. At first I had a few reservations about some things that I would have done differently, but in the end, I like it. I really enjoyed it. I think it's definitely a little bit more of them in terms of the overall sound, but the whole foundation for what they did, though, is pretty different. It's a pretty good combo."
Another pretty good combo is the Kadane brothers, and Bubba says they're planning to record again in the summer, after Matt finishes his studies at Brown University. But this is the last time they'll record under the name Bedhead. And strangely, on such a momentous occasion, the song that sticks out on Macha Loved Bedhead is...a Cher cover. Yes, that's right: With accompaniment by Josh McKay on a telephone keypad, Matt Kadane sings Cher's chart-topping smash "Believe." Surprisingly, the song turns out to be pretty good, at least when it's done the right way.
"They wanted to do something else other than the four songs, and they came up with that idea," Kadane says. "I was kinda against it. I told Josh, 'I'm not into ironic covers at all.' And he said, 'I understand that, but this isn't going to be like that.' Matt was going to sing it, and when he got the lyrics of the song and everything, he flat-out refused to do it. They were talking on the phone, and Josh suggested that they change all the lyrics to the past tense. And that made it work. When I first heard it, I couldn't believe it. But I don't know, I think it turned out cool. I think it comes across as really sort of honest and direct, rather than tongue-in-cheek."