There was this one week around 1994 where this Arizona-based duo called DOO RAG swept into my town and pretty much owned it each & every night. Having heard their awesome debut 45, “Swampwater Mop Down / Engine Bread” on Drunken Fish, I made a date to see one of their shows – and proceeded to see them twice more that week, & interviewed them for the cover of my fanzine as well. DOO RAG mania was on. People were just dumbfounded when they saw these two fellas set up their contraptions on the floor of each club: a drummer (“Thermos”) who smacked cardboard boxes and tubs to keep the beat, and a guitarist (“Bob Log”) who played and sang out of this bizarre tuba/vaccum cleaner-like kit hooked up to pedals and mics and whatnot. I can barely remember, I was so young then.
I do know that ’94 was a good year for this band – their first three singles were all great; a furious, ultra-distorted 1920s delta blues stitched together with duct tape and baling wire, with vocals so loud and echo-laden they could’ve been in Urdu. They even put out a couple of cassettes long before there was an LP, and those made the rounds to lots of hosannas and praise. I think what we all liked about these two guys was their willingness to set up their gear anytime, anywhere – in bus shelters, on street corners, and in dark clubs filled with San Francisco hipsters. Their sound reflected that sort of bootstrapping, and they were a blast live. After a couple of years, they began to strike me more as a novelty than as a band I wanted to spend a lot of time with, and I tuned out. I believe they broke up around 1998, because I started seeing Bob Log play solo around that time, popping up on bills like at Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival, where we showed up to see HASIL ADKINS and BOB LOG III was playing instead (the Haze was sick – I never did get to see him). I spun this debut 45 again the other day, and remembered again why Doo Rag Week ’94 was so much fun. If anyone knows where Thermos is these days, please let us know.
Play or Download DOO RAG – “Swampwater Mop Down” (A-side)
Play or Download DOO RAG – “Engine Bread” (B-side)