Several years ago, NOBUNNY was hoping to travel the country as an animal Elvis impersonator. “I figured I could fill the animal niche since there’s already like a Thai-Elvis and an extreme-Elvis and all that stuff,” he explains.
NOBUNNY--who keeps his true identity secret--found a bunny mask and began practicing the pelvic shake. He started writing his own songs. Eventually, NOBUNNY decided to give up on the impersonator dream and try to make it playing his own stuff. He began busking to no avail. “I never got a single penny tossed my way,” NOBUNNY admits. “People really didn’t seem to like it at all. But I didn’t stop.”
Then, on April 15, 2001, NOBUNNY scored a slot at the Fireside Bowl punk club in Chicago. It was there that NOBUNNY gave his first performance to a sizable crowd on the same day Joey Ramone died.
Seven years later, NOBUNNY put out his first album, Love Visions. It was recorded in his friends’ living rooms, but it sounds like the tracks were laid down inside a tin can under a pile of dirt. The plunky guitar, oftentimes programmed beats and NOBUNNY’s subdued snarls come off as abrasive at first. After a few listens, a punk simplicity and a buried one-four-five chord base hit some kind of sweet spot. It’s a little bit punkabilly and a tiny bit blues, but it’s essentially one big party animal.
NOBUNNY told the Alibi about his fur fetish and shy recording style. He also let us in on how seriously he takes his on-stage persona, all in his never-wavering deadpan delivery.
What attracted you to the bunny mask?
It seems kind of appealing. For the most part, people like bunnies. But the mask is really great because bunnies are generally thought of as cute and cuddly and the mask is ... not so much. It’s kind of creepy.
“Well, I think at the end of the day, people realize that I’m not a rabbit.”
You mentioned your first album was recorded in your friends’ houses. How is your new record coming along?
It’s not going as smooth as I had hoped. I'm recording it in my parents' basement. I have to be completely alone when I record and my mom is almost always home. I’ll record a little when she’s home, but I certainly can’t sing when she’s home, even though she probably can’t hear me. I have to wait for those precious moments when she runs to the grocery store to get anything done.
How can you be shy about having people hear you record but you’re willing to perform live?
The mask is huge. It’s much easier for me to perform wearing a mask. I wouldn’t be comfortable doing what NOBUNNY does without the aid of the bunny mask.
What does NOBUNNY do?
Nothing is every planned, it’s all going in the moment. I would like everyone to get in the spirit and the mood to do whatever they want to do. It’s a chance to just get weird. That’s what I try to do. I can’t see anything with the mask on, so I usually just have my eyes closed, drink a lot of booze beforehand and start spinning around in circles.
How seriously do you take the NOBUNNY persona?
Well, I think at the end of the day, people realize that I’m not a rabbit. So it’s really not a big deal.
Have you ever gone with the full bunny suit?
Yeah, I’ve done that, actually. I’ve had different masks and different costumes. For my birthday, my friend got a full bunny suit. The thing is, it’s really, really hot. I do like it, though. I’m a total “furvert,” if you will.
Your music seems perfectly suited to parties. Do you play a lot of them?
Yeah. Eighty percent of the places we’re playing on this tour are houses. We’re also playing an Urban Outfitters, which is weird. But, yeah, house parties all the way. People get into it more and get sweatier and drunker.
NOBUNNY makes it OK to act weird at the Atomic Cantina Wednesday, Dec. 10. The Foxx makes it OK to start drinking. The show is 21-plus and free.