BY MAT WEIR
Writing a record is hard. Some only dream of it. Others are able to finish the task just to never repeat it because of the complete physical, emotional and financial drain. Many never finish the task, endlessly editing to “get it right” or they get distracted by the trappings of real life: job, family, and not having every waking moment dedicated to something people might not even like. If it’s a collaborative effort, often the band breaks up during the recording process due to stress and clashing egos.
So when Santa Cruz musician, Jesse Kenneth Cotu Williams, decided to release three completely different albums, representing three separate projects, in one month, the first question was, “Are you actually insane?”
“Oh, it was horrible. It was such a bad idea,” Williams admits. “During the end of it I was learning bass for another band and my brain had turned to mush.”
That being said, he adds with a wry smile, “I recommend it, everybody should experience that.”
On April 22, Williams released his second solo EP, Try Again–the follow-up sequel to 2020’s, I Tried–along with a six track electronic EP, Olive Oil EP, named after his famous, polydactyl cat. At the beginning of the month, on April 3, 2022–Wrestlemania Sunday– his other project, The Randy Savages, released their fourth EP, nWo Wolfpac.
All three of the new EPs were recorded, mixed or produced by Olav Tabatabai at Noise Eater Recordings. However, they were all written at various times. For instance, Try Again, is three years in the making thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. But even in the midst of a pandemic, Williams always finds a silver-lining.
“I think the pandemic helped me fine-tune the tracks,” Williams admits. “Cause I was just sitting in my room a lot, doing almost nothing by day since I was working nights.”
All that time produced an EP themed around hope, introspection, and the importance of friendship. To drive the point home, it features several of Williams’ friends like Chris Fox (Boss’ Daughter/Vampirates/The Randy Savages), Sam Hogan (Thanks, I Hate It), olav Tabatabai (Give You Nothing), Chris Jӧnsson and Brian Gibeault (both in Thanks Buddy). In contrast to his 2020 debut–which featured one original track and four covers, Try Again features all originals. While it’s held together with acoustic guitars, Williams explores a range of sounds like the countrified “Hopeful Romantic,” leading into the casio keyboard inspired track, “Jamie’s Song.” The title track is a crescendoing piece about integrity and tenacity, with an unforgettable breakdown where he lays out the important things in life, “I’ve got my friends, my family, my cat and a studio/what else do I really need except maybe some food and a bed?”
If the semi-acoustic Try Again is on one side of the musical field, the Olive Oil EP, is on the complete opposite.
Begun in 2015, it was born out of a collaboration with friend, Jordan Fickel, aka local DJ, Bear Hugs.
“We gave ourselves little homework projects,” Williams recalls about the collab. “‘We couldn’t do the same thing twice.’”
The result is an ethereal dance through light and dark with heavy moments of grandeur, like with the opening track, “Darth Travator,” broken apart with uplifting beats like on “Marchy Song.” “Gus Mo Sasster,” samples sounds from the original Jurassic Park film, and “Droney Boy,” a six minute track that samples noises from a CPAP machine that whirs under a spoken word diatribal monologue against stagnation and complacency. But just when it’s at its darkest, “Who’s A Pretty Kitty” ends the EP with samples of cat meows, a catchy beat drop and lyrics you can’t help but smile to like “Who’s a pretty kitty/You’re a pretty kitty/pet the kitty/Pet the kitty/Meow Meow Meow.”
The EP is named after Williams’ cat who has her own status as an international cult celebrity thanks to the literal thousands of buttons and stickers Williams has made. Over the years he’s toured with multiple bands across half a dozen countries passing out the buttons and stickers. He even created a couple of social media hashtags in her honor (#oliveoilthecat & #polydactylolive).
“I’m releasing all my solo stuff for free,” he says. “But on Bandcamp you can still buy music even if it’s free. Any money made will go to Olive Oil’s vet bills.”
So going back to our analogy, if Try Again and Olive Oil EP are opposite sides of a field, nWo Wolfpac is the flying saucer of steroid-fueled aliens landing in it, ready to suplex anyone who gets in their way.
Not a band, The Randy Savages are a self-proclaimed, “punk rock wrestling accompaniment collective,” with an often rotating cast of musicians that blend punk and wrestling theater for a show that centers around the band each acting out as their own version of legendary wrestler, “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Their live show combines music, theater and a lot of improv for an experience that turns fans out of newcomers and leaves the stands screaming for more.
nWoWolfpac is a four song EP (featuring graphics by local artist, Claire McKinney) loosely based around the late 1990’s nWo (aka New World Order) plotline introduced into the professional wrestling company, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) later bought by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), since renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Just like their previous releases, it’s a hard-hitting EP that proves the cream of the crop rises to the top. Only this time, The Randy Savages switch it up with not one, but two songs featuring hip hop: “I’m Back” and the title track “Wolfpac.” Both are covers, the first by the Macho Man himself off his 2003 rap album, Be A Man, and the second a cover from the late 90’s of the nWo Wolfpac theme by C-Murder with the Savages’ version featuring friend and hip hop artist, Aaron Kremen.
“He’s a friend of [The Randy Savages’ guitar player] Nicky Savage since their Fort Bragg days,” Williams says. “He’s an all-around great guy and we wanted to collaborate with him before on a couple opportunities that didn’t work out.”
Things become just like the Silver Cloud Rolls Royce–that is to say, top of the line–with tracks “ITTHAMFITM” (It’s Time To Hit a MotherFucker In the Mouth) and “Turnbuckle Party,” both about the no-holds barred intensity of the professional wrestling ring. It’s a subject The Randy Savages not only sing about, but know the ins and outs of as well.
“Nicky is a wrestler by trade, he actually drops elbows in the ring,” states Williams. “‘ITTHAMFITM’ is about a dream he had during the pandemic when he couldn’t wrestle.”
Oh yeah! Dig it! Now’s the time to realize just how much of a lucky, lucky, lucky person you are to be living in a time of new music by The Randy Savages along with two brand new EPs by Jesse Kenneth Cotu Williams. Don’t waste your life by not listening on Spotify or Bandcamp.com. All other music is just grains of sand while these three releases are the entire Sahara desert!
It’s hard not to go full-fledged Macho Man when talking about all this exciting new music. Click on the links below to find out just what we mean and make sure to check out The Randy Savages at the Blue Lagoon on Friday, June 3rd when they play with Super Madness, the heavy metal band that covers video game theme songs from classic systems like NES, SNES and Sega Genesis.