Mucca Pazza: 'A Crazed, Circus-Like, Joyful Experience' | WGLT

Mucca Pazza: 'A Crazed, Circus-Like, Joyful Experience'

Jan 23, 2017

Mucca Pazza at NPR during their "Tiny Desk Concert" appearance in 2015.
Credit Colin Marshall

Mucca Pazza ("Crazy Cow") founding member Rick Kubes said the forming of the 30-odd member marching band was organic.  He gives kudos to fellow founder Mark Messing, the band's original director, choreographer, and music director.

"I'd say about three of us started doing theater with a company called 'Red Moon Theater.'  We were doing anti-war marches and dressing up in marching band costumes.  Between the theater and music and extra-curricular activities we were doing, Mark sort of formulated this mix-matched/marching band/costume idea/circus event," said Kubes.

For awhile, the Chicago based band used "The Hideout" as a Sunday night home base.  Kubes remembers nobody at the time having any idea how the group would evolve, as many were just learning music.

"I'd say the first show we ever did at The Hideout we had twelve, maybe thirteen members at the time," recalled Kubes.  "We were just playing music you wouldn't think would get people on their feet.  I think it was contagious with a crazy excitement in the room.  They started moving, we started moving.  By the end of the year we had 20 members, and at the end of two years we were up to 30."

Kubes believes the creative clashing of theater and music proved to be the magic elixir for Mucca Pazza.

"We had straight up jazz musicians who never got off a chair, drummers used to sitting behind a kit.  Then we got theater directors.  Myself, I'm an actor, I did some percussion dance drumming when I got out of college, so I had a little music in me.  That's where we scored, we brought in so many different artists and focused on this one thing.  It offered so much because we had such a diverse crowd in the group," said Kubes.

You can catch Mucca Pazza performing in traditional venues, but as a marching band, you'll often see them in parades and other outdoor settings.  One of Kubes' fondest memories of performing is when they opened for the progressive funk-metal band Primus for five east-coast shows roughly five years ago.

"Peeking in the door and looking at the 5000-seat crowd of leather jackets and long hair, it was a little more hard-edged crowd than we would be used to.  I don't know what it is, we walk into a door, they see us and they say 'huh, what is this?' And six minutes later you'll see the biggest, angry guy laughing his butt off, shaking his head, and stomping his feet.  I think we break down that traditional idea of what performance is.  Whether it's theater or music or dance, we blend it into such a cacophony of a crazed, 'circusy,' joyful experience, I think it just opens people's hearts." said Kubes.

Mucca Pazza brings their joyful experience to the BCPA in Bloomington, IL Saturday January 28.  Showtime is 7:30 p.m.