Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb? – Eels

Just like I pressed you recently on the matter of your preferred Ice Berg (Ice Shelf, give it a name) I have further questions. Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb? Can be answered only if you understand the question and have some pretty darned niche pop culture trivia to hand *flexes fingers*

Does anyone even remember Soy Bomb? I have to say I had no idea what-so-ever what Mark Oliver Everett was talking about. Let me clarify or justify that by saying I loathe award shows. Now if you were like me and do not understand the question, I appreciate that clarified nothing. Yet. Stick with it Windows. We’re going tangential niche Rock And Roll Archaeologist on this one.

In 2005 Mark Oliver Everett released his sixth album under his band name Eels. They’d had big hits in the late 90’s and early 21st Century with a sort of scuzzy laid back alternative music that took cues from Grunge and Neil Young and 60’s psych but kept a warped pop sensibility the likes of Beck, dEus and other MTV2 Kooks could really take to heart. I really like this band. I know a lot of you do too. They continue to do great business into the 2020’s. The John Hamm on a sofa video for recent single Are We Alright Again caused some online ruckus when they basically remade the promo for Goodshirt’s Sophie. Performance ART though. Is a FUNNY THING. IDEAS are VARIED and inspiration can come from ANYWHERE*.

Also in 2005 prog rockers Dream Theater released their eight Studio album Octavarium. It featured (as most of their albums did in those days) Mike Portnoy on drums. But that might be a red herring.

Meanwhile, across the space time continuum back on February 25th 1998 Bob Dylan was booked to perform Love Sick at the Grammy’s. Music TV producers had this idea to shoot Bob and the band on a white diamond stage surrounded by an audience dressed in black. They’d appear as out of the darkness of the studio swaying to the mid tempo MOR as he grooved and laid down his mellow lament. So far so Everybody in GAP lame. This is why awards shows suck. Some dickhead creative director type fucking with the format and telling us ‘the fans’ who or what is best in the world of music and art. Nope. Not for me. That crowd look as awkward as any bunch of teenagers on Top Of The Pops in any given decade when they’re presented with a confounding alternative band who just cracked the top 20 and are on between some teenie bop crap and a novelty single by a kids TV show mascot.

Only on this occasion one of the 150 hired extras playing the part of the audience (you see how contrived it gets?) was Mike Portnoy (OK, hands up not the Dream Theater drummer, a different Michael Portnoy, that was a red herring). This particular MP was a comedian at this stage. He saw his chance to move into the world of performance art and so SOY BOMB was born. He chose the two words to convey some art school bollocks I’m not going to dignify with air time on here. All I’ll say is he used his opportunity to stage invade during the performance and jiggle about like Perry Farrell or Iggy Pop on fast forward right by Bob’s side until security haul his ass off. It’s the liveliest moment of the 3 hour awards show and it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t have been out of place at any club show at any point in the entire history of rock and roll.

An art statement that resulted in some parody skits. SNL covered it with a skit featuring Will Ferrell. Jay Leno on his Tonight Show also did a skit. The Simpsons did too. So it’s cannon. A piece of Rock and Roll History. When Eels recorded the song in question here for the expansive Blinking Lights album it sort of immortalized the event. TV shows come and go. Albums are forever.

So, I’m sitting in my record room back in 2005 listening to the new Eels record. I’m loving tracks like Old Shit/New Shit, Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living), Losing Streak, instrumentals with B-Movie obsessed titles like Theme from Blinking Lights and Bride Of Theme From Blinking Lights and we get to Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb. There’s the computer right next to the stereo. I google the name. I learn the nuggets about the award show, the performance art, what we in England recognise as Streaking. Taking your clothes off and pushing yourself into view in front of a large gathering.

Like chasing a rolling wheel of cheese down a steep hill, it’s practically a tradition here in the UK. And I get the answer. Portnoy used the momentum from the Grammy’s to spend the next two decades doing performances where he is the art. He’s got a good reputation as a credible artist and gets hired by galleries to do exhibitions called things like Relational Stalinism and invents stuff like the TALUS abstract gambling table.

You know what? Fair enough. So there you go. I’m still talking about it today on it’s 23 year anniversary so I guess that makes it good art. That’s what happened to Soy Bomb.

Next time on SteveForTheDeaf’s Questions Without Answers: Are We Human or Are We Dancer?

*He says knowingly, looking to camera.

11 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb? – Eels

  1. Great story. Didn’t know.

    Funnily enough, I went to an ‘arty’ Uni and while in retrospect I enjoyed it, I spent a lot of time going “Well, this is just made up bollocks isn’t it?!’ and thus understand that Art can, indeed, be whatever you want. If you’ve got the money…

    Anyway, always loved Eels. Never listened to enough though, what’s wrong with me eh?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Yeah, I can ‘see’ how it works, but it is funny once you realise, especially modern art – and I actually enjoy a lot of it, which is probably worse. I keep having the idea of winning the Turner Prize by doing a film about how to win the Turner Prize (patent pending).

        Thinking about it, most of my jobs across various industries have been full of people making it up as they go along. I think once you realise that’s how it all works, it’s a lot less stressful. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, I dig Everett. You summed up his sound perfectly there…

    I’m away to listen to some Eels now. After I watch that Love Sick performance again. Dylan looking around with a look that said what the fuckery.

    Liked by 1 person

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