‘It’s complicated’: An interview with Bongo Fury’s Tripp Nasty

Denver music icon Tripp Nasty is a fascinating guy. His cosmic “Americana folk noise” group, Bongo Fury, plays Pehrspace tonight with Essay, I.E., Whisky Dick, Voice On Tape and DJ Vegan Share the Road.

Tripp’s my age—38—and that makes him something of a longterm survivor on the underground scene. He toured with Crash Worship back in the day (I used follow that all-drumming band around, too), has the dirt on nearly every Denver musician, and even makes a living from his music which is pretty fucking amazing in 2010 or any year.

Photos: Matt Slaby

Tripp Nasty has seen and heard it all—and survived to tell this tale:

What is Bongo Fury?
An Americana folk noise group.

What instruments do you most often play?
The harmonium.

Is that Captain Beefheart/Frank Zappa album an influence or just a cool name?
It’s just a cool name.

What’s the set-up/line-up for your group?
Tripp Nasty (vocals, harmonium, guitar), Zachary Spencer (vocals, tablas, harmonium, mirangi, gong), Marcy Saude (vocals, singing saw, mirangi), and John Golter (vocals, dholak, gong).

How long have you been going to shows?
About 20 years.

How long have you been playing in bands? About 20 years.

What was the first band you were in?
It was a band called Rocket No. 9.

What groups are you in now?
Bongo Fury, The Mind Sect.

Is music your main occupation?
Yes, right now music is my main occupation.

What’s the first concert you ever saw?
John Lee Hooker with my father at the El Casino Ballroom in Tucson, Arizona.

What’s the first underground show you ever saw?
In 1989 I saw Screeching Weasel play at a place called the Tucson Warehouse and Transfer Company.

How did both these experiences affect you?

How were you affected by grunge?
Not at all

How has the underground scene changed over the years?
It’s bigger, much bigger. Thank the Internet for that.

When and why did you move to Denver?
2002—it’s a nice place.

Will you stay in Denver forever?
I don’t know.

What is it that makes the Denver scene so special?
Rhinoceropolis, Glob, the people, the mountains.

There are so many revered Denver musicians like Josh Taylor (Foot Village, XBXRX) and Alejandro Archuleta (Psychic Handbook)….do you remember the circumstances under which you met them?
The very first time I visited Monkey Mania in 2004 Josh Taylor was working the front door and when I got to talking to him he suddenly disappeared through the door behind him. Later he popped out with the cassette tape of a band I had been in 1996-1997 called Duarte 6. I don’t remember this but in 1997 Duarte 6 went on tour with Crash Worship and played a show at the Azatlan Theatre in Denver. Josh had bought one of those tapes. I was amazed that he had kept the tape especially since I was a big fan of Friends Forever—they are one of the best bands.

Alejandro (aka Alex) asked me for a job at a party one night in the summer of 2005, I think. He was 17, just out of high school and I had no idea who the heck he was. This was for the beginning of the Tripp Nasty Orchestra, when it was all toy keyboards. I talked to my bandmates and we agreed to interview him. Then we invited him to a formal interview. My two partners, Bekki Forstrom and Warren Bedell, and I sat Alex down and asked him 21 questions and then scored him. Beforehand we had agreed on the score that he’d need to pass the muster. After he left we tallied the points and he didn’t actually get the job. But we discussed and some of Alex’s answers to questions were pretty good….here’s a sampling….

Q: What would you bring to this enterprise?
A: I was the most popular boy at my high school.
Q: Why?
A: Uh, what does that mean? I don’t think that’s a question.

Ingenious answers to each so we overrode the scoring procedure and hired him. He was great—played with him for about a year.

Can you ever imagine NOT making music?

Where’s music headed?
The future.

What would you say is your overriding musical philosophy now, in 2010?
It’s complicated.

You say “it’s complicated” but you seem to be really focussed on a particular sound. Who have you been listening to lately?
Roshan Jamal Bhartiya, Dude War, The Pork Torta, MC III, Adam Reese, Foot Village, Novasak, Night of Ultra Violence, Silentist, Bombay Sisters

If Kyle Mabson was really your son, what advice would you give him about life?
Play more music.

Some great YouTube videos by Tripp Nasty


Direct links for iPhone users, etc.:

World’s Fastest and Best Harmonium solo by Great Maestro



G SONG Terry Riley accordion version

Orphan’s Lament


Friends Forever—Charge!!!

Damascus Ice Cream

Midnight Zikr at the Dargah of Hazrat Inayat Khan

Sublime Frequencies – Sumatran Folk Cinema – Trailer

See and hear Tripp Nasty at tonight’s show!

This Monday, May 24th

Sean Carnage &
Peter’s Pool Boys present…

Voice on Tape
Whisky Dick
(members of Whitman and XBXRX
…involves poetry and upright bass)
Bongo Fury

+ DJ Vegan Share The Road

Starts 9:30pm
$5 / all-ages

Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown

RSVP for Monday’s show here

Watch exclusive the videos here—no one else is documenting modern music quite like this!

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