Pigtails on a grown woman just mess as with a man's head, for the same reasonthat Alicia Silverstone in a Catholic-schoolgirl skirt resurrected Aerosmith'scareer with a single video. Emily Joyce, the perky drummer and vocalist for SanDiego band Bunky, must know this. And she uses it against you, the same way hercartoonish voice straddles the line between pre-teen naiveté and come-hithersheet-moisturizer. In "Chuy," the sixth song on Bunky's debut album, Born to Be aMotorcycle, Joyce sums up her passive-regressive appeal: "Don't you wanna be theman I adore?" she sings. "Why you actin' like a shy boy?" Why? Because threesongs earlier, she and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Rafter Roberts sang a songcalled "Gotta Pee." Hearing it makes you need a hall pass. The album also kicksoff with the infantile punk of "Baba," in which Joyce describes "all the kidsbreakin' up with their baby teeth" and imitates the cute bubble-gargling soundyoung'uns make when they playfully half-drown in the kiddy pool. "Cute is a realmonster," Joyce says. "We can't help it."
Adds Roberts: "Our music is cute because we are, but we don't try to forcecuteness into things-we just rock out like we know how, and what comes out comesout. We're also not afraid of being un-cool, and we like celebration and joy andspastic fun-ness more than we like depression, despair and angst." This is whyBunky, one of nine San Diego bands invited to play this year's South-by-SouthwestMusic Festival, has long been known as the city's funnest band. And yeah, inBunkyworld, one must conjugate "fun" for the sheer joy of the way it fumbles offyour tongue. In Bunkyworld, Clark Griswald would've yanked a kazoo outta thestation wagon and played a skiffle with Wally the Moose instead of punching himin the snout. The band has been around. Bunky played their first show on Jan. 28,2002, just a couple months after Joyce started playing drums. And it showed. Shewas sloppy back then. She's better now, but still no technical whiz. Yet somehowthey turn such inadequacies into charm. Figuring Roberts is one of San Diego'stop producers (Black Heart Procession, Sufjan Stevens) and co-owner of downtown'sSinging Serpent studios, it's a bit surprising their first official CD wasn'treleased until 2005. Joyce says it was more important for her to learn thefrickin' drums. There's also the fact that Roberts and Joyce used to be a couple;and a break-up nearly coincided with the end of the band. Now, they're pals. "Ijust felt like we weren't in that much of a rush," Joyce says. "Things happened,life got in the way of fully focusing." Roberts satisfies this question with aShakespearean sextet: "We love playing live so much it was hard to focus on thestudio stuff. We have so many different lineup phases that we recorded each songlike five times and then used the best lineup and performance for each. We aresloppily perfectionistic. We broke up in the middle of it and needed time off. Wewanted to make the best album ever of all time. We wanted to capture the fun livespirit of the band and it was ungodly hard." If the urge arises in you to correcthis use of "perfectionistic," shut your pie-hole and listen to Born to be aMotorcycle. It should reverse excessive premature aging.
Bunky plays with The Robot Ate Me and The Donkeys at the Casbah, 9 p.m. onMarch 15. $8. 619-232-HELL.