Green Jellÿ, Live at The Dome, Bakersfield, May 2010
|Origin||Kenmore, New York, United States|
|Genres||Comedy rock, heavy metal, punk rock, alternative metal|
|Labels||Zoo Entertainment, Volcano, Originology Records|
|Associated acts||Tool, Gwar, A Perfect Circle, Pigmy Love Circus, Psychostick, Puscifer, Tapeworm, Radioactive Chicken Heads, Rosemary's Billygoat|
Green Jellÿ (pronounced "green jello") is an American comedy rock band formed in 1981. Originally named Green Jellö, the band changed its name due to legal pressure from the owners of the Jell-O trademark, Kraft Foods, who claimed that it was an infringement of their trademark. Despite the spelling difference, the new name and the old are pronounced identically.
Green Jellÿ has had hundreds of members during the band's lifetime, with Bill Manspeaker the only consistent member throughout. The lineup during their most popular album release Cereal Killer is typically referenced as it contained several musicians who went on to appear in other major 1990s bands.
Bill Manspeaker, a resident of Kenmore, New York, formed Green Jellÿ in 1981 as Green Jellö, a four-piece comedy-punk band. As most of the band's members were poor musicians at the time, they billed themselves as "The World's Worst Band" and emphasized bizarre theatrics, power chords, and self-deprecating humor. The name, which was suggested by a friend of the band, was chosen because the band members felt lime-flavored Jell-O was the worst Jell-O flavor, and Manspeaker believed this also reflected the band's talents.
The band began playing punk shows around Buffalo, New York, and became notorious for their onstage antics and live theatrics. The band were musical novices to the degree that the bassist had to color-code the frets on his bass guitar so that he could memorize finger placement by color.
Early career (1981–1984)
One of the band's earliest shows was held in a Masonic Temple in Kenmore. During the show, members of the rowdy audience broke into the venue's kitchen mid-concert and found a full case of ice cream sandwiches, which they proceeded to throw at the band. By the end of the night the stage was ruined and Green Jellö had to reimburse the venue for damages and cleaning. Another early gig at a YMCA also ended in the band having to pay for clean-up; this time for spilling a large amount of fake blood on the carpets. The band acquired a reputation as a "food-throwing rock band", and audience members started bringing their own green Jell-O to shows, which they would then throw at the band. The group was eventually banned from Buffalo music club McVans for an act that included smashing televisions on stage with a sledgehammer. They temporarily changed their name to AJP (American Jell-O Party), copying the Sex Pistols' trick of changing their name to "SPOTS" (Sex Pistols On Tour Secretly) in order to play shows in places where they were banned, including McVans. This proved successful, and they got back into McVans only to repeat their destructive conduct and be banned once again. Following this, the name was changed back to Green Jellö and they attempted to book different venues.
Green Jellÿ found a supporter in local punk club "The Continental" owner Bud Burke. Burke let the band play his club on a regular basis despite the bizarre live shows. Implements of sadomasochism, such as inversion boots and wheels of torture were employed and on some occasions the band incompetently played an entire show of Led Zeppelin covers. As word spread, the shows began to regularly sell out.
In 1984 Green Jellö opened for the Ramones at a Buffalo State College summertime outdoor free concert, and the band (who as the opening act had their equipment set up in front of the Ramones' gear) were pelted by the audience with the usual Jell-O, whipped cream and pudding. In the end, not only were Green Jellö covered, but so too was the Ramones' equipment. Years later in an interview with New York Rocker magazine, Joey Ramone singled out Green Jellö as the worst band to ever open for the Ramones.
Let It Be (1984–1987)
In 1984 Green Jellö released Let It Be, an 8-song 7-inch 45 EP, on their own label, American Jello Parti Productions, Inc. The cover artwork (designed by Manspeaker) was a parody of The Beatles' Let It Be album cover. Recorded in Bill's bedroom and at a local band rehearsal hall, the album featured the theme song "Green Jellö Theme Song" (the band's initial manifesto/call to arms), as well as early songs "I've Got Poo-Poo On My Shoe" (later "Shitman"), "Whip Me Teenage Babe" (later "House Me Teenage Rave"), "Hill, Hill", "Do the Howie" (a song about the bumbling rent-a-cop at the band's high school alma mater, Kenmore West High School, sung to the tune of Van McCoy's "The Hustle"), the one-second long "Icrog", "The Ice Cream Song", and "I'll Buy You Any Major Appliance You Want Baby, Ooo Ooo".
Let It Be was limited to a release of 500 and only released picture sleeves were simply a green tinted photocopy of the original cardboard sleeve. The original hard-cardboard sleeves are now highly sought after by collectors.
The record also included a multi-panel lyric sheet (designed by Manspeaker). The back cover of the picture sleeve features an actual endorsement from Kiss member Paul Stanley, whom Green Jellö had met during that time. The Let It Be EP was also given away at a record release party in which fans had to climb a "Green Jellö Tree" in front of the club to claim a free record. The band actually taped a large amount of 45s up in the tree in the front of the club. The band's high propensity for absurd, illogical stunts such as this soon became the norm.
Around this time, Green Jellö started turning up for gigs in multiple stretch limos. The band just thought it was an absurd, funny thing for an admittedly horrible band to do. Other weird things Green Jellö used to do on stage during early Buffalo shows included making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on their chests, and ironing clothes on stage while singing.
The band began to get more and more (faux) outrageous onstage, eventually involving fake torture, whipping and women. Often the band would play new songs, so that the audience would not know how badly they were messing up. Crazy stage names were adopted, multiple members joined. Green Jellö appeared on the TV show The Gong Show. Trying hard to sound bad, the band was "gonged" quickly, but had achieved its goal of national TV exposure.
Road to success (1987–1991)
After the local success in Buffalo, many of the members relocated to Hollywood, California. In 1987, while working at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard, they reformed the band, and quickly became a fixture in the Hollywood underground scene. Their first Los Angeles show was at The Central (which later became the Viper Room on Sunset Blvd), playing a show organized by Sylvia Massy, who would later produce two of their albums. In 1988, Bill and the band met GWAR, and an instant friendship was formed over their mutual love of costumes and props. After the initial meeting, Green Jellö decided to ditch their uncomfortable and dangerous papier maché/chicken wire costume heads in favor of the more user friendly foam rubber heads that GWAR had been making. They garbage picked cushions from abandoned Hollywood couches and carved their new characters such as "Shitman" (a giant, walking corn-filled poop monster), "Cowgod", "Rock n Roll Pumpkin", and "Satan's Ham". The band's live show became an over-the-top adventure in absurdity, now consisting of usually 20 members onstage.
In 1989, Green Jellö released its second album, Triple Live Möther Gööse at Budokan, on February 29 Records, which was recorded in a garage with producer Sylvia Massy in about the same amount of time it takes to play it. A rare video was also released for this album with music videos for each song. It featured a much more defined sound, as well as far better production and songwriting. The band began to tighten up musically, enlisting drummer Danny Carey (later in Tool), as well as bassist Bill Tutton (King Dot), guitarists Marc Levinthal (Pippi Rockstocking), Steven Shenar (Sven Seven), C.J. Buscaglia (Jesus Quisp) and Bernie Peaks (Bernie Vicious), along with bassist Rootin' Bloomquist. The band also had 7 vocalists, including Bill Manspeaker (Moronic Dictator, Shitman, Marshall "Duh" Staxxx), Joe Cannizzaro (Dunderhead), Keith Matherne (Keni Logginz), Gary Helsinger (Hotsy Menshot, Piñata Head), Greg Reynard (Reason Clean, Toucan Son of Sam) and Maynard James Keenan (Billy Bob). The band also had two female backup singers/floor tom drummers, Kim O'Donnell (Sadistica), and Caroline Jester (Jella Tin). Kim O'Donnell also designed and created all the artwork, covers, comics, and logos for the band.
Cereal Killer (1991–1993)
In 1991, the band approached BMG subsidiary label Zoo Entertainment, and claiming they were the "world's first video-only band", offered to make the entire project (all music, videos, artwork, etc.) entirely on their own for the unheard-of sum of $50,000. Zoo signed them on the spot. The only problem was, it had been a bluff, and the band had never made a "video album" before. After buying a video camera, some wood and some lights, the band set out to learn on the job, and in Fall 1992 delivered their third album Cereal Killer, again produced by Sylvia Massy, recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. The Cereal Killer album came with the long-form video release, consisting of music videos for each song, as well as a behind-the-scenes feature. The video album slowly gained a reputation in the underground, and would eventually go on to sell over 100,000 copies. Their break came when a radio station in Seattle, Washington, The X KXRX, played "Three Little Pigs" as a joke, but instead the station's phones lit up and it became a local hit. This caused Zoo to issue the EP Green Jellö SUXX, consisting of four songs from Cereal Killer, which in turn led to the "The Three Little Pigs" becoming a hit on The Box (A pay-per-play cable-TV jukebox network). By early 1993, the song was gaining airplay around the country, and after appearing on MTV Headbanger's Ball, everything exploded. MTV added the video and the full-length audio album Cereal Killer Soundtrack was finally released in April 1993.
The video for "The Three Little Pigs" was directed by Fred Stuhr (who also directed Tool's "Sober" video), and it featured a claymation rendition of the classic fairy tale with modern twists, such as pot-smoking pigs, an appearance by Rambo, and a Harley Davidson-riding wolf. The video was an instant hit on MTV and was No. 17 for most of the summer of 1993 in the US, receiving both an MTV music award and Billboard music award nomination. Meanwhile, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at a peak position of No. 5. As a result of the "The Three Little Pigs" video, the Cereal Killer Soundtrack album went gold in the US, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as platinum in Australia, eventually selling over 14 million songs worldwide. Green Jellö spent almost a year touring the US and Europe in support of the Cereal Killer Soundtrack. In 1993 they released the single "Electric Harley House (Of Love)", the video featured Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS and also featured some of the band in KISS-inspired costumes. Later in 1993, Green Jellÿ released a single that was not to be included on any of their full-length albums: a duet with Hulk Hogan performing Gary Glitter's "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)", which scored them a third Top 40 hit in the UK.
333 and late career (1994–1995)
In 1994, Green Jellÿ began a joint venture with $4 million from their parent company, BMG Music, to open Green Jellÿ Studios, an audio and visual production house on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The production house made music videos for other artists, as well as production pieces for TV and film. It was here that Green Jellÿ recorded and filmed their 4th album, 333. Focusing more on the musical side, and even featuring non-comedy songs, the album was a more eclectic gathering, ranging from thrash metal to grunge rock to dance music. Due to problems with the record company and virtually no promotion, the album failed to make waves. The long form video for the album was never properly released, and is extremely hard to find. The album spawned "The Bear Song" which appears in the Farrelly Brothers film Dumb and Dumber, but failed to chart. Though the new video album was never properly released, it did receive a 1995 Grammy nomination for best long-form video.
Also in 1994, the band wrote and produced the soundtrack for the Acclaim Entertainment video game Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage. Due to the state of video game music technology at that time, the soundtrack was not recorded music, but a computerized rendition of the songs. Portions of the soundtrack also made an appearance in Maximum Carnage's sequel, Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety. In the same year, Green Jellÿ appeared as themselves in an episode of the Fantastic Four animated series called "Super Skrull", in which The Thing records a music video for a song about his catch phrase—"It’s Clobberin’ Time!"
In 1995, the band recorded an album's worth of brand-new material for Zoo Entertainment, but due to ongoing problems with the struggling label which would eventually lead to it being merged with Volcano Entertainment in 1996, the album was not released. However, this material would be released 14 years later in the form of Musick to Insult Your Intelligence By.
Although Green Jellÿ never officially broke up, the members of the band's core Cereal Killer/333 lineup (with the exception of Manspeaker) gradually started going separate ways afterwards.
Green Jellÿ also released a cover of "Born to Be Wild" in 1995, for a movie soundtrack of the same name.
Reunion and new album (2008–2009)
On February 19, 2008, music news website Blabbermouth.net announced that Green Jellÿ was reuniting and that a possible U.S. tour was in the works. Tourdates are listed at their MySpace page. The band also re-released the Cereal Killer and 333 video/albums on a self-produced DVD with Originology Records, which were only sold at their concerts.
In late August, the band announced via their Myspace page that they would again be going on tour in the Fall. Several "new" songs became available via their Myspace page, as well as information on a new Green Jellö DVD and CD.
Green Jellÿ finally released Musick to Insult Your Intelligence By on October 13, 2009. The album was actually a collection of the "lost demos" from 1995 for the band's 3rd album before being dropped by Zoo Entertainment, and was pulled from a DAT safety that Gary Helsinger had kept. It features the same lineup as Cereal Killer and 333 except for C.J. Buscaglia and Roy Staley (replaced by Rob Brown), who had already left the band at the time of recording.
Parental Advisory Tour (2010–present)
On March 25, 2010, Green Jellÿ embarked on the Parental Advisory Tour with headliners Nashville Pussy and the cult comedy metal band Psychostick. The tour ended in Phoenix, Arizona on May 30, 2010. In May 2010, Shell Gasoline released a commercial featuring "The Bear Song" from the album "333". On June 26, 2010 Green Jellÿ played the "American Skate Fest" in Rutland, Ohio with headliners GWAR. Then the band played four shows on The Vans Warped Tour on the "Punk Rock Legends" stage. The band toured extensively the rest of the year on the "Shell Gas Commercial Tour" playing in over 130 cities throughout the United States.
The band took most of 2011 off to relax and enjoy life on the beach with family, while only playing select shows at The Vans Warped Tour and The Skatopia Bowl Bash.
Jet Set Tour 2012
As of 2012, Bill Manspeaker has once again brought Green Jellÿ back to life to embark on the "Green Jelly Jet Set Tour 2012" touring throughout the United States beginning at The Evil Wine Carnival in Boise, Idaho on September 28. at their concert date in New York City, the opening band for their show was New York rock band The Fearless, currently signed to FoNE Entertainment.
At the height of the band's fame, Green Jellö was plagued by multiple lawsuits. In 1992, they were sued by Kraft Foods for trademark infringement. Due to the name "Jellö", and more so the band slogan "GREEN JELLÖ SUCKS!", the band was forced to change their name to Green Jellÿ, with an umlaut over the Y. This umlaut, according to the band, "changed the 'Y' sound to an 'O' sound". The band was forced to re-release their album and long form video, as well as change all merchandise carrying the "Jellö" name.
Later in 1992, Green Jellÿ was sued by the Kellogg Company for trademark infringement of their Toucan Sam character, as well as others. The cover of Cereal Killer (both album and video) depicted "Toucan Son of Sam" the "Cereal Killer" that kills other cereal characters, such as Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Trix Rabbit, and Lucky the Leprechaun in extremely gruesome fashion. The band were forced to change the cover art (originally depicting Toucan Son of Sam), as well as place a white box in the center of the new cover which stated "Not affiliated with or endorsed by Kraft/General Foods". Additionally, the band was forced to remove the music video for the song "Cereal Killer" from the long form home video release. On the album 333, Toucan Son of Sam is referred to as "Pelican Son of Sam", and "Pelican Pete" at subsequent stage shows.
In 1993, Green Jellÿ was also sued by the management of Metallica for partial use of their song "Enter Sandman" in the song "Electric Harley House (Of Love)". The bass and rhythm guitars in the solo section of the song play a riff close to that of "Enter Sandman", and even though the band mentions it in lyric immediately after the riff, the band was forced to remove the part from the later CD versions of Cereal Killer and pull the music video from MTV.
Life after Jellÿ
- Joe Cannizzaro (Dunderhead) became a television/video producer and was a videographer for DreamWorks Animation SKG.
- Gary Helsinger (Hotsy Menshot) is now director of Special Markets at Universal Music Publishing.
- Bill Manspeaker (Moronic Dictator, Marshall "Duh" Staxx) was the owner of Qtopia, a night club in Hollywood, but sold the club due to the heavy drug use at the venue. He is working on an alien abduction film Motel 666, starring the Suicide Girls. But later revives Green Jellÿ in 2008, and has been touring since.
- Danny Carey is now the drummer for the multi-platinum progressive rock band Tool.
- Keith McCormack (Kiko-Band Member #13) Played with GJ from 1984-1991, and went on to teach English in China. He currently works as a Field Service Technician fixing videogames in Casinos.
- Kim O'Donnell (Sadistica) is now a Hollywood visual effects artist, having worked for Disney, and on such films as Con Air, Armageddon, X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Flight of the Phoenix, among others.
- Bill Tutton went on to join El Vez, Geraldine Fibbers and other bands.
- Jim Laspesa (Mick Stadium) went on to play with Dave Davies of The Kinks, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Peter Case of The Plimsouls, The Muffs, Baby Lemonade and others.
- CJ Buscaglia (Jesus Quisp) became a producer and engineer, working on various album projects for many artists in the 1990s including Love & Rockets, Goo Goo Dolls and others. He then moved to Buffalo, New York and started giving guitar lessons and started recording an album. He died in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, on January 16, 2015, after complications with asthma. He was aged 51.
- Marc Levinthal (Pippi Rockstocking) went on to work in film scoring and other literary and musical projects.
- Maynard James Keenan (Billy Bob) is now the lead singer for the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer.
Connection with Tool
- Danny Carey from Tool was a member of Green Jellÿ for five years, and played drums on the album Cereal Killer as Danny Long Legs. He is also featured in the video for "Electric Harley House (Of Love)", among others.
- Maynard James Keenan, vocalist for Tool, recorded a song with Green Jellÿ. On the song Three Little Pigs Maynard sang backing vocals (he sings the falsetto "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.") Maynard is also mentioned in the song "Green Jellö Theme Song" in the lyric "Maynard, and Poopie—they're both insane!" and appears in the music video for the 333 album song "Slave Boy".
- The song "Message to Harry Manback" on Tool's Ænima is an actual message left on Gary Helsinger's (Hotsy Menshot) answering machine by a former friend from Italy, whom Gary had just kicked out of his apartment for stealing his roommate's belongings. "Harry Manback" is a reference to a routine from the late comedian Bill Hicks. Maynard James Keenan and Danny Carey were both roommates of Bill Manspeaker during Green Jellö, and Gary was later roommates with Maynard as well as Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle.
- Tool was signed to the same label as Green Jellÿ, the now-defunct Zoo Entertainment.
- Tool's first EP has songs recorded live at the Green Jellö loft.
- 1989: Triple Live Möther Gööse at Budokan
- 1992: Cereal Killer
- 1993: Cereal Killer Soundtrack
- 1994: 333
- 2009: Musick to Insult Your Intelligence By
- 1992: "Three Little Pigs"
- 1993: "Anarchy in the UK"
- 1993: "Electric Harley House (Of Love)"
- 1993: "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)"
- 1993: "House Me Teenage Rave"
- 1993: "Three Little Pigs" (1993 re-release)
- 1994: "The Bear Song"
- 1994: "Slave Boy"
- 1993: "Cereal Killer"
- 1994: "333"
- Huey, Steve. Biography of Green Jelly at AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Green Jellÿ Biography". ihategreenjelly.com. 2008. Archived from the original on 2005-02-10. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Green Jellö's Early History". musicismyweapon.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Green Jellÿ Billboard Information". Billboard. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "British Chart History". polyhex.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "The 1995 Grammy's (Awards and Nominations)". rockonthenet.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Cart Queries". GamePro (66). IDG. January 1995. p. 12.
- "GREEN JELLŸ Reunites, Plans U.S. Tour". Blabbermouth.net. February 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- "The Dead Rock Stars Club - January to June 2015". Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Tool EP liner notes
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