Cattreena Stone
The cover of my copy of The Bugs' new 7-inch record has a picture of a weird whale with big eyes, and a dead bug floating in the water next to it. It's done in magic marker--still smells like it, even--and looks like a drawing by a demented five-year-old. In fact, I want to hang it on my fridge. If you buy their new record, though, your drawing will be different--each picture is hand-drawn by Mike Comatose, The Bugs' singer/guitarist. You might get a picture of a bug in jail, or maybe a bug having a picnic luncheon. It's all up to chance, which makes sense when you consider The Bugs' music. All of their songs are written as they play them. It's an improv take on two-person, pared-down, dance-party punk rock.

But we'll get back to that in a second. First, I need to tell you something. It's just very important that you go to The Bugs' show this Saturday, because there's a good possibility you will never see them again. They're not breaking up or anything--It's just that they usually only play at parties. "Parties are just nice social environments. People can relax and not feel uncomfortable or hassled in some way. I think that the Soul of Man under Socialism by Oscar Wilde sums it up perfectly," says Comatose.

"It's also about clubs. You wouldn't invite your friends to a party they wouldn't want to go to. A lot of times, going to a club is just sitting around, waiting for your friend's band to play. But at a party, there's usually beer, and it's often free!" says Paul Haines (The Bugs' other guitarist, vocalist, and sometime-drummer).

Regardless of where they're playing, The Bugs' music lends party atmosphere to any venue. Haines and Comatose (both ex-Trumans Water and Silver Kings) write their music in an improv manner during their live show, making songs up as they play. "We just save our songs up in our subconscious and they just fly out," as Comatose explains it. What flies out is youthful and spunky, with jumping guitars that dance through the eras of early '60s garage, pre-punk punk, and Beat Happening/Modern Lovers lo-fi--The Bugs know how to throw one on. And, of course, their music is infinitely danceable. "I listen to Motown probably 90 percent of the time," says Comatose. "I haven't bought any records since [The Cure's] In Between Days. And actually, I stole that one."

The Bugs have a great sense of humor, too. Take their record, for instance (which is on Dead Moon's label, Tombstone, and printed on the same record cutter that was used to press the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie" .45). The song "She's Got Mono," is about a girl, but she's not sick with mononucleosis--she's nutty for mono sound, as in "mono vs. stereo." It is impossible to hear that song and not have two instincts: One is to laugh at such a cute pun. The other is to shimmy-shake your body 'til you're uptight no more.

To be completely honest, this isn't The Bugs' first non-party gig. They played the last show at E.J.'s last summer, and they accidentally got booked at Satyricon once. "We decided we couldn't be a no-show, so we pulled up in front in my truck. We played [in the back of the truck] maybe 20 minutes, before a crazy tweeker lady came out from her apartment and screamed at us," says Comatose. We decided to play one more song before we left, and she came out again, screaming and banging on our truck with her cell phone, as we pulled away, she yelled, 'Learn how to play!' Usually I'm reserved, but as we drove away, I yelled back, 'Fuck you, lady--We're The Bugs!'"

Then the shell of the truck fell down on his head.

It's still a good story, though.