The winning entry of the Red Bubble A.R.S.E Group I AM THE BAND Challenge
Written and designed by the mysterious IWML from Melbourne Australia, the story begins in the 1990s with an interview with the Nihilistic Norwegian Black Metal Band SAD PANDA and its members
Bambucifer, Chaosbear & Ailuropoda Melancholia
They go onto break up and release solo projects only to reform under another guise missing a member.
It's all intrigue, bad manners and rock n roll.
This blog will run the complete saga over the next couple of weeks as part of the prizes awarded for such conceptual brilliance.
IMWL is responsible for all writing, art, animation and music and is a deserving winner.
THE SAGA OF SAD PANDA PART ONE
DEPRESSIVE BLACKENED SUICIDAL BLACK METAL, WITH PANDAS:
An interview with Sad Panda.
As notorious as they are famous, as mysteriously private as they are a cult phenomena, there is no other black metal band like Sad Panda. The creators of what they call “depressive blackened suicidal black metal”, they are uncompromosingly single-visioned, dedicated to their music as a lifestyle, rather than just a trend or a commodity. Their myspace page “will refuse all the friend requests”, because “friends are for the happiness”.
Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Sad Panda are as “kult” a band as you will find. Even though they are separate (with Chaosbear on the drums, Bambucifer on bass, and Ailuropoda Melancholia on all guitars and vocals), they are One - united by their intense misanthropic natures, their obsession with pure depressive blackened suicidal black metal, and pandas.
At their request, I interviewed them at their rehearsal space in Oslo, at midnight, while “the frozen moon beckons the shadow-void through the virgin blood of infernal sacrifice”, and brought a six pack.
Me: Thanks for doing this interview.
A.M: Thanks for having us, ja. It is to be pleasurable for us to talk in this way.
Bambucifer: Well, but not too pleasurable, to be sure.
A.M: Sure, yes, not too pleasurable. As depressive blackened suicidal black metal band, this interiew is just a small respite from the unrelenting horror, really.
Chaosbear: I can no longer feel any pleasure at all, so enshrouded by darkness am I.
Bambucifer: No, me also. I am cold like the mountains.
Me: You want me to put the heater on?
Bambucifer: No, I am talking about in my very soul of blackness. The room is fine.
Chaosbear: Considering the bleak necro-chill in my heart. But yes, the room is fine.
A.M: I’m also fine with the warmth levels, thank you.
Me: Okay, great. So, um, why “Sad Panda”? You’ve been criticised by some elements of the black metal community, saying it doesn’t really seem very black metal.
A.M: That is simply an incorrect statement. There is nothing more black metal in the world.
Chaosbear: Fuck them anyway, what the fuck do they know.
A.M: As you know, we play exclusively depressive blackened suicidal black metal, so when we were trying for the creation of a name, we needed the most depressive name there could ever be in the universe. A name that inspires bleakness and unhappiness in the ears of the listening person, ja?
Bambucifer: And there is nothing sadder than a sad panda.
Chaosbear: There is nothing sadder than a sad panda.
Bambucifer: Can you think of anything sadder than a sad panda?
A.M: I cannot.
Bambucifer: I also cannot. It is very sad to be a sad panda.
Chaosbear: Have to eat fucking bamboo all the time.
A.M: Sure, and the wiping out of the environments, and with all the being endangered.
Bambucifer: And the not being able to breed, and being alone, desolate, in the cold mountains, watching your very species dying out-
Chaosbear: The fucking bamboo though, that is for making a very sad creature. “What would you like to eat tonight sir, some hamburgers, some pudding?” “No I can only eat bamboo man”.
Bambucifer: It’s just fucking sad.
A.M: Ja. It is sad.
Chaosbear: There is nothing sadder than a sad panda.
A.M: It is indeed very very bleak.
Chaosbear: Depressive. Makes me want to kill myself.
Bambucifer: Ja. Very many times.
Me: Sure, yeah, it’s pretty sad.
Chaosbear: I will cut myself when I get home, I think.
Bambucifer: Ja, that will be very bleak. I might also do that.
A.M: I did it before we left, just in case.
Me: Hey, what about puppies? Sad puppies would be pretty sad.
Chaosbear: FUCK PUPPIES! Puppies are shit.
Bambucifer: Yeah, fuck puppies. What the fuck have the puppies got to be sad about?
Chaosbear: Puppies are fucking shit man.
A.M: Ja, puppies what, “ooh I lost my ball”, “I want a walkies”? Fuck you, puppy! You know NOTHING!
Bambucifer: A panda has no home! A panda has no ball! A panda never has a walkies!
Chaosbear: And the puppies, they have the bones, they have the dry foods, they have the wet foods or the can or whatever –
A.M: Maybe little snackies during the day-
Chaosbear: -ja, and the panda, he’s only got fucking bamboo, man.
A.M: It’s fucking depressive to be the panda, no doubts about it.
Bambucifer: Fuck them. Little bastards. They are not depressive at all.
Me: Right. Okay, well.
Me: Okay, right. Well. On to the music. Although you are pretty well known in the underground, I could only find one of your songs online. Why is that? Is it like a deliberate restriction of your work to ensure the band remains “kult” and never-
A.M: We only have one song.
Me: You only have one song?
Bambucifer: It is quite a long song.
Bambucifer: Longer than a lot of bands who have more songs, I am thinking.
Chaosbear: It is a fucking long song. That is fucking 15 minutes of continous drumming there. You fucking do that.
A.M: It says all we need to say, you know, about the sadness of the panda.
Chaosbear: 15 minutes, man! I am getting so tired after that I don’t even have the
energy to slit my wrists and bleed my life-force into the cold bleak snow.
A.M: I do, but only just.
Bambucifer: It is a very long song.
Me: You only have one song. What’s the basic gist of the lyrics?
A.M: It is about the sadness of the panda, you know, the desolation, the depression.
Me: For fifteen minutes.
A.M: Sure, ja. There’s a lot of depression to say about.
Bambucifer: See, what you are needing to understand is that we are a depressive blackened suicidal black metal band. We play exclusively depressive blackened suicidal black metal. We do not get together to have some of the beers and eat some of the crisps and have some big fat happy moshing party with cigarettes.
Chaosbear: Parties are not bleak at all, they are fucking bullshit.
Bambucifer: We fucking make sadness in the band, we make the desolation and the sorrowlands frost-life of the panda.
A.M: And that takes 15 minutes to do. No less, and no more.
Chaosbear: Parties make me want to cut myself.
Bambucifer: Pandas don’t have the parties! Fuck parties.
Me: Yeah, fuck em. Okay, so your one song is a bit of an epic, and it’s like totally about being a panda-
A.M: Being a sad panda.
Me: Sure, yeah, a really really sad panda, and it’s called “Sad Panda (Stares Into The Abyss)”, and it’s only available at myspace.com/sadpandaofficial. As I was listening to it, it felt like three or four bands kinda just playing at the same time, with no real connection between the different parts. I don’t mean that in like a bad way, I just mean it’s kinda-
Bambucifer: You don’t like it? Fuck you!
Me: No, no, it’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s just like, well, it’s not really like anything I’ve heard before. I mean, how do you write your songs? Ah, song?
A.M: We just get together and begin thinking to ourselves, “what kind of depressive blackened suicidal black metal would a sad panda play”, and then just perform that on our instruments.
Bambucifer: Ja, see also the panda has the enlarged bone in its hand which is being called the ‘pseudo thumb’, right? And so to play the bass like you are a sad desolate depressive bleak nekro panda, you need to play it like you are having the extra thumb. ....
A.M: That is exactly true, and why my guitar parts are sounding the way they are. Because of the extra fucking thumb, man.....
Bambucifer: Ja, the fucking ‘psuedo thumb’.
Chaosbear: It’s made of bone, man. It’s fucking nekro as fuck.
Bambucifer: Totally fucking brutal.
Me: Right, sure. But why don’t any of the guitar parts actually fit together?
A.M: Pandas cannot play guitars.
Chaosbear: You ever seen a fucking panda up there playing a guitar?
Bambucifer: Euronymous wasn’t a panda, man. You think Euronymous was a fucking panda?
Bambucifer: If you think Euronymous was a fucking panda, then fuck you!
Me: I don’t think he was a panda-
Chaosbear: He was not a panda, that much is for certain.
A.M: Pandas cannot play guitars.
Me: Okay. So… um… what are your influences?
A.M: Sad sad pandas.
Me: Okay… er… okay, what next for Sad Panda? Er, the band, not the song. Or any actual panda.
Bambucifer: Well, I am feeling like I want to play some depressive blackened suicidal black metal.
Chaosbear: I will go home and cut myself.
A.M: I am thinking of entering the dark void beyond the forest throne, at dusk.
Me: Is that like… is that to do with pandas?
Bambucifer: Not everything is about pandas, man.
Bambucifer Chaosbear Ailuropoda Melancholia
SAD PANDA's only official release
THE PANDA TAKES A BOW: the last days of Sad Panda.
Well, after years of rumours, lies, half-truths and gossip, the truth is finally out – Norway’s kings of panda-related depressive blackened suicidal black metal, SAD PANDA, have called it a day. To some, it came as a shock – how could a band so united in vision, so single-minded in purpose, ever break up? To others, it was nigh on inevitable – as one source put it, “they were just too misanthropic to stay together, they understand only bamboo and pain, not ‘togetherness’.” Yet until now, the details of the split have been shrouded in mystery, as have the band members’ subsequent lives. Finally, here, now, all the pieces of the Sad Panda jigsaw puzzle are spilled out on the table. It is up to you to put them back together again to make it look like the picture on the front of the box – the box marked ‘TRUTH’.
NO NEED FOR SPREADSHEETS
After their ill-fated 1997 gig at DunkelFisterBrommerKriegenLober BlitzenHall, where their 15 minute epic ‘Sad Panda (Stares Into the Abyss)’ went for a tawdry 8 and a half minutes, ending with a squall of feedback and the separate band members wandering off the stage at separate times in separate directions, the rumour mill began grinding straight away. Was that the end for Sad Panda? Why did bass-player Bambucifer walk off halfway through the song? Did they really hate each other as much as it seemed? What happened to the light show? Where’d I put my drink? The questions seemed endless. But in all actuality, had someone been there to tally all the questions, perhaps arrange them in alphabetical order, maybe using a piece of gridpaper or specialised tabulation software like Excel, that person would have discovered that indeed there was an end to the questions, all things being bound by the finite nature of the universe. But that person, even with all their fancy stationery and access to quite expensive software, would still have been no closer to the facts about Sad Panda than anyone else with more typical stationery and dodgy open-source versions of virtually the same programs – for Sad Panda were nowhere to be found.
Only one thing was for certain – that truncated rendition of ‘Sad Panda (Stares Into the Abyss)’ at the infamous DunkelFisterBrommerKriegenLober BlitzenHall was to be their last.
Grind, o rumourmill, grind.
THE BAND THAT WAS, BECOMES NOT THAT ANYMORE
For a while, it was assumed that their low public profile was just Sad Panda going about business as usual – the kvlt, frostbitten, nekrobusiness of remaining Oslo’s most underground panda-related depressive blackened suicidal black metal band. Which they most definitely were – which was part of the problem. Their new-found kvlt status was beginning to fray the once-glacier-solid band into smaller, more frayed, glacier-ettes. In Bambucifer’s words:
“At that gig at the DunkelFisterBrommerKriegenLober BlitzenHall, there were kids
moshing, throwing horns in the air, you know, slamdancing and stage-diving and fucking really getting into the music. Everyone in the whole fucking venue was having the very awesome time, and I was thinking, what the fuck, I was thinking to myself, are we the fucking partyband now? FUCK YOU, we are NOT the fucking partyband.”
The seeds of split-uppedness were already sown. If supplied with enough water and sun, there was no doubt that they would grow upward, bigger and bigger, until one day, they would bloom into a big pretty flower of separation, rich with the heady perfume of loss. And that water and sun came all too soon, in the form of The Onyx Euron.
TOO KVLT FOR SCHOOL
When Sad Panda were awarded The Onyx Euron (the Norwegian underground black metal scene’s equivalent of the Golden Logie) in 2001, that was the last straw for this black metal camel. As Ailuropoda Melancholia tells the story:
“Bambucifer was already thinking we were not kvlt enough, that we were being too happy and frolicking like little lambsies on the hilltops. He was already saying we sold out already by recording a song, we should’ve stayed troo and kvlt and not played ANY music at all, that we should’ve all maybe just been killing ourselves and getting it over and fucking done with. And Chaosbear was being worried that maybe we had too much fun making the music and hanging out together being depressive, you know? Like, maybe if we were depressive alone it would be even MORE depressive. And then, fuck, well then we got that fucking award. I still have it on my shelf, you know. My shelf of despair. It’s in the rumpus room.”
The black metal camel that was Sad Panda, was a sad black metal panda camel that had faced one straw too many on its cold, necrofrozen hump of torment. Before it knew what straw had hit its own humpface, that sad black metal panda camel’s dream was over.
But with each dying camel, comes a new dawn. For although the fearsome depressive entity that was Sad Panda was over, three new projects erupted in its wake, as each of its members went in their own new directions. Again, Ailuropoda Melancholia:
“We had said all we had to say about pandas, really, so there was no real reason for the project to be continuing. To be sure, pandas are being the very sad creatures. But there are being other creatures that also have the sadness. Not quite as sad, maybe, but certainly worth the exploring, you know? Like, fuck, you know those little monkeys that aren’t even monkeys? They have those moustaches? Must be pretty unhappy being one of those fuckers.”
Ailuropoda Melancholia’s solo project, ‘Disappointed Marmoset’ was the first to see the light of day. Not at all black metal, let alone depressive blackened suicidal black metal, ‘Disappointed Marmoset’ has more of a ‘dark ambient depressive folk’ feel about it, and, for once, you can understand what he’s saying. Which, depending on whether or not you like it, is either a good or a bad thing, based on your own judgments and priorities, depending on your personal tastes, aesthetic connections, and point of view.
Like a black phoenix rising straight out of Hell, smelling of sulphur and looking a little like a cross between an albatross and a partridge, a few years later Chaosbear’s own solo project appeared. And, like a cross between an albatross and a partridge, Chaosbear’s project would’ve perplexed ornithologists around the world, had any ornithologists of note been at all interested in the ex-members of Sad Panda, and their musical exploits. Which, thankfully for the publishers of ‘What Bird is That’, ‘What’s that Bird’, and ‘Ornithologist’s Quarterly’, they weren’t.
Chaosbear’s solo project ‘ETERNAL CANDLESHADOW OF THE NEKRODEMONCHALICE (Faces The True Desolation Of Sacrificial Grimskulls In The Moonforest Of The Thronegoat)’ is, believe it or not, still strictly black metal. As he says:
“Fuck you if you don’t like it. Who cares what you think anyway? Fuck you. FUCK YOU.”
But by far the most curious of the solo projects birthed from the grim nekromother that was the splitting up of Sad Panda, and raised by the spooky voidnanny that was the following few years between then and now, must be Bambucifer’s ‘BLACKSOIL’. In his own words:
“Well, I was thinking that I really was enjoying playing bass, making the musics, you know, the whole making-of-the-music process. So that had to fucking stop. There are no fucking instruments in Blacksoil, that’s for sure.”
Blacksoil is nothing but recordings of Bambucifer turning his compost. Bambucifer again:
“It’s more of a gardening project, really. But it certainly has more of the decay and the dirt and the fucking stench in it than Sad Panda ever had. It may be the truest art I have ever created. And it’s one I play live every fucking day – to nobody.”
Whether or not you were ever a fan of Sad Panda, had only heard of them in whispered rumours, or are reading this going ‘what the FUCK is this? this isn’t about pandas at ALL’, one thing is for certain – you exist. And, as much as your existence is perhaps the only thing you can ever truly know for sure, so too the one thing that can ever truly be known about Sad Panda, is that they exist no longer. Yet, like some kind of three-bodied pandazombie from beyond the grave, Sad Panda refuses to die. Perhaps. Just perhaps.
SAD PANDA(STARES INTO THE ABYSS) VIDEO EDIT
A rare cassette cover from a 1997 live recording
PHOTOS OF SAD PANDA IN THEIR GLORY DAY
PART TWO - THE STORY CONTINUES - NEXT WEEK