Punk-spirited marching band Mucca Pazza emerged from a street protest against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but they’ve evolved into a group with mainstream appeal. With a rambunctious crowd of more than 30 members (including their own cheerleaders), frenetic patchwork tunes, and a kitschy sense of humor, they’ve won over audiences at Lollapalooza, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and Late Night With Conan O’Brien among others in their 13 years as a band.
This Friday Mucca Pazza release the EP Trick or Treat, recorded at Electrical Audio in September 2016. To celebrate, they’ve produced a video for the song “Mr. Spider Goes Home to Spiderland.” Composed by founding reedist David E. Smith, the track alternates between demure, melancholy strings and robust full-band action worthy of a Bond movie. “Dave has this knack for writing pieces that sound immediately familiar yet fresh,” says Mucca Pazza artistic director and accordionist Ronnie Kuller. “Our guitarist, Charlie Malave, thought it would be fun to make a video where we have Dave play a sort of Harold Lloyd-esque cartoon antihero. Mr. Spider could be thought of as Spider-Man’s lesser-known but determined uncle, who was imprisoned for mysterious reasons and is making his way home across a landscape fraught with various ridiculous dangers.”
Filmed by Logan Hall and Ben Chandler and edited by Chandler, the video jumps back and forth from black-and-white to garish color and from live action to cartoony animation—sort of a contemporary DIY answer to Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Illustrator Landis Blair drew backdrops for the initial escape scene, while Malave collaborated on additional artwork and props—including the Seussian cardboard instruments the band “play” in the video—with Lily Emerson, a self-described “creative weirdo” he’d worked with in mobile community-arts organization Opera-Matic (whose executive director, Mark Messing, cofounded Mucca Pazza). “The band loved playing the cardboard instruments,” says co-founder and cheerleader Sharon Lanza. “But keep in mind these are people who can entertain themselves for hours throwing a Frisbee at empty beer bottles on a country lane.”
On Sunday, October 29, a couple days after Trick or Treat comes out, Mucca Pazza make their sixth consecutive appearance at the annual Logan Square kids’ Halloween parade, which starts at the west end of Palmer Square Park around 5 PM and heads north on Kedzie. The parade ends at Lula Cafe, where everyone is invited for cookies and cider.