Rock Me Like a Schwarzentruber (The Return of Amish Speed Metal)


By Larry Wiebe

Fans of bhangra-tinged Amish speed metal will be wetting themselves at the long-anticipated, longer-feared reunion of Phil Harris & the Teflon Starfish.

The new album is called "Bite the Hamster," and it's everything we thought might happen. After Phil's now-legendary onstage breakdown at Fjordfest '95 in Oslo, critics predicted the band would never perform together again, even in cages.

But those who've followed the Starfish in their many permutations over the ensuing years will welcome Harris' butter-churning flat-brimmed black-hatted return.

It's been a long road back for the one-time Flesh Monkey front man.

After years of rehab and intensive neoJungian tetherball therapy following his incarceration, Phil began to resurrect his career early last year with a few well-received cameo appearances as the mysterious barn-raising cow tipper on the FOX reality show *Impotent Gigolos.*


With the public's interest piqued, he followed those up with an only moderately impaired appearance at a Yuki & the Electric Panda Factory concert in Liverpool and, more notably, a magnificent (though severely impaired) cover of "Let the Sister Attack" on the recent tribute album to Japanese Indie band Bump of Chicken.

Harris' vocals are still as rugged as a Lancaster County pine bench and are often compared to a young Buster Poindexter crossed with an old David Johansen with a bad cold and a limp. If anything, his voice has only gotten crunkier and spongier with the passing of time, not unlike a salt-glazed butter urn left out in the sun. No more the incoherent ramblings of a euthanized squirrel that characterize some of the early Starfish recordings.

Combined with the near-psychotic drumming of Welsh legend Nic Sauvage, the muscular syncopation of bassist Gern "the Gern" Matthews, the gelatinous virtuosity of lead guitarist Thorax, all held together by the manic energy of Raj Cohen on the electric sitar, the 'Fish have created a Biblical manhood and layered wall of noise that "Zebra Fetish" could only hint at.

Diehard fans might be disappointed by the infusion of Sufi lyrics into what had heretofore been a strictly Kabbalah outfit, but the 13-minute mock-rock operatic "Thus Spake Spinoza" will have even the most hardcore Fishheads bleeding from the eyeballs and reaching for the ginseng. Mazal Tov!

In other music news, the Stuttering Weasels have fired their aromatherapist and will begin their world tour of Belgium in October. Oy vey!


Anonymous | 08:12 am on 6/18/2008

No comments yet.. Hmmm... wonder why..

christine | 05:20 am on 3/13/2011

We've all just been chatting about this, it's really good we think.

izza301 | 01:59 am on 4/15/2011

I wanted to see them perform together on stage again Hoping..Glitec UK   

Dee | 06:19 am on 4/19/2011

Are you kidding....this is hysterical! Great article...and i really want to hear some thrash-bangra! commercial cleaning London | wellington boots

Christopher | 08:20 am on 6/18/2008


Creditos | 01:38 am on 4/14/2011

About why there are no comments...probably :)

John | 08:40 am on 6/18/2008

Wait a second, I heard these guys before! They are amazing. Such great songs as "Wooden Furniture Or H***," "Anabaptist Unite!" and "Rock You Like The 17th Century."

Monster Truck Liturgy Guy | 09:08 am on 6/18/2008

They're the greates thing since that Hessidic Goth Band "Guns 'N Moses!"

John Blackman | 09:30 am on 6/18/2008

I lost all respect for them when they stopped painting their bling and dental grills black...

Anonymous | 10:28 am on 6/18/2008

Wonder if the bumper sticker on their tour buggy read "Born to Raise Barns."

SRebbe | 10:29 am on 6/18/2008

I think Weird Al said it best:
'tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699'

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Nice article...good going update some more information on this topic.
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Hellbound | 11:31 am on 6/18/2008

I recall their best CD, "Like a Bat Out of a Cornfield"

Mark R | 11:55 am on 6/18/2008

Could this be the reincarnation of Phil Harris, the big band leader of the 30's and 40's? If it is, he also starred in a radio situation comedy--the Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. Wow! Phil, you be careful out among them English.

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Eric | 12:53 pm on 6/18/2008

We're'nt these guys on VH1's "Behind the Music" last month? Or was the "Reuniting the Band"? I forget. But it is good to see them back. My 15-year-old son has recently become fond of Amish Speed Metal and I wanted to get him some classic stuff to listen to. That new-fangled ASM is simply to English...


Droslovinia | 03:24 pm on 6/18/2008

Daggone it! I don't think that this is a real band - and it so much should be!

budda | 04:48 pm on 6/18/2008

Try "The Electric Amish" they aren't speed metal, but they are a real band. Mostly classic rock with spoof amish lyrics.

Bullwinkle "the Moose-iah" | 05:36 pm on 6/18/2008

Have any death metal Christian bands played guitars yet in the shape of upside down crucifixes?

Sorry, didn't mean to type that, my only excuse being that I was hit in the head by a Bible once at a Stryper concert, and haven't been the same since.

Rob_s | 11:29 pm on 4/20/2011

LOL!!! your reply was hilarious!! I once attended such an event, but got hit by the same bible!! And now I now I speak like this :D

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mountainguy | 07:43 pm on 6/18/2008

Are they the ones of "peace buggy"? ohh... wait wait: it was actually "peace train".

mountainguy | 07:55 pm on 6/18/2008

And what about the Yoder brothers and their band AD/BC?

Angus Dei | 05:07 am on 6/19/2008

I don't know, I kinda liked their, "If This Buggy's Rockin', Don't Come a Knockin'."

Had a nice retro feel.

Happy Canuck | 09:05 am on 6/19/2008

How do they play their electric guitars without electricity I wonder? Do they pedal to the metal or just play "unplugged"?

budda | 11:36 am on 6/19/2008

I live near Ammo central in Northern Indiana. Depending on your local Parson, you can have electricity run to your barn or shop. Just not to the house. I know one Ammo furniture maker that had a public phone booth installed in front of his workshop.

SRebbe | 01:14 pm on 6/20/2008

the title got me thinking... how many hamsters would it take to power one guitar amplifier...?

budda | 03:12 pm on 6/20/2008

The kids get generators/electricity for bands to play at Rumshpringa parties. And to keep the kegs cold.

The rules are really all over the place, it doesn't help that there are a bunch of different sects, from very liberal Goshen College mennonites, (Goshen College is a great school, most of my lesbian friends have gone there at on time or another) to conservative Mennonites, (they have their own special dress code - think Amish dresses but they can wear prints and tennis shoes and doilies on their heads instead of bonnets and the men generally don't have beards) Dunkers, Brethren, and every flavor of anabaptist you can imagine.

One sect can own cars as long as they are painted black and don't have shiny hubcaps.

Amish can't hit with a closed fist, but they can slap each other. You haven't seen anything until you seen a couple of grown Amish men in a slap fight.

mountainguy | 06:54 pm on 6/20/2008

"You haven't seen anything until you seen a couple of grown Amish men in a slap fight"

Wow... I thought "slappers only" was just a mode for multiplayer in N64's "Goldeneye". It must be cool... hehehehehe (Beavis n' Butthead laugh style)

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More Anonymous Than You | 08:53 am on 6/23/2008
brother Jerome | 11:23 am on 7/04/2008

Great article. Isn't this all connected somehow to the great and wise Amish leader who once said, "Don't drink or drive?"

Cynth The Poet | 09:48 pm on 8/03/2008

Phshaw! That's nothing. If you want really righteous music, you can't quite beat Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival.

It may not be Amish, but you can't really go wrong with snake handling and calling Satan a c***ksucker.

lechroom | 03:20 am on 4/11/2009

Ah, screw Amish death metal. Hasidic garage punk is where it's at. When are we gonna get a piece on Mazeltov Cocktail's new album, "Havah Negilah, B****!"?

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samfer | 09:32 am on 4/11/2011

Bite the Hamster introduced new songs. Actually remix version of that old song is really nice.

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