“I am going to sing about aliens, puppets and trains.”
That’s the modus operandi of David Liebe Hart, a Los Angeles musician, puppeteer, actor, painter and alleged extraterrestrial liaison. He’s bringing his traveling show back to Mac’s Bar Saturday, with a new musical direction driven by electronic artist Th’Mole. One of Hart’s puppets, the precarious Chip the Black Boy, whose voice is tinged with an unnerving falsetto, will also perform.
“We’ve been touring all over the United States, and he put a lot of my old songs to his electronic music. They sound really good,” Hart said.
Hart’s work is saturated by an intriguing weirdness; he’s managed to generate a following since the early ‘90s. Hart was well known among the Los Angeles outsider art community for his bizarre street performances and his Christian Science-themed public access television show. His irreverent sing-songs and ventriloquism — which featured little in the way of hiding his lip movement — developed his legend.
Hart hit a huge break for an outsider artist, becoming a regular guest on Adult Swim’s “Tim & Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job!” The show, notable for a mind-numbing, ultra ironic brand of humor predating internet meme culture, was a natural fit for Hart.
“That generation is looking at their parents and they’re like, 'Wow, my parents have worked hard their whole lives and what has it gotten them? They lost their house, they have no pension — things are worse than ever,’” frequent Hart-collaborator Adam Papagan explained.
“I think that speaks to ‘Tim and Eric’s’ aesthetic of just being like, ‘Oh, everything is so silly. Everything is so absurd, nothing can be trusted.’ That’s why it struck a nerve with people.”
While the aloof, disaffected humor of “Tim & Eric” is the product of numerous social influences, Hart’s style has no real father. The artwork of Hart exists based on visions entirely his own; Hart’s humor matching up with a massive trend of ironic comedy is arguably just an amazing coincidence. And he’s reaping the benefits of having an audience that craves more “post-everything” art and entertainment.
“I was very honored to work with them,” Hart said.
Papagan, who also worked in Los Angeles Public Access Television, befriended Hart in 2008 and together they formed the David Liebe Hart Band. Working with a figure like Hart was a unique experience for an aspiring musician such as Papagan.
“David has one of the most unique perspectives probably of anyone on the planet. So we started writing songs together, and it was just a really fruitful collaboration,” Papagan said.
Ultimately, the pair formed a band and wrote a series of strong power-pop songs. Papagan didn’t settle for making toneless music for Hart to rant over. The David Liebe Hart Band was a strong rock outfit and Papagan got Hart to belt out properly sung vocals.
There’s an obvious sense of humor, given Hart’s penchant for singing about telepathic experiences with aliens and insect women, but it wasn’t outright abstract-for-the-sakeof-being abstract music.
“I thought like, 'All right, if the music is weird and this guy is weird — black doesn’t show up on black,'” Papagan said.
The confusion over what exactly goes on in Hart’s head is part of the appeal.
“That’s what makes him an intriguing character — the mystery about him. There’s no way to get to the bottom of it really,” Papagan said.
For Papagan, artists like Hart reveal a double standard in the music industry.
“If David was younger; if he was white and good looking, and if he was more of a traditional rock star guy — his crazy behavior, you wouldn’t even be talking about it.
If I was Slash, you wouldn’t be asking me, ‘Axl Rose, is he aware of what he’s doing?’”
David Liebe Hart Saturday, Sept. 29
7 p.m. All Ages $10 Mac’s Bar 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing www.macsbar.com (517) 484 6795