Five Years Running

You just don't get it, Schwarzenegger -- ArnoCorps will mock you. That's what it does. That's all it does.

We have interrupted Holzfeuer in the midst of his training. “You know, when you called, I was just practicing my vocal exercises over here, that I learned in the Vienna Boys Choir — exactly,” explains the gregarious ArnoCorps frontman. He holds the phone at arm’s length, takes a deep breath, and demonstrates. “GUHHHHHHHHHHOHHHH. That is the high right dere. YUHHHOHHHHHH!!!!!!! That’s the low. And right at the midrange, YOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Impressive. Time to reacquaint yourself with ArnoCorps, six titanium-gluted East Bay gentleman in army fatigues who speak in patently absurd Austrian accents and play punk tunes entitled “Commando,” “True Lies,” and “Terminator.” Sample lyrics:

Nice night for a walk!

Nothing clean, right?

Your clothes, give them to me!

Fuck you, asshole!

I am the Terminator!

I’ll be back to kill you later!

Holzfeuer’s crew has spent nearly five years reclaiming timeless Austrian folk tales like “Collateral Damage” and “Raw Deal.” These accounts of valor and bravery were passed down by generations of Austrian campfire storytellers (including Holzfeuer’s own great-grandmother), but sadly, many have been shamelessly exploited and transformed into hollow Hollywood blockbusters by Arnold Schwarzenegger — action movie hero, hilariously ineffectual governor, and evidently, wanton bastardizer of timeless Austrian folk tales.

ArnoCorps’ five-year run is surprising consider the band’s, ah, limited subject matter. The boys have faced many other hardships — a disgruntled former bandmate once formed a spinoff rival band, Schwarzenshriver, which concentrated on less manly Austrian tales of valor (“Twins,” “Kindergarten Cop”), but self-destructed after one mercifully brief equipment-trashing Stork Club gig. Meanwhile, ArnoCorps spent the first three months of ’05 on a pilgrimage back to Austria, roaming the same South Tyrol mountainside their ancestors had, a spiritual awakening that left them “completely renewed in our enthusiasm for these ancient stories,” Holzfeuer recalls. This spiritual awakening inspired the sextet’s debut CD, appropriately titled The Greatest Band of All Time (out on the band’s own Exactly Records). And now, as a celebration of the band’s half-decade run looms in February ’06, ArnoCorps plays out occasionally, invigorating the marshmallow choirboys of Oakland with their expertly honed Action-Adventure Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Last Sunday’s Stork Club gig was one such inspiring event.

The hoedown was an enormous, all-day, 3,500-band bill sired by Rawkmom, a thirties-ish “Single Mom, Double Rawker, and Triple Threat” (according to her MySpace page) who orchestrated an entire Thanksgiving potluck spread while providing one of the show’s highlights as frontwoman for the East Bay pop-punk crew Dynamite 8. She lurched tumultuously around the Stork, flinging glasses of alcohol in every direction and sporting black shorts with “Bomb Shell” printed on the ass, unfazed by her matching knee brace. The pumpkin pie-addled crowd soaked it up — the band’s half-hour set was 3,500 times more fun than an Interpol gig.

But no one shows up Holzfeuer. “It was a true test for ArnoCorps,” he recalled a few days later. “If we can make all these pumpkin-assed people who’d been dere since 3 p.m. still go crazy, hey, that is an achievement right dere.” A fantastic achievement it was, dere. Holzfeuer kicked off the band’s set by bending his mic stand (wrapped in barbed wire, mind you) — in half, before leading a spirited rendition of “Predator” — I’m here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Come on! Do it now! Run! Get to the chopper! he bellowed in his midrange voice.

My favorite tune remains “Total Recall,” with its anthemic Get your ass! Get your ass to Mars! chorus, but “Running Man” was the show’s undeniable gonzo moment, Holzfeuer rumbling through the crowd and forcing shy patrons to do the Running Man dance, as bassist Toten Adler leapt around and clung to the Stork’s ceiling as though it were, in fact, the chopper. His freedom of movement is aided by ArnoCorps’ new two-guitarists/two-bassists instrumental lineup, an ideal arrangement the band has dubbed “Heroic Symmetry.” Drummer Gellen Adler, meanwhile, regaled us with his famed Wheel of Pain drum solo, a sonic distillation of his hard-luck childhood as the wheel-pushing slave of nefarious Austrian strudel-makers.

Good stuff.

“It has been two whole years,” Holzfeuer marveled to me afterward, harkening back to our last formal interview. “And in that time, we have gained more discipline than ever. Our glutes have reached the point where they are hard enough that we can crack walnuts on them regularly.” He informed the Stork crowd of this on multiple occasions, in fact. But such boasting is unnecessary. In contrast to Governor Schwarzenegger himself — who got his ass handed to him by a bunch of nurses and schoolteachers — ArnoCorps remains dominant, rousing, and thoroughly hilarious. Pumpkin-assed special interests everywhere remain paralyzed with fear.

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