Reaction was as swift as it was negative to Friday’s surprise release of a new record from Animal, former drummer of pioneering rock band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and original cast member of “The Muppet Show.”
The record “Finally Me” features a stripped-down sound in which Animal, abandoning his frantic playing style and grunt-based vocals, plays all instruments.
“I just think I’d taken the whole crazy-man vibe as far as it could go,” Animal said in an exclusive interview with MMW News Service. “I’m 57. I can’t go running around eating cymbals the rest of my life.”
The artist who brought the world classics like “Me Drum” and “RRRRRAAAHHHRRR” has opted for a more contemplative mood this time around, such as on the mid-tempo album opener “Going Home to You” about missing his family on the road or the sorrowful ballad “Who Put this Chain on Me?” The only hint of the old Animal is the somewhat fast diss track, aimed at a certain frog from Animal’s past, “It Ain’t Easy Being Orange Either!”
“These are songs I’ve had in my heart for a long time, but I just felt stifled by my former band and my former persona,” Animal said. “That old me…it wasn’t me! It was an act. I’m not always a raging lunatic. I have feelings! I have a…OK, technically I don’t have a heart because I’m a Muppet, but you get the idea.”
Rolling Stone reviewer Chase Freeman said the album was one of the worst of the year and asked “How many fond childhood memories died today?” Blabbermouth’s review was one sentence: “11 songs, 37 minutes, 1 giant turd basket.” Loudwire insisted it was the “New Coke” of the 21st Century – so intentionally awful as to cause immediate demand for the original to return. “If it is a serious effort, then it is like being invited to a party where one of your friends takes a turbo dump on the hardwood floor and everyone else talks about how they wish other artists would be so brave.”
By noon, #AnMalSeizure was trending on Twitter accompanied by a record-number of frowny-face emojis.
Cohorts were also quick to criticize.
“We toured with DTEM back in ’84,” said original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. “They were massive. We’d be out in the alley next to our creaky old tour bus signing autographs for like six people and then I’d see Animal and the boys dart for their limos with a thousand screaming girls about 30 feet behind. I know his career has been a little down since then but, man, I didn’t think he’d sink this far.”
Tool stickman Danny Carey said he’d heard rumors of the record months ago.
“We use some of the same sound guys he did and one of them said Animal was using brushes on several songs. BRUSHES!” Carey said. “I just think his new agent, the Swedish Chef, is giving him bad advice.”
Despite the controversy Animal is hitting the road, beginning a 32-city tour Aug. 3 as the opening act on the Air Supply reunion tour.