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Josh Willis // Pizza Planet

6 Things We Learned from Pizza Planet, the Toy Story Punk Band

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Josh Willis // Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet is a "pizzacore" band from College Station, Texas. The duo consists of Josh Willis on drums and Nic Shields on guitar and vocals. Here's the twist: all their songs are based on the movie Toy Story. Indeed, even their name refers to the pizza/arcade in the movie.

In their first EP released on Bandcamp, Escape From Pizza Planet, the band's opening tune is "Snake In My Boot," referring to Woody's famous line when his string is pulled. Other songs include "Double Bypass Brain Surgery" (Sid's disassembly/torture of toys), "The Claw," "To Infinity," "And Beyond." (The last two songs are a little light on lyrics, with Shields simply hollering the song titles over grinding riffs.)

Here's a quick phone video of the band performing "Snake In My Boot":

It's not every day that you encounter a band so singly dedicated to its premise, and having such fun doing it. In order to understand more about Pizza Planet, mental_floss conducted an email interview last week. Here are some keepers, lightly edited for clarity.

1. THEY ARE TRUE FANS OF TOY STORY

mental_floss: How old were you guys when Toy Story came out?

Nic Shields: I was almost 2.

Josh Willis: I was 3? Maybe a late 2. It's definitely one of the first movies I remember watching.

mental_floss: When was the most recent time you saw Toy Story?

Shields: Probably 4 or 5 months ago.

2. THEY INVENTED "PIZZACORE"

mental_floss: ... Your Bandcamp page says [your band is] "pizzacore." Where does Pizza Planet fit in the world of musical genres?

Shields: ...We are definitely pizzacore. Which I believe is a genre we invented.

3. NEITHER BAND MEMBER IS A "BUZZ" OR A "WOODY"

mental_floss: Would you describe yourselves as more like Buzz or Woody? (And why?) Alternately, is there some other character is the Toy Story universe you really identify with?

Shields: I want to feel like I am Mr. Shark because I just make fun of everybody all the time and enjoy mockery in general. And that's exactly what this band is, mockery.

Willis: I really identify with Slinky, he's super sarcastic but also I have the ability to stretch my body to absurd lengths.

4. THEY PUT ZERO EFFORT INTO THIS BAND, AND THAT'S OKAY

mental_floss: The message of the Toy Story movies (especially Toy Story 2) seems to boil down to, effectively, "Accept your situation and enjoy it while you can." Does that message resonate with you?

Shields: (laughing) That's exactly how I feel about this band because we put zero effort into it. We play in serious bands that we put time and effort into, but everybody just cares about our joke Toy Story band. So I've just learned to take whatever comes and stop trying.

Willis: Yeah, I'm in the same spaceship as Nic [Shields] on this one. I have a lot of disdain toward this band because of how little effort I've put into it and how little I care compared to my serious band that I drop a lot of time and care into and write about stuff that is important to me. But I'm learning recently to just accept it and enjoy it while it lasts.

mental_floss: How long does it take to write a typical Pizza Planet song?

Shields: About twice as long as it takes to play it.

Willis: None of our songs are longer than 2 minutes I don't think. We usually practice maybe an hour a month. We weren't kidding when we said pretty much zero effort is put into this band.

5. AUDIENCES HAVE MOSHED TO PIZZA PLANET

mental_floss: What's the biggest audience you've ever played to, as Pizza Planet? How about the smallest?

Shields: Probably a little over 100, and smallest would probably be like 10.

Willis: Yeah, we played in a taco shop in Denton Texas called "Killers Tacos," there was probably 100+ people there. They were moshing and going crazy enough that we had to tell them to calm down because I could feel the floor moving underneath us.

mental_floss: Does the audience understand the whole Toy Story thing? Like, do you explain it to them first?

Shields: Absolutely, we treat them like children and walk them through every song we play.

Willis: Yeah, we usually will describe what each song is about from the movies and between almost every song say "All our songs are about Toy Story" so hopefully nobody has misunderstood.

6. MORE SONGS ARE COMING

mental_floss: Any plans to record more Pizza Planet songs?

Shields: Yeah!

Willis: Yeah, we just booked studio time with a friend of ours, we're going to re-record the original songs on our [EP Escape From Pizza Planet] plus some more songs. I think it'll be like 10-11 songs total.

mental_floss: Have you learned anything doing this project?

Shields: That hard work doesn't pay off and to not take anything too seriously.

Willis: Yeah definitely that I need to stop taking stuff as seriously with music. I'm just having a blast and doing stupid stuff with one of my best friends and if people are into it, whatever, and if they're not, who cares? I'm in a band that plays music about Toy Story and you're not. So yeah.

HOW TO FOLLOW THE BAND AND FIND THEIR MUSIC

For a bit more on the band and their dreams of getting a cease-and-desist order from Disney, read this article from The Daily Dot. Their Facebook page is a lot of fun, and their music is on Bandcamp.

We salute you, Pizza Planet—The Claw has chosen wisely.

(All images courtesy of Josh Willis, used with permission.)

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crime
German Police Tried to Fine Someone $1000 for Farting at Them
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Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for IMG

In Berlin, passing gas can cost you. Quite a lot, actually, in the case of a man accused of disrespecting police officers by releasing a pair of noxious farts while being detained by the police. As CityLab reports, Berlin’s police force has recently been rocked by a scandal hinging on the two farts of one man who was asked to show his ID to police officers while partying on an evening in February 2016.

The man in question was accused of disrespecting the officers involved by aiming his flatulence at a policewoman, and was eventually slapped with a fine of 900 euros ($1066) in what local media called the "Irrer-Pups Prozess," or "Crazy Toot Trial." The errant farter was compelled to show up for court in September after refusing to pay the fine. A judge dismissed the case in less than 10 minutes.

But the smelly situation sparked a political scandal over the police resources wasted over the non-crime. It involved 18 months, 23 public officials, and 17 hours of official time—on the taxpayers’ dime. Officials estimate that those two minor toots cost taxpayers more than $100, which is chump change in terms of city budgets, but could have been used to deal with more pressing criminal issues.

[h/t CityLab]

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In 1909, a Door-to-Door Catnip Salesman Incited a Riot in New York
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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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