Carbon H (Aha!) was one of the leading bands during Philadelphia's "Shit" music scene of the mid 1990's.
The group featured Crunty P on vocals, and a kazoo section that featured Roy Truckstein and JJ Battleduck (along with ten other kazooists who neglected to give their names and rarely contributed to songwriting). Their success and influence surpassed that of any other "Shit" band with the exception of scene originators Boing, which gave Carbon H (Aha!) a reputation as the "Number two band in the number two music." Carbon H (Aha!) were also the most politically motivated "Shit" band, although their lyrics were mostly in gibberish and made absolutely no sense.
Their first release, 1996's "One Night Under the Stars," was released almost immediately after Boing's "Ring of Shit." The album was characterized by Crunty P's inimmitable babbling and JJ Battleduck's heartwrenching solos. Live, the band were also a treat, with Crunty P's various original dances finely complementing the band's energized sound.
In the same year, the band put together another full-length LP, "So, That's Your Little Game." Initial fears that fans would be put off by the album's otherworldly production and lengthy running time proved to be unfounded: The LP's success eclipsed that of its predecessor and made Carbon H (Aha!) one of the most promising bands to come out of Swarthmore. While never released as a single, the Country/Shit hybrid "Don't You Touch My Forearms Again" made a stirring impression on the Pennsylvania tape-trading network, and gave the rest of the album a healthy buzz early on. The ensuing tour was also highly successful, with the band playing increasingly bigger venues as their trek continued. JJ Battleduck was at this point extending his kazoo solo to the fifteen minute mark, creating what he would only describe as an "impressionistic milestone."
And then things became shakey. On the last night of the tour, Crunty P reportedly got into a physical altercation with JJ Battleduck, severely bruising Battleduck's left arm. Crunty P insisted that he was "only joking around." Production on their new album dragged on endlessly, with three different producers being hired along the way. Each producer (none of whom would give his name) was fired by Truckstein before he would finish the album's production himself. The band booked only two gigs during this period, and was forced to cancel both of them. No explanation was given. As the album neared completion, it was announced that JJ Battleduck was leaving the band and would not tour with them.
When "Taupy Taupy Taupy Nnnghh-Ah Grmph Grmph Dig!" was finally released in late 1998, the "Shit" scene had all but evaporated. While the LP received strong reviews, it simply failed to make an impact. To make matters worse, the remaining fans had little urge to see the band without Battleduck, and doubted that the remaining kazooists could fill in for his parts.
Nevertheless, the scaled-down tour was a relative success. The band had lost none of their onstage charisma, and had no trouble drawing sizable crowds into the smaller venues they were playing. At the end of the tour, Crunty P announced they were disbanding, citing a desire to "Go out on top."
In 1999, Crunty P joined Boing, who were also facing an early decline in fortunes. This attempt at turning the band into a "Shit Supergroup" proved unsuccessful, with most of the material being scrapped. Only one song, "I am Robin Hood," would ever see the light of day, appearing on the 2005 re-release of Boing's "Flash in the Can" compilation.
In an interview conducted after that album's re-release, Crunty P told reporters he had spent the previous six years doing "absolutely nothing."
JJ Battleduck continues to play the kazoo. He released a string of demos throughout the early 2000's, but none of them landed him a record deal. Recent reports indicate that he may have several more on the way.
Roy Truckstein moved to Jamaica in 2004, where he intends to study world music.
None of Carbon H (Aha!)'s music is available on CD, as most "Shit" bands were opposed to the digital age. A bootleg cassette-only compilation album was circulated in 2002. There has been much talk of an official Best Of (which would hopefully feature unreleased material), but nothing has surfaced yet.
Nonetheless, the band's legacy has remained untarnished. During their mid-nineties heyday, their name developed into an expression among fellow "Shit" bands. It signified, if nothing else, an element of moxy and a desire to constantly move forward.
"I think we all need some Carbon H (Aha!)."
"You know what we gotta give this? Carbon H (Aha!)."
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