Billy BASStard, 1st iteration

This horrible toy was purchased when they first arrived on the scene in March of 2000 while I was on tour with Negativland as their sound guy for the True/False 2000 tour. We were on our way back to California after 6 weeks of touring the US, tired, cranky, and ready to be home, when at a nondescript gas station/convenience mart in Colorado we groggily stumbled upon a pyramidal pile of these loathsome creatures. Needless to say, we were giddy and laughed our asses off at the cheezy-music-spewing and animated-mouth fish-things. Three of us purchased the damn things (at $30 each, too!!!) and I began to muse how I could make it "better."
Of course, freeing the poor fish from its plaque was paramount, as well as consolidating its electronix into a smaller package.

So, I ripped the thing apart, rewired the fish's motors to a long 8-wire ethernet cable, crossing the wires to make the animated fish gasp and thrash as it sang its horrible songs, "Take Me to the River" and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" (What were they thinking?). In fact, here is a video some genius has posted of an unmodified Billy Bass working.
I added the long cable so when I perform with the thing, I can throw it into the audience. The rubber the manufacturers used for the fish is quite realistically slimy (tho dry) and with this and the gasping and twitching many an audience member couldn't handle handling it...
In addition, I was able to re-house the electronix into a single Altoid can with another can stacked on top for the additions I added: a slide switch for normal/modified, a really fast-speed momentary switch, a potentiometer with a cool old computer keyboard key as a knob for dialing in amount of modification, a re-trigger momentary switch, a copper screw mounted on a spring as a human contact resistance point, 1/4"output, and I used the included optical resistor (for triggering the beast when someone walks by) for additional noise control/generation.
The sounds this gadget makes are extreme pitch bends of the existing songs, from lo-bit strung-out noise to really fast variations, with addtional noise input via the human contact resistance point and optical resistor.
"But what's with the stripey costume?" you ask...
There was a show I did called the Tentacle Sessions in which a performer/artist/weirdo was featured once a month to show off the stuff he/she did. Mine was #25 on August 19, 2001. 2 hours of mayhem. Click on the link for more info and some Mp3s of the show. In the second hour, I, as Prof. Werner V. Slack hosted a DIY show called "Slack Can Hack" in which I demonstrated how to do circuit modifications/bending which culminated in "The Billy BASStard Barbershop Quartet," 4 modified Billy Basses (two by me, a midi-controlled one by Peter Washburn (index of The Univac Index), and a frightening witch-thing on a rocking chair one by dAs). My wife Alley designed and made the great barbershop quartet costumes for all the fish, and we let 'em rock for 10 minutes of noisy fun.
Oh, the "I [heart] fucked-up noise" button came from a Negativland fan somewhere along the way. Thanks!
Completed: Late 2000
Dimensions: Fish, appx. 12" long (a keeper), Altoids boxes 3.5" x 2.5" x 3" (including modifications)
Current Status:

Functional and waiting patiently in its case on the shelf. The control box does need a little "work," aesthetically and otherwise...

Audio Bits:


BillyBASSWorry.mp3 Here is the horrible song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" with all mods thruout.

BillyBASSOptRiver.mp3 "Take Me to the River" with optical control madness.