Clinton McKinnon (musician)

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Clinton McKinnon
Umlaut Bar McKInnon.jpg
Background information
Birth nameClinton McKinnon
Also known asBär McKinnon
Born (1969-12-24) 24 December 1969 (age 51)
Crescent City, California
GenresExperimental, experimental rock, avant-garde, pop, rock and roll, ska punk, metal
InstrumentsSaxophone, keyboards, various woodwind instruments and vocals
Years active1986–present
LabelsAmphead (Distribution), Romero Records
Associated actsMr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvind Kang, Barefoot Hockey Goalie, UMLAUT

Clinton "Bär" McKinnon (born 24 December 1969) is an American musician, perhaps best known for being a saxophonist in San Francisco based band Mr. Bungle.

Bär, pronounced "bear", is a childhood nickname, given to him by his older sisters. In 1989 Bär joined Mr. Bungle and studied music at Humboldt State University, where he met Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance.[1] His primary instrument is the saxophone, but he plays a number of other instruments including flute, keyboards, guitar, drums, percussion, bass and other assorted woodwinds.

He was a member of Mr. Bungle from 1989 to their disbandment in 2000, and has written and performed with Secret Chiefs 3, Dieselhed and Humboldt County hip hop/reggae/rock fusion band Lakota. He has also appeared on the Melt-Banana album Charlie, on the Carl Hancock Rux album Rux Revue, on the Ray's Vast Basement album On the Banks of the Time, on the Eyvind Kang's album The Story of Iceland and on the Barefoot Hockey Goalie album One Part Thomas Edison. Bär McKinnon is currently gigging around Melbourne with a band called Umläut.

Mr. Bungle[edit]

Mr Bungle's lead singer Mike Patton had by the start of the 1990s achieved success in mainstream rock and metal with his other band Faith No More, which ultimately helped secure Mr. Bungle a record deal with Warner Bros. The band released a self-titled album (produced by John Zorn) in 1991, followed by the highly surreal Disco Volante in 1995. Their third album was California. As a multi-instrumentalist, Bär provided a distinct style both as a player and songwriter, most notably on California. The album takes inspiration from Burt Bacharach and The Beach Boys, influences close to Bär's heart. The album allowed more freedom for all members of Bungle in the songwriting process. California blended lounge, pop, jazz, funk, thrash metal, Hawaiian, Middle Eastern, kecak and avant-garde music.[2] The band did 5 tours to support this record. For the most part, perhaps with the exception of the Sno-Core 2000 tour where they were often booed, the band did have success attracting an audience.[3][4] The main three members of Mr. Bungle (Patton, Spruance, and Dunn) reunited in 2020 to record a fourth album, which McKinnon did not take part in.[5]


Umlaut is an experimental progressive band based out of Melbourne, Australia. It is the culmination of years of work for McKinnon. Umlaut’s eclectic musical stylings reside in the same vein as McKinnon’s previous bands Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3- injecting an energetic and whimsical blend of pop, jazz, avant-garde metal, symphonic atmosphere and electronica into its sound.[6]  

When Mr. Bungle officially disbanded, Bär was left with a mountain of material he had written for the band, so he decided to apply it towards a solo venture.[6]  Many of his Umlaut bandmates found him based on his prior music affiliations.  According to McKinnon: "Melbourne is a very hip place as far as music and musicians and there’s no shortage of good musos so I’m super lucky that I ended up here, it just made the most sense. Musos sought me out, perhaps on the back of Bungle’s notoriety, I mean who knew a Mr Bungle member was living in Melbourne?”[7]

Despite seeing many incarnations and line-up changes through the years, Umlaut has found a comfortable niche in the Melbourne music scene and continues to attract dedicated fans both locally and internationally.

The band has accompanied comedian Neil Hamburger as well as Secret Chiefs 3 on their various tours in Australia.[6]

Band members

  • Bär McKinnon- tenor sax, flute, clarinet, keyboards, guitar, lead vocals
  • Angus Leslie- guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Olaf Scott- keyboards
  • Hudson Whitlock- drums, percussion
  • Julian Langdon-bass
  • Shane Lieber- bass
  • Gareth Thompson- drums
  • John Myatt- bassoon
  • Rob McDonald- vibraphone
  • Pieta Hextall- bassoon

Guest performers:

  • Mike Patton- vocals (2009 album track "Atlas Face")
  • Matt Lieber- drums (2009 album)
  • Jeff Lieber- guitar (2009 album)[8]

Studio albums[edit]


Release Date: 10 October 2009 Label: Orchard

The album’s single "Atlas Face" features Mike Patton, Faith No More frontman and fellow Mr. Bungle bandmate, on lead vocals.

Review from Consequence of Sound: "Sporadic bursts of circus-themed noise. The sludgy guitar grind of heavy metal. Unpredictable blasts of horn instruments. There’s no denying the influence of Mr. Bungle in every note of Umlaut's self-titled album, and how can comparisons not be drawn when the band is the musical venture of Mr. Bungle's saxophonist Clinton "Bär" McKinnon. But though it's easy to see where McKinnon is drawing from, the Australian-based Umlaut is a wholly original project that takes a proven, experimental concept and makes it all its own".[9]

To Your Poverty Quietly Go[edit]

Release Date: 29 August 2014 Label: Romero Records/ Orchard

From MusicTrust: "Unlike the many other bands that seem bent on simply reveling in mad energy generated by constantly shifting and juxtaposing interludes and sections within the one 'song', there is a much higher level of compositional delicacy at play here. It’s obvious that Umlaut has thought long and hard about what should and shouldn’t go into the cauldron. The creation of multilayered textures on 'To Your Poverty Quietly Go' is something lacking in much of the music that gets made using a similar chop and change sensibility".[10]


Release date: 19 April 2019

Label: Romero Records.[11]

From Romero Records: "A very festive new EP from Umlaut, the brainchild of Bär McKinnon (Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3), 'Arunachala' is equal parts circus jazz, oddball pop and melancholic soundscapes. Sonny Rollins meets Brian Wilson, Pennywise the Clown and the Easter Bunny?"[12]


Release date: 31 October 2019

Label: Romero Records

From Romero Records: "Just six months after their Easter-themed EP 'Arunachala', more new music from Umlaut... and this time it's Halloween!

Meditative and charmingly addictive forays into experimental pop from the mind of Mr Bungle saxman Bär McKinnon, with some help from Melbourne legend Angus Leslie (Sex On Toast).

'Kintsugi' is more of a vocal affair than Umlaut's previous releases, think Bungle with a bit of Beach Boys, Beatles and Badalamenti."[13]


Mr. Bungle[edit]

Secret Chiefs 3[edit]


  • Umlaut (self-titled) (2009)
  • To Your Poverty Quietly Go (2014)
  • Arunachala (2019)

Songwriting credits[edit]

  1. Untitled[14]
  2. "After School Special" (words: Dunn/McKinnon/Patton, music: McKinnon) – 2:47
  3. "The Bends" (music: Patton/McKinnon/Spruance) – 10:28
    1. "Man Overboard"
    2. "The Drowning Flute"
    3. "Aqua Swing"
    4. "Follow the Bubbles"
    5. "Duet for Guitar and Oxygen Tank"
    6. "Nerve Damage"
    7. "Screaming Bends"
    8. "Panic in Blue"
    9. "Love on the Event Horizon"
    10. "Re-Entry"
  1. "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" (words: Patton music: Patton/McKinnon) – 3:55
  2. "Goodbye Sober Day" (words: Patton music: Patton/McKinnon) – 4:29
  • 2009- Umlaut (Self-Titled) (words/ music: McKinnon)
  • 2014- To Your Poverty Quietly Go (words/ music: McKinnon)
  • 2019- Arunachala (words/music: McKinnon)

Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Paluzzi, Nick (27 April 2004). "California Review". Ground and Sky. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  3. ^ Fernandez, Roger. "Mr. Bungle Biography". Bungle Grind. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
  4. ^ Fong, Erik (1–14 July 2003). "Trey Spruance Interview". Perfect Pitch Online. Archived from the original on 24 July 2003. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  5. ^ Sacher, Andrew (13 August 2020). "Mr. Bungle detail new version of 'The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny,' share a track". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Former Mr. Bungle Sax Player New Project, Umlaut, Release Debut Album". Music Feeds. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Umlaut". Music Feeds. 29 June 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Umlaut (3)". Discogs. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Album Review: Umlaut – Umlaut". Consequence of Sound. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  10. ^ "to your poverty quietly go". Loud Mouth – The Music Trust Ezine. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Umlaut 'Arunachala'". Romero Records. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Umlaut 'Arunachala'". Romero Records. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Kintsugi, by Umlaut". Romero Records. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  14. ^ This song is often titled "The Secret Song" (the working title of the song) or "Spy" (the title that appears on various concert setlists). Credits: words: Dunn, music: Uncredited (but assumed to be Patton/McKinnon/Spruance). Bungle Fever FAQ