Going beyond "Is your refrigerator running?" Some words with the infamous prank caller Longmont Potion Castle

The phone call begins with a seemingly harmless question: "Yeah, when does that Green Julius come out?" The Orange Julius employee on the other end tells the caller he knows nothing of a Green Julius, but the caller isn't satisfied. He asks if they carry a Raisin Julius, then a Grapefruit Julius, and the employee—becoming audibly more frustrated with the caller's inane questions—repeats: "No. No, we don't have Grapefruit Julius." Finally, the caller requests a Chowder Julius, which is apparently enough to push the young-sounding employee over the edge, and he barks back, "Dude. Shut the fuck up. You're a fucking idiot."

This short, 42-second prank phone call entitled 'Chowder Julius' is the seventh track on "Longmont Potion Castle Volume V," and one of 26 tracks of recorded prank phone calls on the album. Longmont Potion Castle, the pseudonym of an unidentified prank caller who has been bothering people and businesses (and recording it) for three decades, has since released another six albums following "Volume V" in 2005.

"I was on the phone as far back as I can remember; being a kid, calling radio and TV talk shows, contests, whatever was going on," LPC explains by email in October. "[I] then eventually started calling other people at random numbers. I heard a lot of weird things go down, spending days on the phone. Some people didn't believe it when I told them. I finally made a cassette demo in 1987 (with some tracks dating back to 1985). People said they really liked it, and that I should make more recordings. I decided to continue on, calling it Longmont Potion Castle, and the first album came out in 1988."  He maintains that his unusual alias was merely the product of free association.

Longmont Potion Castle remains one of the most predominant and most popular members of the cult genre of prank calling. And it's not only random numbers and local businesses he's dialing: LPC has also pranked the likes of Alex Trebek, Sidney Poitier, and Rick Derringer (though how exactly he obtains their phone numbers remains a mystery). Nearly 30 years after recording his first demo, Longmont Potion Castle recently announced he would finally be releasing the "Ultimate Session Bundle" this winter, a complete LPC anthology featuring every album, previously unreleased tracks, video footage (including two live concerts featuring LPC performing thrash metal), a bonus vinyl, and even a LPC t-shirt.

Describing his continued recording as a "spontaneous process," LPC cites a few reasons for keeping this project going for so long: "One is that whenever I have inspiration or an idea, I record it. Then I usually schedule other recording sessions in order to complete a new album. Another thing is that people have been vocal about wanting this project to continue."

When asked if he gets at all nervous making celebrity calls, he concedes that sometimes it gets a little intimidating—though that doesn't stop him, of course. "Honestly, if I don't like the way I sound, it doesn't get used," he writes. "Or I do it over. I just try to get into the 'zone.' I remember talking to GG Allin made me nervous, but I don't think it sounds that way."

I joked that I often get nervous even calling to place a delivery order, and LPC concurred: "I know what you mean about food. I really like pizza a lot. But sometimes it is very difficult to get. It's no coincidence that 'deliver' is 'reviled' spelled backwards. Those pizza people can go from friendship material to enemy material real quick."

Some of the funniest (and perhaps most artful) tracks feature LPC using a delay panel to change his voice or create weird sound effects to further confuse the shit out of those on the other end of the line. But LPC says he doesn't feel bad for even those individuals that pick up the phone and turn out to be puzzlingly patient and kind. "I would be surprised if half the people even remembered it, really. I rarely feel any ambivalence about it. It's sort of like how a lot of people will ask, 'How'd you get my number?' Like, what makes you so special? Why would I be on the lookout for you? It's so random."

Some, however, aren't so patient. LPC admits that his goal used to be "to incite the most brutal verbal abuse for the most pointless reason."

"And it does still happen," he writes. "But there are a lot of other tracks that differ from that, that still capture some sort of gripping moments, I think. The proof is in the recording." LPC did confess that many people who claim they're going to call the police or the phone company (or, in one track, the District Attorney) aren't always simply spouting empty threats, but he isn't worried.

"People definitely call the police, left and right," he writes. "But I usually just hop the offense, is what I do. It's kind of like my thing.”

Much of LPC's popularity is due in part to his presence within the metal music scene. LPC credits some of his fame to various musicians passing around his recordings. Though he's not in a live band at the moment, LPC is a metal musician himself, and has toured and recorded in the band Abdomen, among other musical projects. Even though he's public about his musical pursuits, he still remains pretty anonymous when it comes to his identity as the infamous prank caller, though he does admit he "came up and signed someone's guitar on stage once." He runs a full-service recording studio, Noise Tent 8, as well as a record label named D.U. Records. He even has an album entitled "Metal Interludes" available on Spotify under the Longmont Potion Castle artist name.

And LPC's got a Baltimore connection too: Back in 2004, he was asked to record a split 7-inch for Baltimore's Reptilian Records alongside the Baltimore-based death-metal band Hatebeak, a band famous for its incorporation of "avian vocals" on its tracks.

"Vince from Hatebeak confirmed that the vocalizing on their records was in fact done by his then-girlfriend's parrot, Waldo. I guess whenever she would leave the house, the bird started static with him," LPC recalls. He recorded two thrash-metal songs for his side of the album, which quickly sold out soon after its release. Following the success of the split record, Reptilian Records looked beyond just his musical talent and took note of the cult-following LPC had amassed through his absurdist phone calls, and eventually asked that he record a full album of prank calls for the label.

Unfortunately, if you're reading to unearth the true identity of the infamous Longmont Potion Castle, you won't find it here. Even with his 30-year existence and an anthology due out, LPC isn't interested in any big reveal.

"I have done that in person lots of times," he writes. "I won't name any names, sorry."

So he remains: the harmless Zodiac of prank calling. And after realizing that my email signature during our correspondence included my own phone number, I can say my fingers are crossed that I might one day get a call from "Dusty Staccato" or "Gomez" or "Dirk Funk" myself.

Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy
77°