Underground Diaries, Part 21
Covering tribute bands gave us a break from writing and producing music to accompany the vids. It also gave me the opportunity to get all academic. Of course, I didn’t exploit that opportunity, preferring instead to riff on sex clown make-up and ass-less chaps. (And yes, I know, all chaps are ass-less.)
Dear Original Bands of Today,
Get your buck cherry, sequin-skinned freak on. Wear sex clown make-up and ass-less chaps (unless you’re, like, Motorhead, then DO NOT wear ass-less chaps). Play rococo leads on multi-neck guitars (throwing in one—and only one—gratuitous mandolin riff to show you know what the little neck is for). Do awkward split jumps and windmill guitar strums. And excrete fluids. How and what fluids you excrete is your business. But just go mental on fluid excretion… Give tribute bands of tomorrow something to work with today.
Yes, writing good songs helps. As does playing well. But they’re hardly necessary. I’d see a Milli Vanilli tribute in a heartbeat and they didn’t write, sing or play. Nor must you. Look at the Sex Pistols. Pretty much all they truly excelled at was sneering. All right, and heroin. But it was the sneering that made them. And I’m not just talking about Sid Vicious’ trademark lip curl (which led to Billy Idol’s subsequent trademark infringement). I mean the big gestalt sneer, the #$@!-everyone attitude. That’s what has ensured future employment for tribute bands like The Sex Pistols Experience. Now all they have to do is to continue acting like jerks onstage.
Should you and your original band prefer not to behave like nasty junkies, though, there’s always nasty make-up. What would Kiss have been without the Cats make-up? All you have to do is recall the time in their career when they didn’t wear it… See what I mean? Now imagine Minikiss without make-up. The band would look like any other group of little people dancing around onstage, singing along with pre-recorded Kiss music while wearing studded codpieces and platform boots. Which brings me to the subject of nasty costumes. I like them.
Too A.D.D. to apply mascara and marabou? Play limited edition instruments. That way, O.C.D. tribute bands will be able to obsess the hours away on eBay tracking down exact replicas of your instruments. It may also provide tribute bands a reason for continuing to use corny names (like Led Zepplica, say, or every other tribute band name in the world).
Now, there are those original artists among you who are going to inspire impersonators, regardless. That doesn’t mean you can’t show some initiative anyway. Look at Elvis. He didn’t have to do anything! He was the King! Yet he selflessly gave tribute artists all sorts of material. He was always willing to make a spectacle of himself. When he got bored with being a handsome, pelvis-gyrating crooner, he became a bloated pill freak and wore campy rhinestone leisure suits. Now that’s going the extra mile for future tribute artists.
Need more ideas? If you’re a dude, try being asinine (or more asinine). Like, wear knickers, knee socks and a beanie and march around the stage like an addled drum majorette. This might feel strange now. But check out ACDShe and tell me the chick marching around in the schoolboy uniform isn’t hot. Same with the one doing Angus. Watching her was the first time I’ve ever been impressed by all the macho posturing. Not to mention the tight jeans.
And if you just can’t pull it together to do anything other than be sloppy hippies, at least do that well. Wear tie-dye and jam all the time. That way, you’ll have enough trustafarians in your fan base that, even after you’ve O.D.’d or done whatever you’re going to do to screw up the best gig you ever had, you’ll at least be assured that some of your old fans go on tripping to your music. Not that I know of anyone who trips at Grateful Dead tributes. But I did see people at Cubensis shows with the spins. (Incidentally, Cubensis and their fans rock!)
Anyway. Original bands, whatever it is that you do decide to do, make sure it has legs. Make sure you can live with seeing yourself mimicked in perpetuity. After all, there’s a very real chance your tribute bands will be together long after your original band is dust in the wind.
Tribute Bands of Tomorrow
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