Bands with Balls
Thanks to the new modern age of digital technology and distribution, there is a new breed of musicians, bands, artists, and vagabonds that are sticking it to the major labels the same way the cell phone did to Ameritech. There are many multi-international independent bands that you may not know but should. The way these artists get to the public has changed. The Web is the new underground, the new MTV. They’re a new breed of freak that can wake up with a libation, get on their better-than-your computer, and shame your Web site, mailing list, and global network. Gone are the days of artists like Iggy & The Stooges who had to wait twenty years for a decent payday because they were ahead of their time. Now the artist is taking back control from the fat-cat music business pariahs and the fickle, average, bigoted public. It’s about time. So take a stroll through the new breed and see some of the prototypes of the future.
WARNING: These aren’t bands that are easily consumed by the masses. They’re not death metal or experimental garbage, or any other sort that is easily dismissed either. In fact, all of them have the ability to fuck with the pop world, which only exists because bands like this paved the way for it. Don’t ever forget that an ’NSync show is Kiss revisited. You might just have to give up a little part of yourself to accept them. Having to give up a bit of your own personal space so someone else can shine and express themselves freely is a tantrum-inducing plight to some in this day and age. Don’t be a douche bag. Be or become an open book even if you’re too intimidated to wear that naughty little negligee hidden in your dresser drawer.
Canada has a variety of bands that are secretly taking over America and the rest of the world. I know I know. Canada? Hey if you ignore something or someone for long enough for no good reason, they may just come back to bite you in the ass. Remember the ugly little duckling in high school who took off her glasses to reveal a sexpot?
Pissing on why rock stars have gotten so healthy with their personal trainers and non-pharmaceutical existence, Robin Black & The I.R.S. bring back all the debauchery and pompous elements that made millions as misguided youths who did not want to emulate their parents dive into Hit Parader magazine and discover Mötley Crüe. Dating back to 1997, these walking cartoons from Toronto embrace excess in a way that spits on the notion of “keeping it real.” They wear dirty, rotten, filthy bastards on their sleeves. They’re the exact type of band that cynics will want to easily dismiss because their girlfriends secretly want to fuck them. I won’t bore you with further details but like it or not, they’re here to stay. Meet your new New York Dolls meets Poison who won’t be as easily pigeon-holed.
Cheerleader is a new breath of fresh cigarette smoke from Canada. These guys have been described as “an orgy between Ramones, Guns N Roses, and AC/DC” and “like a nasty punk rock angel ready to snatch up your soul.” (chartattack.com) Their Web site claims they played their first show for a pack of gum and I believe it. What separates these guys from the rest of the trashy rock n roll lot is that their singer is great. Their Web site features insights on the proper regiments of eating pussy, sucking cock, and fucking ass. These guys fulfill what lame wanna-be bands like The Strokes can’t. They’re the new Stooges, and hey Lemmy likes them. In simple down-to-earth plain English: they fucking rock.
One of Montreal’s next great or at least outrageous exports, One 976 is “sexy, slutty, smarmy, and smutty.” This septet fronted by Plastik Patrik is barroom sleaze in the androgynous straight-up hard rock world of kinky panache. With seven members onstage, they give the audience more to look at and absorb. Each member has their own unique style and presentation culminating in a potpourri of taboo-busting cabaret. So pull out your ’70s porn-star lingerie, go to their Web site, and try to figure out who’s in drag and who isn’t.
Don’t fret. There’s plenty happening in the land of the free as well.
OK, so these New York girly punks don’t technically have balls but their mission does. They “play their instruments better than the boys and they ain’t whining about their sucky childhoods or their broken hearts.” The band formed on the lower east side of New York in 1998. These “kittens with a whip” have an infectious sound and attitude that would make even the most conservative mothers proud. Go to their Web site and see what The Donnas could be.
Evil Beaver’s lead singer Evie Evil may secretly have balls, but her birth certificate makes no mention of it. Evil Beaver is a two-piece rawk & roll outfit from Chicago. Formed in 1999, these two ladies have paved their way across America with a tour schedule that would make The Grateful Dead proud. They’re what everyone wants Hole to be if they could only get Courtney Love to pay attention to the elements that matter. This bass and drum outfit accomplishes what five-piece bands with costumed intention and lack of ability can’t, without the elimination of flair and a big mouth. Go to their Web site and ride the beaver.
Turbovulva is a bastard of late ’80s early ’90s Wax Trax records with a 70’s British glam flair. Weaned on Shout at the Devil and the legendary now defunct Medusa’s, Turbovulva embraces “everything that you know is true but grates the inner soul of your being.” You’ll have to “give up some of your pretenses about pretentiousness but it knows you secretly want to.” Turbovulva music is for those who want “oral sex and a beer while trying to better themselves inside the pages of an undeniable book.” You will find this unit sitting quietly in the corner all by itself, and just when you think it’s going left, it goes right. Even though the music doesn’t conveniently allow it, Turbovulva is the bitch of the bitches and the loophole it leaves for naysayers as it pisses on conventional band elements is the most intriguing element. Let yourself go and join the vulva.
Ever had secret fantasies of transvestites and transsexuals? Then this is the band for you. This dark glam outfit from Minneapolis fronted by the six-foot-plus transgender performance artist Venus is an outrageous bombastic semblance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in real life. All The Pretty Horses will “walk over hot coals to see what its choices will be in the next life” and embarks wherever it wishes. This band has a Web site so you can sneak a peak without having to admit you did so.
Powder’s lead singer Ninette is Missing Person’s Dale Bozzio and the pop version of Wendy O. Williams reincarnated. Her unique and outrageous personal presentation sits with anything happening in Los Angeles right now. Powder combines a guitar heavy existence with a pop sensibility that eludes easy categorization. They’re metal right up until the point Ninette opens her mouth and delivers her own brand of flamboyant banter and delivery. I’m pretty surprised some label has not scooped them up and plastered posters of Ninette up on the bedroom walls of horny teen males throughout the world.
From New York, The Toilet Boys are fronted by another cross-dressing vixen named Guy, “Miss Guy if you’re nasty.” Sometimes labeled as glam or punk, this unit is actually more straight-ahead rock n roll than most other acts under those same banners. At first sight, I’m sure many would dismiss this band as a gimmick with no substance because of Kiss-inspired pyrotechnics and fire-breathing. If you take a second or third look though and dig deeper, you may just find something to surprise you, not unlike fresh new discoveries in the bathroom as a pubescent youth.
The days of the early ’90s “we look like the people” music are over. Stick them all in your Microsoft PhotoDraw program and click on negative. At least for a little while the world is going to get back to what modern popular music is and has always really been about, sticking out like a sore thumb and doing it with conviction in every shape and form. This is the fuse of the bomb that the safe lit. For those of you who don’t like it: TOUGH.
All of these bands have eliminated that one crucial card that the regular folk play. This time around the pretty girl is poised and she gets better grades than most even if she is a slut. The old, outdated manipulations to reduce and eliminate have lost their past effectiveness. So give it your best shot and remember that if you’re weak at heart, you’re only invited to the game because you have money to steal.
MTV is the way it is now because relevant artists don’t need it anymore. Don’t go there looking for anything important or influential anymore. Instead get on the World Wide Web. It is the new MTV.
© 2003, Carella Ross
Image: Carella Ross
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.