I have never toured Europe. I have never
spent 16 months in an 80-track studio intricately crafting a
concept album critiquing the British class system. I have never
woken up in a desolate Holiday Inn room knee-deep in scantily clad
groupies and my own vomit.
But I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve been in, by my
count, at least five distinct and wholly imaginary rock bands since
I was 14. None of these bands ever played a gig or recorded a demo:
We purely were idea men. Flyers and album covers were dreamed up
before gigs were booked or songs ever written. Next to none of my
dozen or so bandmates knew how to play an instrument, fewer still
owned one. Consequently, rehearsals were nonexistent, unless you
count the hours poured into hashing out our would-be influences and
cautiously plotting our artistic direction through the next 20
years of forthcoming stardom.
Imaginary bands are a rite of passage for suburbanite males,
like tee-ball or a job mowing lawns; none really make you a man,
but each almost gives the passing impression of such. And so
creased Musician’s Friend catalogues are stuffed under
mattresses, pages dog-eared to ludicrously priced studio Les Pauls
and utterly unnecessary effects pedals. Lyric fragments and
possible logos fill margins of science notebooks.
I grew up wedged between two unfortunately musically inclined
brothers, guys who understood minor key chord progressions and
could count 6/7 time. Their genetic predispositions skipped me
over. Pitch and rhythm eluded my grasp, even at the rudimentary
level necessary to hack out a rudimentary form of contemporary
popular music. Yet ever since my bass player brother formed his
first group in high school, immortal white funk legends Al and the
Sharptones, I’ve always suspected that I could move past my
Thus, the following discography of broken dreams and aborted
rockin’. Every band I’ve almost sort of been in has had
more vision than talent, more sense than equipment. So what if we
wrote acceptance speeches for the Hall of Fame before we learned
how to tune up?
I’ve always felt consistence counts for a lot in rock
’n’ roll, and we were nothing if not consistent. Our
genius was having the integrity and audacity never to really exist
in the first place. Toiling away in filthy half-empty clubs and
fighting to get signed is for suckers. We never got snubbed at the
Grammys. We never saw drop-offs in album or T-shirt sales. We never
transformed into washed-up, flabby has-beens scraping by on the
state-fair circuit, playing our forgotten hits to middling yokels.
If success is simply not failing, then these bands were huge.
Better to burn out than to fade away, right?
The Whitey Muthers (1997 – 1999) Death-Metal
Driving around in Larry’s rotting Beamer with nothing but
a mix tape full of ’80s thrash and James Brown, the original
line-up of the Muthers liked Entombed and Slayer but thought
wah-wah pedals were alright, too. Someone created our own W.M. gang
hand symbol to flash at blue-haired old ladies when stopped at red
lights. Then the cassette player in the car broke and we lost our
The Flying Buttresses (1999 – 2000) Stadium
Out of the ashes of the Muthers rose the Buttresses. I believe I
played keyboards in this P-Funk Allstars-sized ensemble, but
instead of “Give Up Da Funk” we played 20 minute covers
of Styx’ “Lady.” Our plan was to fill the stage
with so many people it wouldn’t matter if anyone knew what
they were doing. My friend Kaz often convinced underclassman girls
we might be legit. There was once even a photo shoot of the core
members, all in vintage marching band uniforms, for the school
newspaper’s joke issue.
It goes without saying we would have had a laser show.
Jarvac 7 (2000 – 2002) Classic Post-Punk
By this point I had firmly committed to being a bassist, the
bastard child of McCartney and Bootsy Collins, but with the heart
of Mike Watt. Plus with only four strings, how much damage could I
do? We broke up when our egos and college rock idealism collided.
Also, I was the only one in the band.
Dmitri and the White Russians (three weeks last summer)
Raw Indie-Pop Outfit, who’d play country standards or Echo
and the Bunnymen covers if you asked real nice
After three previously aborted tries, this band almost really
happened. No, seriously. Originally called the Sublets and
envisioned as the house band of 420 Maynard St., the White Russians
included many of your favorite Daily columnists. Like the Beatles,
we would have no frontman; or rather everybody was to be a
frontman. In other words, democracy run amok. Everyone would sing,
we’d play in everyone’s favorite style. Luckily Todd
got an internship in NYC before we had a chance to actually make it
Pedagogy of the Damned (March 3-present) Post-Rock
Ambient Experimental Noise
I never thought I would be in an imaginary grad-student rock
band, the kind where the band sits down during their sets and you
have to listen to “the notes they’re not
playing,” but POTD is leaning that way at the moment.
Everything is flittered. We’re planning to break up after
Easter to pursue solo careers.