June 8, 2010

Permanently Down the Rabbit Hole.

Hello boys. Girls. For my next presentation I present a gift to you all. A present, you might say. For those us of with the presence of mind and the gift of pleasant understanding, the next part of this immediate life will be quite a treat. Our lives will be wonderful for ages and ages and years. We will all be happy here--you, me, Alice, The Jabberwock, The Cheshire Cat, we will be safe and presentable here in Wonderland. Forever and ever. Call me mad, if you must, so long as you never call me late!

You know that I know that you pay, with dignity, many dirty green fibers to see me appear larger than I am in reality. I am louder, I am more looming, and I could very well crush all of you in your seats if I was gifted with another dimension--though I wouldn't! And when you look at my huge face it is never the same as it has been before, though you could call it similar. Very similar, indeed. So much so that you think you've seen it somewhere before--which you have because it's always my face, you see.


Did you know...? I used to have scissors for digits! Yes, yes, and drank myself drunk on rum on a boat on a film stage! Not so long ago, I sang and murdered and barbered and...where was I?

My face!


As you see, 'tis tasked with looking wonderful for all time. And in time my wonderfuls, you'll get to see this same face of mine looking like the same face of mine for all time. It's because I'm staying right where I am. Down here. Down the rabbit hole. With Alice, with Tweedledee, Dum, Dormouse and...you, if you'll remain delighted enough to stay.

Of course, there can't be a sequence without a consequence (though I've yet to see a prosequence for proper balance) and this sequence causes a doozy. The downside of staying down here is that I'll never again be a pirate. My ahoys will be reserved for rather unusual maties in all three of Underland's dimensions. And for you, of course, if you'll stay enlightened enough to remain here.

Think of the possibilities! The tea! My scods, think of the tea! An unending buffet of Earl's Grey and Pearl's Green. We wouldn't need anything else. We would have Tweedledum, Dee, Cheshire, the White Queen and...well, you'll stay, too, won't you? We could all have each other. We could all have each other. We couldn't all hate each other...

Just drink three potions and we'll stay delightfully heavy here in Underland. The first potion makes you small; so small that you could fit inside, say, a hat. Not my hat, necessarily, but just any old hat, really. The second potion turn you the hue of all the brightest colors. The third potion will keep my face on the reflection of your eyes forever and ever. And when you sleep, I'll sleep inside of your eyelids. And when you wake, I'll look back at you in the mirror. And when you look away, you'll be looking my a-way.

And we'll never, ever not not hate each other. You'll stay. I'll stay. We'll live in wonder and you'll never have to wonder about pirates ships, or demon haircuts, or chocolate factories, or headless horse riders. You'll just see me, Hatter.

And you won't be sorry.

June 3, 2010

What's In a Band Name?

Somewhere among the bongos and steel guitars and Van Halen posters and Iggy Pop records, perhaps beneath the abandoned love letters to Whitney Houston or behind the KISS lunchbox collection, or even in between the Stoli vodka bottle and the empty 12-pack of PBR, sits an identity crisis. It's collecting dust, much like the second Proclaimers cassette mix on the floor.

Four different walks of life with four favorite bands, four favorite lead singers, and three favorite guitar solos (coincidentally, two share common ground in appreciation for Hendrix's underrated shredding on "Stone Free") have formed a group of their own. They've recorded two songs, mused up enough lyrics to fill a barn with 12-point Times New Roman font, and are nearing their first gig. But when they are called up to the stage to open for the Foreigner cover band--Feels Like the First Time Again--how will they be announced to the crowd? As an overly complex, pretentious clan of Thom Yorke devotees? Or maybe they'll come off as simpletons; hillbillies flailing their fingers in hopes to make something resembling music? Or worse yet, with complete silence--only a finger point and "here are...some musicians!"

They are, as America would say, a horse with no name.

The most optimistic voice in the group is also the most talkative, which makes sense. He is the lead vocalist, after all. When Allan (who will soon add a third 'L' to his name for extra sex appeal) is alone for too long, his throat starts vibrating the theme songs to his favorite 80s sitcoms out of habit--though he can rarely make it all the way through Growing Pains without tearing up.

"We're in your face! Ya know? Like, we're right there and we're not leaving, is the thing! We don't take "no" for an answer because we didn't ask you a fucking question! We just tell you what we're going to do and then do it!"

It's a rallying cry that has landed on deaf ears. Hours into the naming debate, defeat burrowed itself into three pairs of eyes. But not Alllan's.

"So we should tell people that with our name!"

Alllan's iPod is a melodic rainbow. Green Day, Blue Oyster Cult, Pink Floyd, The Black Crowes, Silverchair, Deep Purple, Sister Hazel, The White Stripes...

And while he loves their music, he's never felt a connection to their names. Unimaginative and vague. There's too much wiggle room in a name like that. The best band names will stand out for their uniqueness and the punch behind them. What's unique about red? Not a goddamn thing.

"But we're deep, too, is the other thing. We're a bunch of guys who like to break strings and push shit over, but when it gets down to the core of us as a band, we've got sentimental souls, right? So let's tell 'em right up front that we're some emotional dudes."

As much as Alllan dislikes bands named for colors, he hates ones named for numbers even more. Blink-182? What the hell does that even mean? The B-52s have an outstanding body of work but should have spent a little less time dedicating songs to crustaceans and a little more time working out that name. Numbers got a big resurgence with that whole pop-punk trend from the nineties: Sum 41, 311, Eve 6, SR-71, 3rd Eye Blind. He really needs to start listening to that last Eve 6 record a lot more though, because it was surprisingly terrific.

Maroon 5 fucked themselves from the start, joining the worst of evils into one name. Never had a chance. And that's not going to happen for...for...well, for whatever these guys end up calling themselves.

"We're kind of a yin and yang balance, when you think about it. Like, we're hard as bullets but we're soft as crushed velvet..."


Wayne is an idiot. That's why he's a drummer.

"Velvet Bullets is too close to Velvet Revolver, which was already too close to Guns N Roses."

Points for trying, though. It's about time someone else got in on the action. Too bad that someone has to be Wayne, though. Give him a pair of sticks and the guy's a genius. Give him a thought and he's a fucking moron.

Great band names are special and you know it right when you hear them. The best ones roll off the tongue and stick to your brain. Two words? Three at most, probably. The Beatles. Metallica. Journey. On the other hand, a lot of them tend to sound kind of silly the first few times you hear them. The DJ says, "here's the new rocker, Bullet With Butterfly Wings from the Smashing Pumpkins!" And you think, what did he say? Isn't it July? Halloween is months away, guy.

"It's got to be a declaration! Something that tells our fans that--"

"Fan. Mitch Whitford. He's the only one registered on our PureVolume profile."

"Fine. We need something that tells Mitch Whitford that we've got creative juices dripping down our legs and the name is just the start. Because I've got news, guys: no one's coming to a show to see Blank Gray Straw."

Blank Gray Straw presents their breakthrough album "Dull Farm." It just peaked at #798 album on the Billboard Hot 1,000.

Alllan knows that the name isn't really their biggest problem. The real issue here is that there's no sense of direction within the band. There's just too much going on to have any cohesion. What are they about? What do they sound like? To describe the band's sound in one word would be a nearly impossible task. "The Ballad of the Toad in My Basement" is clearly goth pop/folk rock. But "Steel Pants Dance" could get lumped in with 70s punk blues metal. And what's "Johnny Grossman and the Lumberjack's Extra Molar?" Alternative hillbilly funk, maybe?

"We're not getting anywhere just sitting here. Let's start throwing stuff against the wall and see what sticks! All right? Now, whatever our name is, it should provoke action!"

"Developing Face Cancer."

"It needs to be more optimistic than that."

"Racing With the Wind?"

"Manlier! It's got to have some balls, guys!"

"Fucker Heart!"

"Maybe a little less vulgar..."

"Earth Hammers!"

"Well, that's...that's not actually that bad. Ooh..."

"Raising the Living! Practical Drunks! Smite With Breakfast!"

"Holy God, when did you get good at this game? Let's keep the magic rolling..."

"Muffin Box Frenzy!"

"Oh, okay. You're done."

Alllan and Boris, the bassist, have always been just a page apart musically. Aside from their aforementioned appreciation of Hendrix's style of guitar solos, they can never quite agree on what is best, but they're never too far apart. For instance, Boris thinks Def Leppard's Pyromania was the greatest record to come out of the hair metal era, while Alllan thinks its Leppard's Hysteria. Same ground, different type of dirt. So if Wayne has CCR's Greatest Hits on loop for too long or if Tommy (the lead guitarist) starts lecturing about the purity of the Styx discography, Alllan and Boris give each other knowing glances and wander off to share headphones full of The Fratellis.

Names now fly around the room at a mile a minute, which prompts Tommy to suggest Mile a Minute as a possible band name. It's thrown out in jest, really--he's secluded himself from the discussion by making animal shapes out of his shoe laces, so the suggestion is covered in sarcasm (and the smell of sweaty tennis shoes). But it lingers in the air long enough for it to sink into everyone's subconsciousness. And silently, each person--even Tommy--allows themselves to fantasize about the moniker; the first album cover, the cheering crowd demanding an encore, their faces on the cover of Rolling Stone.

And it's not perfect, but it's them. What is perfect anyways? Perfect is boring, especially perfect music. No, Mile a Minute is something better than perfect--it's sudden and constant. It reflects their souls. It celebrates their aggression, surely, as well as the way their thoughts and emotions run. For them, it's balance.

Most importantly, though, it's something they can all agree on. A phrase to unite four separate beings.

And a fucking killer logo to put on t-shirts.