Saturday, September 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

The career arc of the nameless rock band

tony wade column sig

By
From page A2 | January 13, 2014 |

“At sign, hashtag, dollar sign, percent, ampersand, exclamation point! ” Sanjay Petel said excitedly. When he got blank stares from his friends, he wrote it out on the white board: “@#$%&!”

“See? It’s like comic strip cussing or like when Prince changed his name to that symbol!” Sanjay said.

“That’s stupid! Prince already had a name so you could just call him “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” or “T.A.F.K.A.P.,” Pete Hostel said. “But you can’t start out a band with unpronounceable symbols as its name, moron.”

The band name brainstorming then resumed and ideas were floated and rapidly shot down. “Vitreous Humor” – the clear gel in eyeballs – —sounded promising until they realized the initials were taken by Van Halen 35 years ago. “Joypop” didn’t reflect their musical direction. “Backbiter?”  Too negative and too Marv Albert-ish. “Jar Jar and the Prequels” just cracked everyone up.

“We’ll come back to the name” Keith Gorten said, standing up. “We have more important stuff to get to.”

When Keith, a brilliant ninth-grader, decided to become a rock star, he researched it thoroughly and came up with a crystal-clear plan. He then texted his three closest friends since fourth grade: Camryn Jackson, and the aforementioned Pete and Sanjay. They all loved blues-based ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock and wanted to capture that retro feel and add a pinch of 21st century flavor.

Keith erased “BAND NAME” from the white board then pointed to the rather pretentious words already written there: “ROCK AND ROLL CAREER ARC.”

“OK, so the important thing is that we make a splash with our first album and capture hard-rock lovers,” Keith said. “It has to be an awesome album, but not so awesome that it can’t ever be topped. Guns ’n’ Roses had that problem with ‘Appetite for Destruction.’

“Next, we do a follow-up that is even better and then the third album will become a classic,” Keith said. “On the fourth album, we’ll sell out a little and make it more commercial.”

“Won’t that alienate our original fan base?” Sanjay asked, fully engaged.

“Many of them, yes, but most will stick with us and our new fans will more than make up for the ones we lose. Kinda like when Metallica made that wretched, but hugely popular so-called black album,” Keith said.

“What’s ‘PITFALLS TO AVOID?’” Camryn asked, pointing to the heading on the right.

Keith wanted to lay out his plan systematically, but knew how antsy Camryn got, so he answered his question.

“No drugs and no alcohol are on the top of that list,” Keith said. “I mean, maybe we could get strung out and then capitalize on getting sober like Aerosmith did, but our music would suffer. Plus, the whole choking-to-death-on-your-own-vomit-thing has been done, well, to death.”

“What’s “NO YOKOS?” Pete asked, reading ahead.

“It means,” Keith replied, “No girlfriends in rehearsals or in the studio.”

“Uh . . . what girlfriends? Imaginary ones?” Camryn asked.

“They’ll be for real once we hit it big and they can be band-killers,” Keith said. “Now, this next one is extremely important: No flying.”

Sanjay, Pete and Camryn started laughing. When Keith rapidly rattled off the names of 10 musicians and groups who died in aviation crashes, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughan off the top of his head, the laughter ceased. He then showed them a mock-up of the band’s tour bus.

“Now back to our career path,” Keith said. “Once we’ve become institutions, we then try experimental albums that almost no one likes except critics, followed by a temporary breakup. Then we have a huge reunion tour which we’ll record for a greatest hits/live double album. After that, we’ll be older and be more appreciative of our careers and can do county fairs and other venues we were too big and proud to do before. Avoiding, of course, the whole Spinal Tap-former-headliners-opening-for-a-puppet-show syndrome.”

Keith’s thorough presentation left his bandmates without questions so he opened the floor for more band names.

“iPhone Home!” Camryn shouted and was booed down.

“Oh, wait! I almost forgot one thing,” Keith said. “Do . . . uh . . . any of you know how to actually play any instruments?”

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at kelvinsbrother@sbcglobal.net.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
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