Bandicoots: Hedonism 101

Categories: Columns

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When people find out I’m in a band, they ask a series of questions. The first one is always, invariably, “Does your drummer have a boyfriend?” followed by, “What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to your band on the road?”

To overtly and empirically answer the most frequent Hot IQs’ question: Yes. (And Tyler’s a pretty cool guy, too.) The second query is a little more complicated. Journalists ask us this question. Other bands ask us this question. Family members ask us this question. Clearly, it's a popular question.

The urge to be regaled with lurid tales from the road probably goes back as far as, well, the existence of roads. The modern mainstreaming of rock star glories came about in the '60s, thanks to films like A Hard Days Night, Don’t Look Back and Gimme Shelter , which brought the antics of world-famous musicians into the homes of Middle Americans. While debauchery most certainly occurred before then, the unwashed masses weren't privy each and every scandalous detail. Although musicians have been following the Roman Guidebook to Hedonism since perhaps the advent of performance, it wasn't until that time period that bands’ road antics became part of the cultural fabric.

And then in the '80s, things changed for the worst. The Hair Bands of that era radically re-defined things. Bands like Van Halen, Warrant, Poison, Motley Crue and White Lion ushered in a blatant dudeism that took rock debauchery to new heights. Stars went from drinking wine backstage, discussing philosophy and running from frenzied (but harmless) fans through the streets to strippers, Cameros, and snakes.

On paper, that doesn’t seem like that big of a jump. Wild and crazy guys have been getting it on and on till the breaka breaka dawn throughout time. But the Hair Gods brought an already sexist and misogynistic conversation to a whole new awful level. They recontextualized the mainstream’s assumptions of what happens to bands backstage. In other words, what everyone's really looking for when they ask “What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to your band on the road?” is sleazy tales of salaciousness that hold true to those hair metal archetypes. Worse than the cheesy songs and the utterly demeaning videos, bands like Gun N’ Roses popularized the notion that bands had to be sleazy in order to be cool. Unfortunately, this ridiculous myth still prevails.

By those standards, I guess we're pretty uncool. Bad news for anyone hoping to live vicariously through Hot IQs. Our craziest road stories typically involve not showering for two whole days, scouring a local organic market for Odwalla, and maybe, just maybe, staying up late drinking wine discussing philosophy. (Of course there was that gun-toting guy in Reno, and that near-arrest in New York. Oh, and that absolutely insane night in Bloomington, Indiana...)

Other than some pretty random and -- when you get down to it -- poetic events on the road, we, like I imagine 99 percent of bands out there, don’t prescribe to the Hair Metal ethos. Why do you think we’re called Hot IQs? Yes, our talented drummer is also fantastically good looking (WITH, AHEM, A STEADY BOYFRIEND!), but ultimately we're just three marginally intelligent geeky music fans who happen to also play music. No guidebook. No snakes. Sorry to disappoint, Denver.

-- Eli Mishkin

Bandicoots is written by Eli Mishkin of Hot IQs and appears every week, except when it doesn't. Got questions? Get answers. Hit Eli up here.


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