Friday, July 15, 2011

How Low Can You Go: A Week Of Bassists Behaving Badly

Is it just me, or has the week in music been dominated by the zany behavior of bass players?

First of all, and I’ve struggled whether or not to even mention this for fear of reprisal and for worry that I may demonstrate a change in my hostility towards the band Kiss-I nearly broke down watching an episode of Gene Simmon’s Family Jewels, the one where he returns to Israel for the first time in 50 some years.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, evidently Gene hasn’t been with his Father in that amount of time either, supposedly because he was still upset that his father "abandoned" he and his mother. You could probably be a Freshman Psych major and figure out that Gene has some major daddy issues resulting from this.

The irony is that their divorce culminated with Gene’s mom moving to America and, as any major dude will tell you, the rest is history.

So while the split prompted both his rise to fame and an unhealthy resentment towards his father, it made for a homecoming narrative that had Gene meeting new members of his family while rekindling some lost memories of a country that he left when his mother packed it up and headed to N.Y.C. for a new life with her song.

The Israeli homecoming made for some stunning television, particularly when you see Gene meet his step-brothers and sisters. It culiminates when they nudge him towards considering that his father wasn't all that bad as his resentment made him out to be. All of this comes rushing out when you see/hear Gene break down at his father’s gravesite, finally realizing that he may have squandered a relation with his dad because of some poorly conceived perceptions.

For the first time in my life, I saw Gene as something more than just a money-grabbing opportunist and understood the origins of his misogynistic ways. None of this made Gene’s faults right, just explainable. And in typical Gene fashion, he was back to his huckster/fuckster ways within the first few moments of the next episode.

Gene’s no dummy, so you’ve got to believe that the hugeness of the event-the fact that Gene actually expressed emotion and vulnerability for the first time in front of his fans, that this episode and real event would be leading towards some kind of revelation. An epiphany that would add a new dimension to his character as he gets ready to slide into retirement.

Yet like a dummy, he can’t let it happen. He can only squander a golden opportunity to make him more likeable to a wider audience, something he and his brand desperately need as his/their relevance a quickly diminishing year after year.

And Gene, unlike Paul who views his Kiss character as some kind of aging Broadway character who will continue the role until he physically can no longer do it, is all about revenue stream. So why he didn’t seize this moment of human vulnerability and create a new revenue stream of redeemed family man who’s finally found that commitment to family after fucking 10,000 skanks in the past forty years.

It’s 2011 dude, we all threw up a bit when we saw you in that homemade porn with that blonde chick who wouldn’t even kiss your ugly ass or take off her flip-flops. Hang it up and be a man, because you’re already ten times as lame as you made out your old man to be.

And then there’s the former bassist from Queens Of The Stone Age-Nick Oliveri-who proved this week that not only is he drug-fueled crazy, he’s drug-fueled and gun-totin’ crazy! At least that’s they described it when Oliveri got into a fight with his old lady of such epic proportions that the SWAT team was called to his home and a standoff ensued.

I remember once when the cops were called when my ex-wife and I got into a fight a few months before we got divorced thanks to her father who didn’t seem to grasp the idea that she was trying to beat my ass, not the other way around.

I’m really not sure what’s going on with Oliveri’s ordeal other than to hope that he’s not such a pussy that he thinks that beating up a woman is a “tough” thing to do, but do I need to remind you that Josh Homme kicked Oliveri’s ass out of Q.O.T.S.A. for doing the exact same thing?

I’ll leave it up to you to determine if you think that Josh was the bitch in those events.

Finally, there the dude from Coheed and Cambodia who threatened to blow up a Walgreens if they didn’t front him some Oxies last week.

After showing the pharmacy assistant his Smartphone with the words “I have a bomb!” and “Gimmie all your good pills!” they gave Mike Todd (he goes by "Mic", but as his actions demonstrate, it’s going to take more than dropping letters from your first name to make you cool, dude) a bottle of Anacin and told him to get the fuck out, to which he did.

To further demonstrate how uncool the bass player from Coheed and Chlamydia is, he hailed a cab and told the cabbie to drop him off at the tour bus at the Comcast Center where his band was scheduled to open for Soundgarden in just a few short hours.

The cops originally wanted to arrest Chris Cornell for that piece of shit Scream album, but the pharmaceutical companies reminded them that these little heroin Chicklets are pricey, and we can’t be just giving them away to every prog-metal bassist with a smart phone.

One look at his mug shot and you can’t help but feel sorry for the dude, I mean, just look at him. His life is fucked and it’s all because he crossed paths with a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company who’s created a country of junkies under the pretense of “pain management.”

On a much lighter note, there was one bassist who managed to remind us that it’s possible to be cooler than the three other bassists combined and still play the instrument without much pay or recognition, but rather for the sheer passion of it.

Kira Roessler was a former bass player with Black Flag and former spouse of Mike Watt. She also has a ten-and-a-half inch cock.

Dos, the on-and-off again collaboration she does with her ex-husband wife is preparing for a new album and, as a result, Kira was recently interviewed by the Village Voice. She talks about her past, accurately defines the meaning of punk rock, and graciously provides her humble insights to her instrument of choice that is frequently neglected and dismissed.

One of the things she mentions that struck me-mainly because I felt the same way when I saw footage of Watt playing with the re-formed Stooges-is how Watt is becoming a better bass player because he’s finally beginning to play bass differently than he has throughout his career. I say “beginning” with the understanding that it’s now going on a good decade or so, but you get my drift. His skills as a bassist are very much recognized and they would have remained that way had he not played an additional note or changed in the way that he played.

But he has changed the way he played.

The gig required it.

And sometimes doing something outside of your comfort zone is the most frightening thing you can do, and the fact that Watt has done that very thing only means that he’s getting better at his craft.

The interview with Kira is a very enjoyable read. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she reminds us that punk rock wasn’t/isn’t about a set of rules (there are none!) and how, at its core, punk rock is about the community.

At the end of the week full of the worst of the low end, it was great to finally come across some good news from someone who’s reached rock bottom.

In a good way, of course!

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