Monday, January 23, 2012

Call Me Pigtail 7/20

What could be more ridiculous than a bass solo? It sums up everything stupid and self-important about rock bands. So let's have a bass solo! From Skipper, who literally can't play bass! Let's have him just stand there on stage and hit one or two spastic notes, lots of dead air, that ever-present gnarly hum of corroded wires, and here's the thing -- let's act like it's awesome. Because compared to any other rock and roll bass solo ever played by anyone, it is. All bass solos are stupid, and Skipper's is no more or less stupid than the most artistic, studied, accomplished, serious bass solo by any other rock band in this or any other century. We know it, and soon the crowds know it. It's funny because it's true.
What could be more ridiculous than a drum solo? Pretty much nothing. We absolutely love Led Zeppelin, but our love encompasses their stupidity, so we fully appreciate John Bonham playing a drum solo with his hands. So let's get GT up there, and give him not drums but our heads, our mammoth-cave-helmet-wearing heads, to bang on. Listen to the sharp rat-a-tat of wood on safety plastic! It cuts through the smoky club, impossible to ignore. And now that we have your attention, you can't miss GT's true virtuosity -- he's playing the other dudes' heads, good bit, pretty funny, but check it -- he's fucking wailing! Seriously.
What could be more ridiculous than a guitar solo? A fancy, twiddly, spot-lit guitar solo from a wealthy and famous rock god? A long one, too -- so long the other dudes leave the stage for a smoke backstage. A guitar solo that, I don't know, also includes a theremin, or a violin bow, or another guitar you play with your foot, or all three. Glorious! I want in on it! So without thinking it through too much we combine the most blockheaded, and therefore most important, rock riff ever -- the intro to "Smoke on the Water" -- with a feat no rock cretin has ever tried: we'll see your theremin and raise you an oven mitt. Can it be done? Can I play the riff with, as Skipper announces, "a fully functional oven mitt" on my left hand? I don't know. But I do know this: It Don't Matter. Pretty soon it's a regular part of The Show.
Over time our sick and bubbling brains cough up variations on the ridiculosity of the Official Rock Solo. Here are a few:
* Squeaky Balloon. Skipper produces a balloon, blows it up, and does that squeaky air-release thing into the mic, while I instruct the sound man in the correct way to make the innocent little squeal sound like a Concorde jet landing an a sperm whale: "Soundman, please apply 50 dB's of backward reverb and 3 grams of double-sideways echo to the microphone!" Some sound men get it, some don't -- the sound man at Little Brother's, in Columbus Ohio, who is actually a sound woman, is one of the best ever. When it works it's a frightening tempest of feedback and escalating screechy echoes. One of my favorite parts of the show. And even though it's a balloon solo, it's still a bass solo. It's a bass solo.
* Liberal Art. Once the NDI starts blowing minds in college towns, we begin providing the kids with object lessons in what we think of as liberal art -- art we take liberties with. We're getting a little ways away from our bone-headed trailer-trash roots, but a solo is a solo, so I bring out a big thing of orange or green tempura paint; I get a big old mouthful of that salty/nasty/wrong tasting shit, and GT and Skipper unroll a big thing of shiny white paper and I SPIT that shit, the paint and drool and beer and maybe a little vomit, across the virgin white gleaming surface. And then we tear it off and reward it to a random/cute member of the crowd. It slows things down a bit, but we're up for anything. And remember, it's a guitar solo.
* Goodtime Plays the Harmonica and Sings. The NDI begins with a few assumptions, among them that drummers should never sing. Ever. Or write lyrics (see "Rush"). But that doesn't stop GT from bellowing/singing random children's songs and bleating out two notes on a toy harmonica. For money! It's a strange and wonderful world.
* A few more: The raw pig's head I banged on my strings. Skipper singing show tunes in a cracked Bette Davis voice. Goodtime blowing stuff up. Playing the saxophone theme to "My Three Sons." Ummm... There other solos I can't fully remember or have blocked out. If any of you people remember a solo I have forgotten, feel free to share!
That's all for now! The narrative arc returns for part 8. See you soon you big baboons!

1 comment:

  1. I remember that one guitar solo where, no, wait. It was...uh, what was i saying?


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