In the latest issue of Spin (September 2004; Pixies on the cover), my pal Chuck Klosterman issues a challenge. The challenge is to build your ideal rock band within these limitations: 1) You must have a singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and wild card, 2) You can only have one person who's currently active in a band, and 3) You can't pick Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, or Animal from the Muppet show for your band.
Klosterman's ideal band would be called Doomed Honeymoon, and have the following line-up:
Guitar: Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
Bass: Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Drums: Tommy Lee (Motley Crue)
Lead Singer: Karen Carpenter
Damn him for picking those last two!
Of course I found this to be an extremely fun exercise, so I started making my own list. I used Klosterman's rules, but also added that everyone should still be alive, just so the idea that this band could actually get together is not as far-fetched. Anyway, I went through three drafts, as follows. My first instinct was this line-up:
Guitar: Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac)
Bass: Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Drums: ?uestlove (The Roots)
Wild card: Jon Brion (producer/songwriter)
Lead Singer: Kylie Minogue
I would call them Pop Culture and they would be a monstrous force! Could you imagine that rhythm section with Brion and Buckingham's songs and Kylie's voice? It would kill! The problem is that this violates Klosterman's second rule. Buckingham, Flea, and ?uestlove are all working with their current bands.
So I took a second try and ended up with this:
Guitar: Eliot Easton (The Cars)
Bass: Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)
Drums: Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
Wild Card: Elton John
Lead Singer: Ronnie Milsap
This line-up would be intriguing, but the problem here is songwriting. Elton and Grohl can write, we know that, but would their songs suit the band? Probably not. Anyway, their name would have been The Thank-Yous.
Finally, I hit on the perfect mix. They're called Zen Garden.
Guitar: Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
Bass: Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins)
Drums: Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish)
Wild Card: Carole King
Lead Singer: David Bowie
This band would be pop heaven! While I see Sturmer and King writing most of the music with Bowie providing lyrics, don't forget that Marr can write too (and his guitar tone cannot be matched). In Bowie you have a charismatic frontman who can adapt his style however he sees fit. I would worship this band, and none of them are currently with other groups, so let's get them together!
Now, if you are so inclined, it's your turn. Take some time to think about it, then use that seldom-touched "comments" link down below and tell about me your band. Don't forget to follow the rules and give them a cool-sounding name!