Like most men on the planet, I’m really angry that I never got to be a rock star.
When I was a kid in school and the teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say a lawyer. Because I thought everyone would laugh at me if I said I wanted to be in KISS.
Basically, every man in the world wants to shred it up on stage, play a stadium, throw sweat soaked t-shirts into a manic crowd, make people cry, bang groupies, wear leather pants, live on the road and answer to fucking no one. Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole list.
The incredibly small likelihood of ever living this life is absolutely no deterrent. We believe balls to bone that even though we can’t play or sing well, if we just met the right group of guys and they had the right vibe we could make the cover of Rolling Stone. For sure.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met at a train station, U2 met when Larry Mullen Jr put an ad up on a noticeboard, the guys in the Vines met working at McDonald’s. So you know, it could totally happen.
Then you study some degree, get a real job and the next thing you know you’re 30 something, paunchy, thinning on top and nowhere near getting pinned up on a teenage girl’s bedroom wall. Hang on, you have a teenage daughter.
The irony of course is that now, you want it more than ever. Not to be worshipped. Just to get on stage once in front of a crowd and rock out. Check any man’s bucket list, it’s in the top 5.
So that’s when guys in their 30s and 40s get together and go fuck it, let’s start a band and there’s nowhere better in the world to be a wannabe rock star than LA. And now you’ve got money. It’s no guitar from a pawn shop, played in the bedroom, rehearsing in your friend’s garage situation. No, no. We’re talking $2,000 on a first axe, a bitching amp, a whole room in the house to play in and rehearsal spaces to rent with sound decks and big assed Marshall stacks.
Laugh all you want kids, Dad Bands have all the equipment you will never own.
But here’s what does suck about being in a band when you’re in your 40s, there are literally no good stories. See when you’re in a band in your 20s, great shit happens all the time. You break up with a girlfriend so you have to crash at your friends and you write a song at 3am. Your drummer rolls his van because he’s epically stoned and loses his arm. The lead singer is so high on coke in a club that he’s forgotten the gig is on so you start 2 hours late, but it doesn’t matter because he rocks out Jim Morrison style because all that’s between you and the morning is just psychosis and love and the vibe and passion and the crowd and the music, the music, the music…
Oh, and at least one member of the band will OD and be replaced before you make it big. It’s sad, but it just adds to the cred.
When you’re in a Dad Band, there is no way Scorsese will ever make a movie about you. The bass player has to drop out because he’s really busy at his middle management job, the lead singer misses the rehearsal because the babysitter cancelled, the guitarist has to go on a company retreat. Ah, the 9 to 5 lameness of it all.
But if you’re in a Dad band in LA, things are really looking up.
One story I heard was about a guy who was looking for a new school for his kid who was just about kindergarten age. There’s basically three schools in LA where all the kids from the Beverly Hills and surrounding areas go. So he’s checking one out, being taken around by the principal. He’s duly impressed.
When they pass the music room, he happens to mention that he plays guitar and sings a little.
Principal: Oh really, that’s great. You know, we have a Dad Band here at the school, maybe you’d like to join, they’re looking for a fourth.
Guy: Sure that sounds like fun. Could I meet the guys?
Principal: Well they are all a little busy but let’s see what we can organize.
Turns out that the Dad Band is Gene Simmons on bass, Stewart Copeland on drums and Stephen Stills from Crosby Stills and Nash.
To say that the guy nearly soiled himself is an understatement. And suddenly the school fees didn’t seem that high at all.
But maybe the one that truly proves every man’s rock star needs was the day that another guy was dropping his kids at school, the same one JJ Abrams’ kids attend. He’s packed the kids off and is having a chat with another Dad outside the school gates.
He mentions that his band is having problems, they just lost the bass player and have no idea when they’re going to get another one. Right then he hears a guy offer to take the slot.
JJ: I play bass.
The guy turns around. The creator of Alias, Lost, Super 8 and Fringe is standing there next to them.
Guy: Uh, really?
JJ Abrams: Yeah, what kid of stuff do you guys play?
The guy looks at him and thinks about how he is talking to one of the most successful men in showbusiness, a pop culture creator, a zeitgeist riding entertainment guru.
Guy: Do you really have the time to rehearse?
JJ thinks about this for a moment. The crushing reality of his schedule comes down hard on him in a sad moment of self-realization.
JJ: Yeah. Yeah, you’re probably right.
But the fact that Mr Abrams completely forgot about Mission Impossible 4 and the Star Trek sequel when the chance to play in a band was dangled in from of him speaks directly to the primal need for a man to be up on stage with a mean six string strapped to his front and a wall of feedback roaring behind him.
I don’t know, I think it would have been kind of cool to say the bass player can’t make rehearsals, he’s at the Oscars.