Thursday, 25 November 2010

I'm in the Band Review

My relationship with Disney is comparable to the one Montresor and Fortunato share; we were once close as they filled my childhood days with amazing animated features and I still feel that buying Pixar was the best decision the company ever made. However in recent years due to the diminished quality of the material they keep churning out like an ill dog (namely Hannah Montana and The Jonas brothers) I’m forced to resign myself to seal Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse in an underground chamber using bricks made of political correctness.

I’m in the Band is Disney’s latest attempt at trying to please everyone like Vishnu at a swingers’ party, the subject this time is heavy metal which happens to be my forte; and as a consequence watching Disney pull off their usual trick of taking a subject and watering it down until it’s nothing more than Tesco own brand Gin is as uncomfortable as watching Donald Duck bludgeon my father to death. And in an attempt to sound as pithy as the show’s writers wanted to be, they couldn’t have missed the point more if they followed directions from a woman reading a map.

There are two main reasons why the show doesn’t work. First of all it belongs to that bizarre Stepford wives style universe that all Disney’s programming takes place in. This twilight zone where teenagers sing songs about homework, bake cakes for teachers and the only form of bullying that occurs is quips about how someone’s hat looks stupid. A bit of realism would be nice; how about a few pregnant teens and burnout cars? I appreciate it is a children’s show but by fucking Jove Grange Hill is an indictment of British youth in comparison. Though programmes such as these serve as an antithesis for Skins, which usually play like the thoughts of the world’s most paranoid/delusional emo – were each episode is essentially a social equivalent of 2012. Skins is a ludicrous show that wouldn’t know reality if it was branded onto its ballsack – but at least it is the darker than a blindman’s basement style of ridiculousness as opposed to the aforementioned skip to the loo kind, which being a cynic is difficult to swallow.

The second reason why IITB sucks harder than the prostitute’s malfunctioning dyson is that the show’s writers have clearly derived their perceptions of heavy metal from watching 80’s hair metal videos on VH1 from across the street using a kaleidoscope. Just the premise alone is enough to make Rob Halford quake in his boots; essentially it follows ‘legendary’ heavy metal band Iron Weasel who recruit a teenage guitarist as they prepare to make their comeback. The whole scenario smacks of the delusional fantasies shared by every teenager who has so much as brushed past a guitar; and the more you stop to think about it the plot has more holes than an apple pie in Jim Levenstein’s house. I mean if the band is so awesome and revered as we are led to believe why aren’t droves of experienced guitarists lining up to join their ranks? And why would they settle for an angsty teenager who fits in as well with the band as a miner does at a Conservative party conference?

To be fair Logan “Tripp” Ryan Campbell (the teen) joining Iron Weasel is met with opposition - if only because they fear losing their cool, edgy appeal. Unfortunately if your discography consists of Pull My Finger – a song about the timeless flatulence gag, I Wanna Punch Stuff – which sounds like an anthem for the typical hormonal adolescent and Spiders, Snakes and Clowns which covers the subject of being scared of the titular creatures, then you are as edgy as Super Mario Brothers. Yes I appreciate this is a children’s show so understandably the humour isn’t going to be as sophisticated as Private Eye but the infantile nature of the show is not only damaging to children’s intellect but patronising too. It carries on the tradition that all rockstars must be immature caricatures Derek, Burger and Ash engage in mindless activities such as water bomb fights, make fart jokes and are involved in all many of slapstick scrapes. The show essentially takes the rock stardom experience and performs a frontal lobe lobotomy on it so that it can only be enjoyed by children who will laugh at anything provided there is a laugh track and those in the body of a child (in the Tom Hanks kind of way and not the Gary Glitter type).

Forming the crux of the show are two key elements, firstly there is the long struggle for Iron Weasel to regain its former glory – something that proves rather difficult for a band that is still inexplicably rather popular despite being dropped from their record label. The other focuses on Tripp’s life as a high school, you know that time in human life which is just a plethora of red tape made of social awkwardness and hormones. He has all the typical teenage turmoil and turbulence – girl troubles, parent troubles and homework troubles, yet we are supposed to accept him as a rock god? That’s like a new incarnation of Doctor Who trying to appeal to the same audience yet simultaneously not applying to the rules of quirky habits and hipster dress sense. There is something odd about a band with an average age of thirty when one of the members has to be home by 9pm. Disney are obviously trying to tap into the fantasies of all the teenage amateur musicians who want to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame and become the most popular student in school; what they unfortunately don’t realise is that is often doesn’t work that way and that quickly. Isabella "Izzy" Fuentes (Caitlyn Taylor Love) is these fantasies personified as she dreams of becoming a rock vocalist herself but this is proven unviable time and time again, something which is pointed out by Tripp himself in his pretentious and hypocritical manner.

One thing that is accurately portrayed is the intelligence of the drummer, which to avoid any confusion is on par with roadkill. This may be perceived as an unfair stereotype but the fact that even Phil Collins can drum is an indication of the IQ levels required; it doesn’t take much intelligence to beat a tightly stretched artificial membrane with a stick. Just ask the caveman Ugg. Ashley "Ash" Tyler (Stephen Full) is the perfect character for this sort of show as he is in nature a Forest Gump style character and it doesn’t feel forced whereas reducing the talented Steven John Valentine (playing vocalist Derek Jupiter) to throwing pies around feels somewhat tragic.

All in all it is the atypical Disney show which seems to be plaguing our screens at the moment, and it doesn’t even need to exist as it treads ground that has already been worn straight through to hell. And it is also damaging, giving young viewers the wrong idea of metal by passing it off as a juvenile lifestyle. It may seem wrong to judge a children’s show when viewing it from the perspective of someone who is legally allowed to care for themselves but do remember that I’m the type of guy who would starve to death if left alone for an entire weekend and as such the equilibrium of the universe hath been restored.

And as a special bonus for those amongst you who are trying to create a garage band or if you’re a Disney hack writer planning to create a similar show, here is;

Creating a metal band 101

Step One

The creator(s) of the band must decide what genre it is going to be because this dictates everything from who joins, to the name and even decides which direction the band goes. Iron Weasel actually succeeds here because they very clearly belong to the glam genre in terms of the music they play, but hey give a retarded simian a Gatling gun and he is set to hit something.

Step Two

Obviously a band without musicians is like a maximum security prison without minorities and whilst there is no ‘set’ limit of members allowed it’s usually quartets or quintets. One thing is for certain- that no matter how hard Jack White states just two people can never make a proper band, especially when the percussionist has the natural talent of a soggy biscuit in a Jaffa Cake lookalike contest. Which brings me to my next point, the members actually have to be able to play.

Preferably your band members should share an interest in your chosen genre; otherwise the whole experience for them is going to be comparable to a weekend conference on quantative easing taught in Sweden. Also for example death metal bands don’t want a bassist that dresses in luminous orange shorts because they are clearly allergic to anything that evokes images of flowers and puppies as opposed to concentration camps.

Step Three

You’ll need to name the band and since this will be your label for the rest of your career it’ll need to sound good. Unfortunately you are probably only in this for the money and therefore lack the required creativity to pull off an imaginative name like Megadeth, Metallica or Fireclown so you’ll stick with a generic sounding name. To make this easier you just stick to a simple template for example think of a hard substance, i.e. a type of metal, or object such as rock or ice. Next add an animal or object to add as a suffix and thus complete the band name. Ideally this should be something that invokes power such as a leopard or a panther or even a hammer. This is tried and tested by many bands – Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Steel Panther or even Iron monkey and is the easiest route to undertake especially if you want to minimalize your chances of coming up with a band name such as Dankon and discovering years later it is a Japanese word for penis.

What you don’t do is name the band Iron Weasel not lest because if you say it quickly it sounds like “I am weasel” and I don’t think we need to be reminded of that show. It’s a fucking retarded name sounding less effective as a heavy metal name than cotton fabric. Of course the unusual choice in name becomes apparent once you view the tie-in music video, which contains a delicious pun (or a bowl of cyanide if you weren’t depraved of Oxygen as a newborn) in the song title and chorus line – weasel rock you. Think about that. Yes we-shall rock you was the best the tired writers could come up with, and in their grand vision children were laughing, and also women were praising their witticisms one can assume.

Step Four

Write lyrics, riffs, licks and solos as you begin to build up your set list. Choose lyrical themes that suit your style with music that compliments them, for example if you are a disenfranchised angry Thrash quartet who dislikes the man, tell the audience how the corporate machine stole your virginity by screwing you by expecting money to be paid in exchange for goods and services. Just don’t write about being a group of man children who hang around with teenagers getting them into all kinds of “trouble.”

Oh and practice makes perfect.

Step Five

Perform gigs to build up a fanbase. One would assume this would be common knowledge after all you aren’t you just writing and uploading songs onto Youtube so the people can who accidentally navigate off amusing cat videos and Asians who upload themselves covering pop songs can enjoy them. However Iron Weasel rarely manage to get to a gig despite being serious about making a comeback, at the end of season one they probably aren’t even reliable enough for a take-away to actually bother to deliver them a pizza.

Step Six

Act like a band, and no that isn’t in a snort a line of cocaine off a groupie’s breasts or throw a TV set out of a hotel window kind of way but more like being the metal Gods the fans want to see. If they wanted to bear witness to flatulence they would visit their grandfather in the old folk’s home. So make sure you put on a tight performance, with hand banging, devil horns and other dark theatrics that we have come to expect. And if you must then snort a line of cocaine off a TV set and throw a prostitute out of a hotel window.