When I posted my review of Them Crooked Vultures, I got thinking about the idea of superbands. The idea of taking the “best” parts of other bands, and putting them together in a new band in the hope that this conglomeration of artists could produce something better than they could on their own. Of course, this is all down to personal taste, the idea of what you consider good about different bands and artists, how you hope they would fit together and the sound you are yearning to get from them.
I’ve been mentioning these ideas to people, and it seems that even when people think they are putting effort into their choices, there seems to be some consensus. It seems that most people’s dream superbands take one of two routes. On the one hand, you have the people I will call “Legend Lovers”, who will give you a list of names of classic artists, most of whom are dead, but all are instantly recognisable. On the other hand, you have the “Virtuoso Votaries”, who will pick the artists who are famous for playing fast and complex, and little else. There is some overlap between these groups, but unless people actually sit down and research artists, all their choices fit into these two groups. When it comes to me, my first instinct was to be a Legend Lover as, to be honest, they are legends for a reason!
Vocals: Freddie Mercury/Robert Plant/Roger Daltry
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix/Brian May/Pete Townshend/Eric Clapton/Jimmy Page
Bass: John Entwistle/Geddy Lee/Paul McCartney
Drums: Keith Moon/Neil Peart/John Bonham
Vocals: Freddy Mercury/Bruce Dickinson/Ian Gillan/Steve Perry
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix/Joe Satriani/Steve Vai/Yngwei Malmsteen/Eddie Van Halen/Herman Li
Bass: Flea/John Petrucci/Geddy Lee/Cliff Burton
Drums: Neil Peart/John Bonham/Mike Portnoy
So, with all this useless research, where does this leave my superband concept? Well, I’ve been putting thought into this, and decided upon some rules for myself. By following these rules, I think I have come up with my personal perfect superband, who could actually have a chance of working together, and is somewhat original.
Rule 1: Avoid Legend Lovers and Virtuoso Votaries lists as much as possible
Rule 2: No dead musicians
Rule 3: Put together a band I think will actually work, musically.
The Band (All Photos Lead To Standout Performances)
Drums: Taking up the rhythm duties for my dream superband is Dresden Dolls drummer, Brian Viglione. I know, I’m off to a slightly obscure start, but hear me out. This guy is a really energetic and expressive drummer, and has enough stage presence to not just disappear at the back of the stage. While primarily a rock drummer, with punk influencing the sheer speed of some of his playing, he is also heavily influenced by Jazz, after his father took him to see “The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine” at the age of 11. Playing with Amanda Palmer in Dresden Dolls has given Viglione a good range. He knows when to play softly and not get in the way, but even in these moments he can add sweet little nuances, and not just cymbal taps. Also, when the time comes, he is able to really thicken up a sound with complex beats, jazzy fills and high-energy rock and roll swagger. He’s the perfect rock to hinge my band on.
Bass: One thing I love is when the bass can create movement in a piece of music. It sounds like an oxymoron, but melodic basslines are something we’ve sadly almost lost, but are one of the things that create that classic rock sound that is slowly dissapearing. Listen to most bands, and all you hear from the bassist is the root note of whatever chord the band is rocking. Add the ability to make any song truly funky and you begin to see that the bass guitar is a wonderful instrument and not one to be neglected like this. With Tim Commerford on Bass duties, I know it definitely won’t be. Bassist for Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, this guy is the king of melodic, funky, alterna-rock basslines. Despite this being quite a narrow category, it’s one that he really does truly own. Ok, in terms of alterna-rock funk, the crown goes to Flea, but it’s moments like the intro to RATM’s Calm Like A Bomb that earn Tim his place in my superband. He’ll probably have to drop the effects box to fit into the sound, but that will just make his great playing easier to hear.
Lead Guitar: This is where I get controversial. The lead guitarist I have picked isn’t a true guitar virtuoso, or even particularly a big name in their own right. However, the perfect guitarist for this band is coming in and breaking the boys club it is becoming so far, as this superband needs the axe stylings of Allison Robertson. The lead guitarist The Donnas has an irresistible classic rock style, drawn from bands like AC/DC, The Ramones and Kiss, but rather than being big headed and pretentious, her playing style is just a hell of a lot of fun. Chords are big and full, solos are fast and fun, and lead lines fit in brilliantly with everything else that’s going on. My superband has a little bit of classic rock lean, and Allison forms the heart of that sound.
Vocals (and Rhythm Guitar): Ok, this band is lacking two things. The first one is star power, the second is a killer front man. This is why we need to call in the services of Dave Grohl. While starting his career as a drummer, Dave has really made it as the singer and guitarist for Foo Fighters. He can disarm you with sweet tones, or scream straight through you, all the while maintaining a sound that very few people will object to. His skilled rhythm playing will round out the sound too, giving Allison the backing she needs for her solos, and help come up with some really memorable riffs to get this band in the public eye and ear. Also, on the subject of singing, all the other band members have had to handle backing vocal duties in their original bands, so there’s potential for some great harmonies and multi-vocal stabs.
I know none of this would ever happen, but it’s a lot of fun to think about and try to put together. Now the question is, who would you want in yours?