Let’s Build An Album!

July 27th, 2012

For those of you who’ve been following along at home, a number of Figment players recently collaborated on a fake band called “Victor Rossi & His Big Fat Posse”.  So we’ve built the band, now what?  Is it over?  Do we just fold up shop and add the logo to some lame Pinterest page? No, of course not!

I think the next step is pretty obvious, we’ve got to create an album for that band!  And if we can build a band, we can certainly build an album!  So who’s with me?

Some of you have already agreed to participate, but we’d love to get some more of you involved, so if you are interested please leave a comment below!

A Furious Heavyweight

July 18th, 2012

FuriousGrace is one of the best players on Figment.  Why?  Because her bands are so multi-layered and well realized that you half expect them to walk right off their band page and strike up a conversation with you.  She has that incredible ability to take something that’s not real and with a quick turn of phrase breath life into it.

For a good example look no further than her band Cherry Vendetta, who not only became the first all-girl band to top the Figment Hot Albums chart, but did it four straight times.  In fact the band became so successful, that FuriousGrace was able to take one of it’s members, x-muffin-x, and make her a chart-topping solo artist as well.   And then there’s Squidbitchez, who took us through the pains of drug addiction, made us glad they came out the other side, and scored a #1 single to boot.  Get the picture?

So how does she do it?  Well, her album covers are simple, but incredibly effective.  From the choice of font to the cover image and even the album’s title, they fit the band they’re designed for, perfectly.  Her band’s taglines (including the classic “Screw you Billy, Look who’s a rock star now!”), band bios, and album descriptions all reinforce the band’s image and believability.  In short, if someone showed you the band page for one of her bands, you’d be hard pressed to figure out they’re not real.

Add to that the 3 Figgies she’s taken home (Cherry Vendetta 1 and x-muffin-x 2), her 2nd place finish in the Visual Vitriol Contest, and her willingness to collaborate with other Figment players on albums, mash-ups, label deals and tours, and you’ve got a player with some serious chops.

But what is really special is that FuriousGrace has created several bands fronted by strong, intelligent, and empowered women.  Women who leap off the page and claim rock n’ roll as their own.  With that in mind, it’s only fitting that she have the honor of being the first female player to ever be named an Industry Heavyweight.  She joins an illustrious group of Figment players who have been named Industry Heavyweights, so congrats FuriousGrace, you deserve it!  We’ll be depositing 15,000 pieces of lucre in your account as our way of saying thanks for all of your hard work.

We’d also like to thank formerwageslave for all of the great work he’s done over the past few months as an Industry Heavyweight.

“The true story of a rock ‘n’ roll band that you’ve never heard of”, is the subtitle of Tommy Womack’s book “Cheese Chronicles”.  The band you’ve never heard of is Kentucky rock group Government Cheese which Womack co-founded in 1985.  It’s an apt subtitle, because I’d ever heard of them until Let’s Not and Say We Did mentioned them in a recent interview. I  knew of Womack from his work with another musician I follow, Will Kimbrough, but I had no idea he’d been in Government Cheese.  Having now read “Cheese Chronicles” it’s an oversight I aim to correct.

“Cheese Chronicles” is a brutally honest and funny look at what it’s like to be in an indie rock band from it’s inception to its untimely end.  Sure there’s the typical rock bio mentions of sex and drugs, but unlike many other rock memoirs it’s never gratuitous, and in the case of Government Cheese seems more a by-product of years on the road than any formal band credo or ethos.  Womack’s writing is full of wit and sarcastic humor, but it’s abundantly clear from the opening page of the book that he and his band mates were serious about pursuing their dreams.

“In 1985, three other guys and I – in Kentucky, of all places – formed a band, hitched our sled to the rock and roll dream, and screamed mush from the pits of our souls.  We had nothing going for us save a vehement, greasy, turbo-psychotic vision of how things might turn out, and we went for it.  It is good to pursue an outlandish dream.  Latch on to the wild dogs.  Grab that whip and yee-hell-hah!  Eventually the sled comes out from under you, and from that point on, you either run like hell or you get your face dragged all over God’s creation, scraping on rocks and bouncing off the sides of trees.  There will be great incidence of contusions, highway motel dog breath and bottle-ringed cocktail napkin blitherscribble.  Things move faster and faster.  Everything you packed for the trip – relationships, standards, your future – gets tossed or bounced off somewhere, and all the while you know you can stop at any time, just by letting go of the dream.  Under no circumstances whatsoever do you let go of the dream.”

If that’s not the best preface to a book, I don’t know what is.  “Cheese Chronicles” is an unvarnished look at what it’s like to be in a working band.  From the highs of a perfect gig to the lows of a bad contract that left the band feeling like indentured slaves, Womack serves the truth straight up, no chaser.  In fact, he seems hell bent on owning up to the fact that the band was often their own worst enemy.  Regardless, I came away a fan, because it’s clear these guys not only enjoyed making music together, but also went after their dream with no regrets, and that’s admirable.

In the end it’s too bad Government Cheese never made it big, but then maybe that’s the point.

This is a new feature here on Figment News where I’ll highlight a real band that I wish I’d made up.  You know, as a fake band.  Make sense?  No?  That’s half the point.  Stop thinking and start rockin’!

I love the idea of two bands that are similar but different at the same time collaborating on an album together.  BXI is a perfect example.  Take one part Japanese experimental rock band that likes to combine drone metal, sludge metal, noise rock, psychedelic rock, ambient and pop, and add to them a quintessential hard rock howler and front man.  The Japanese experimental rock band?  None other than the heaviest band in Japan – Boris.  The howler?  Ian Astbury, lead singer of The Cult, Holy Barbarians and The Doors of the 21st Century.  Mix this concoction up and you’ve got one potent rock band. Enjoy, but remember to listen responsibly.