This week, we consider the ideal world – one where our fantasies are real and life are everything we imagine it to be. The music industry has bred a long line of magnificent bands, some spanning the course of time and others meeting an earlier, tragic demise. Whether it be through artistic chemistry, good looks, or temperamental alchemy, the best bands pull together unique forces to produce something enchanting.
It’s an amalgamation of parts – vocals, instruments, tenacity – that makes the whole a memorable mark. Generally, bands come together through their own will or often at the behest of a label executive or manager who can foresee something inevitable. If the people had a say in the matter, however, the outcome might be slightly different.
We asked this week’s Discovery Artist, New York, pop-electro duo Telephoned, who their fantasy band would be and here is what they put together:
“Frontwoman/Lead Vocals (Maggie’s choice) – Lady Miss Kier (of Deee-lite) circa 1994; Bass (Sammy’s choice) – Larry Graham of Sly & the Family Stone; Lead Guitar/Vocals (Maggie’s Choice) – Dave 1 of Chromeo; Drums (Sammy’s Choice) – DJ Shadow.
Dave 1 would be singing co-lead not background, and the band would definitely only make one record. They’ll be like Velvet Revolver – only meant to make an album before parting ways. They’re a super-group, which by definition, can only do one record.”
And now, here’s a look at what the BreakThru Radio staff had to say about their fantasy acts…
DJ Hanabi’s band:
“Bowie, Lou Reed, Freddie Mercury on vocals; Phil Collins also on vocals, but he plays the drums too; Sting plays the bass and also sings as does Roger Waters; Elton John plays the keys and also sings. No Guitars. Guitarists have far too much attitude.
In 1977, the band recorded exactly half an album and played one show. As the show progressed, the engineers eventually had to turn down the individual mics as the vocal one-upsmanship rose to such a crescendo that amplification became unneeded in the 60,000-seat arena. Internally, I’ve never seen a bigger mess in all my life. These male divas battled for everything from the best bunk on the bus (eventually necessitating several individual busses, over which they all fought) to who had the most expansive and extravagant tour rider. By the 3rd song in the set, their agents all required that they be placed in isolation booths (presumably because Freddie was accused of stealing all the high notes from Sting) or they wouldn’t finish the song. Despite the arrogance at even the thought of such a “super-group” they sounded like angels on high.”
DJ Drew’s band:
“Drums: Joe Tomino (Dub Trio, Matisyahu’s Band – Best drummer I’ve ever seen live. Tightest meter I’ve ever seen on a drummer too without feeling like a drum machine plus incredibly inventive with tasty improvisation.) He’s the shit. Bass: Mike Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE, current bassist for Iggy and The Stooges) – my favorite living music legend and so versatile. Lead Guitar – Dean Ween (of Ween) face-melting guitar playing while still having a great sense of a song and a totally unique approach to his instrument. Lead Vocals – Gene Ween (of Ween…can’t have one without the other) – favorite songwriter and creative mind in music. My hero really. Smart yet silly with so many different vocals styles… plus he is weird.
DJ Adi’s band:
“I think after this year’s Big 4 madness, a dream band would be a combo of the four. We’ll take Charlie Benante from Anthrax on drums and Scott Ian from Anthrax on guitar; Kirk Hammett from Metallica would be on guitar as well and we’ll take Dave Mustaine from Megadeth on vocals and a 3rd guitar, and Tom Arroyo from Slayer on vocals and bass.
The music would be an impeccable mesh of the Big R thrash metal bands of all time, and would have fans salivating at each show with one look at these legends. The personalities would work well for the most part, maybe Dave Mustaine would have a fit here and there and try and take over the band. Benante and Ian would put their arm around his shoulders at this point, and prevent it from blowing up. The band would release two epics albums, which would naturally be greeted with much fervor, and then tour the world. It would all come to an end when The Big 4 decide to tour all of the US with the original members, hence disintegrating this amazing lineup.
DJ Wynn’s band:
“My ideal band would have people that are alive. Win Butler (Arcade Fire) and Bjork (Bjork) are the leads and principal songwriters. They both have deft hands at producing and song structure as well. Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) would play guitar, be eccentric and make awkward comments during the live shows. Les Claypool (formerly Primus) would be the Johnny Marr of the group, and on drums would be Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones) just because I like how business-like his scrunched up lips look when he’s performing live.
At first, a young and old clique naturally formed, but then Les and Charlie scored some good stash in Bloomington and won over the bunch. Their fans would be the older dads on the fringe, who name drop Radiohead around their son’s friends and have this band’s debut on vinyl. After two records, Bjork would want to take a hiatus to invent new instruments, Win would miss his old flames, Bradford would want to start a new project called Tap Water, Les would join MGMT, and Charlie finally would retire. The band plays one last show at his retirement party in Ibiza which is televised, and has 51 million viewers just beating Magnum P.I.‘s finale but just missing out on Survivor’s 1st season when that naked guy Richard Hatch won. Oh, and Bjork wears a funny looking dress.”
DJ Wayne Ski’s band:
“Drummer – Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) – Tommy is awesome. His drum solos are incredible and he can play upside down! Not to mention the girls dig him. Bass – Bootsy Collins – Started in the early funk days playing for James Brown then moved on to Parliament Funkadelic. If you need to hear how great he is listen to “Sex Machine” by James Brown. Lead Singer/Guitar – Jimi Hendrix. He played the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. He took chances with guitar that nobody else dared. His voice is eerie and soulful at the same time.
The bands name is ON. They came up with the name after how they were always on the same page musically. They started touring in a van taking turns driving state to state. They made it to NY to perform at the legendary CBGB’s in the Lower East Side. They signed to a major label release to “Get Off Me.” Even though popular for their gritty rock and soul fusion, the album never made mainstream charts. They keep touring and eventually women, drugs and nonstop partying led to the demise of the group.”
Carly Shields’ band:
“A band is a full blown operation, not just the few people on stage playing instruments, so I’ve decided to pick out my favorite musicians and others who help make it all possible. My lyricists would be Robert Hunter and Ryan Montbleau. Hunter was the poet who took Grateful Dead music to the next level with his lyrical depth and creativity. Without him, the Dead would not have had the extensive catalogue and highly respected archive of original songs. Montbleau is a young artist not even discovered by mainstream media… yet. His words flow flawlessly out through his comfortable and genuine music and describe events and emotions that everyone feels, yet no one can explain.
My lead guitarist would also be Jimi Hendrix, no surprise there, he is probably the best guitarist of the last 60 years, but my rhythm guitarist would be George Harrison, because he was a genius and completely underestimated. My bassist would be Les Claypool, because he’s an amazingly creative and stand-out bass player, and would add the weirdest element to this fantasy band.
On keys I would have Dr. John, a wild blues-funk musician who’s been performing since the 1970’s. On drums, Jon Fishman from Phish because he comes up with some nasty rhythms and has dynamics like no other drummer I know, but I would also have Joe Russo, a solo artist currently playing with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in Furthur, because he can tear it up. Then there would be Grace Potter on vocals with John Lennon, and Jeff Austin on mandolin, just to play hard and fast on top of probably the craziest sound ever.
I would also have Chris Koruda be my lighting director, the LD for Phish and one of the most sought after light display designers in live music. Pink Floyd would produce the album and/or show, and lastly, all my friends and family would be the audience because it’s my fantasy band and that’s what I want.”
John and Molly Jane Knefel’s band:
“Lead Singer and lyrics: Craig Finn (the Hold Steady); Beats and lyrics: P.O.S.; Guitar and other Co-Lead-Singer and lyrics: Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes).
Craig Finn and P.O.S. are both from Minneapolis, so we think they’d get along and have a lot of lyrical continuity. Conor Oberst might have a little trouble fitting in, because he’s more singer-songwriter-y, while Craig Finn is more rocker-y and P.O.S. is hip hop. Craig Finn and Conor Oberst are both the main creative forces of their own bands, so their might be a few battles of ego there. But combined, this band would have incredible beats, three of the greatest lyricists around, and three incredible unique voices. They would appeal to Minneapolis music dorks, like John and I, and general Midwest music dorks, since Oberst is from Omaha. If the band met its demise, it would be because the three creative geniuses wouldn’t see eye to eye, because, really, their music styles are all incredibly different. But so good!
DJ Thompson’s band:
My fantasy band requires time travel or some kind of resurrection machine. I would have the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac quash the inter-coastal beef thing by going on a “Love Bug” tour in a Volkswagen bug across the United States spreading a message of love and brotherhood – spreading the “luv bug” if you will. They would both rap.
DJ Madalyn’s band:
“George Harrison on guitar; Tom Verlaine on guitar; Kim Gordon on bass; Craig Finn on vocals; Tommy Ramone on drums.
I’d love to see what would happen with the three guitar innovators, plus the poetry and rawness of Lifter Puller era Craig Finn’s lyrical poetry and the frenetic punk drumming of Tommy Ramone.”
DJ Jack Rabid’s band:
“For vocals, I think I would take Otis Redding. What a set of pipes! For bass, I like Paul McCartney, he was the first lead bassist. Just for “Hey Bulldog” and “If You’ve Got Troubles” alone, he defined the position for all time. For guitar, I like Greg Sage of the Wipers – an absolute genius of the position, like a less blues Hendrix. If I get two guitars in this band, I think I will take Link Wray. I loved his style and sound, like a crazier Les Paul. For piano, I like Jerry Lee Lewis, a real stunner of a player. For drums, I will take Dave Ruffy, the Ruts drummer – explosive, technically brilliant, always had the right part, perfect time.
Everyone I think would mesh well except Jerry Lee Lewis and Greg Sage. Lewis would probably break up the band in a week from pure volatility, and Sage is really a go-it-alone type, real self-reliant, not sure he’d want to be in a group where it wasn’t purely his. And McCartney could go either way, either very supportive or very dominating. Ruffy is and Redding was absolute gentlemen who can/could play with anyone. They probably shared their blocks well in pre-school, and learned their modesty there too.”
DJ Latola’s band:
“Gonjasufi on vocals; Prince on guitar; Questlove on drums; Thundercat or Kevin Barnes on bass; Producer: Flying Lotus or Toro Y Moi.
Gonjasufi has a voice like no one else, and the man can use it in a variety of ways. His Warp debut, A Sufi And A Killer, finds him rapping, crooning, bellowing, whisper-singing, growling like a punkish kid, harmonizing, dropping the deep Barry White shit, whatever, it’s all in there (like the bible, ha)…I think Prince’s guitar skills are without question. Also, the Purple One could benefit from taking a break and being sideman, for a bit. Questlove’s track record is impeccable, and his ability to adapt to different styles is similar to Gonjasufi’s skills with singing. Plus, he records new shit almost every day.
Bass is very important here – I would go with either Thundercat, or, a surprise dark horse – Kevin Barnes. Both players bring the sex, and Barnes’ basslines in Of Montreal are both ill and under-acknowledged (see “Bunny Ain’t No Kind Of Rider”). Toro Y Moi has yet to produce anything I don’t like, and his style is evolving beautifully before our very ears. He fits this lineup well. Of course, Flying Lotus produces music that sounds five years ahead of its time, all the time, and I can’t think of anyone whose new shit I anticipate more. His production is like jazz; so much crazy shit can happens in a single minute, your brain can’t even attempt to absorb it all – it requires multiple listens.
DJ Emily’s band:
“Al Green – Vocals; Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine – Guitar; Jack White of The White Stripes – Guitar/Backing Vocals; P-Nut (Aaron Wills) of 311 – Bass (violin, upright bass); Animal of The Muppets – Drums.
Al Green has an incredible range and his voice is distinct and without compare. For that reason, I’ve chosen him as the frontman for my fantasy Band. Then I’d bring in Tom Morello on guitar. Morello came on the scene in the ’90s with a unique style on the guitar that helped define the sound of Rage Against the Machine. Not only can he play the guitar straight-up and shred with the best of them, he’s also able to incorporate feedback and toggle for a unique, multi-layered sound… no need for a DJ. Next, I’d bring in my favorite bassist of all time, P-Nut from 311. The man has some serious skills when it comes to slappin’ the bass. Aside from being talented on the 5-String bass, he’d also be able to contribute his skills on violin or upright bass.
For the next piece of the pie, I would bring in Jack White as the crust to hold the whole thing together. Supremely gifted in many genres and styles of music, White would take the lead role in coordinating all of the strange ingredients in my fantasy band. He would also provide back up vocals to Mr. Green and a steady guitar for a fuller sound. Finally, we’d bring in my fantasy drummer, which hands down would have to be Animal from the Muppets. My reasoning is simple… Stage presence.
DJ Mike G.’s band:
“Karin Dreijer Andersson (of The Knife/Fever Ray) and Thom Yorke on vocals (and guitar, for Thom Yorke), because they have some of the creepiest, most expressive voices and them duet-ing would be incredible. Explosions in the Sky as the backing band because I really dig their trippy/quiet to towering/heavy dynamics. Plus every note they play evokes so much feeling.Ethan Kath (of Crystal Castles) and Olof Dreijer (of The Kinfe) as DJs/ambient noisemakers, because they use electronic tools to make some of the most interesting and moving sounds and beats.
Most importantly, I want all of these people collaborating on songwriting. I love digital and analog sounds rubbing up against each other, so I think the combo of these particular electronic and rock artists collaborating would be mind-blowing. Also I think they’re all some of the best songwriters working today.”
DJ MOJO’s band:
“Horns: Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown; Drums: Billy Cobham, Craig Scanlon; Guitars: Gary Lucas, Snakefinger; Bass: Turner (from Clock DVA).”
DJ Moguls’s band:
“No vocals; Mandolin: Sam Bush; Dobro: Jerry Douglas; Guitar: Tony Rice; Bass: Jaco Pastorius; Banjo: Earl Scruggs”
DJ Pat’s band:
“Takeshi Terauchi on lead guitar; BBQ on rhythm guitar; James Jamerson on bass; Jay Reatard on drums; Andrew WK on piano; Guitar Wolf on vocals; with Holland-Dozier-Holland, George Clinton, and the guy from Pumice around for spiritual guidance.”
DJ RePete’s band:
“The band would include non-traditional instruments like the strings of a cello and/or violin or horns like trombone or trumpet. Music would be tough to replicate or cover with such a unique sound captured by the music of the unique instruments. Due to the many directions one could go from initial alt rock sounds, divisions would be created diving away band members.”
DJ Skymall’s band:
Vocals – Sade; Rhythm Guitar/Backing Vocals – Leadbelly; Lead Guitar – Wah Wah Wattson; Bass – Flea; Drums – Jimmy Chamberlin
I’m pretty sure this band, while not just being super happy and amazing, would simultaneously be dark and weird too. Each artist picked makes me smile, and while they can all play the lead role, I believe each would lend to the full-band listening experience.
DJ Audrey II’s band:
“I’d put Antony (Antony and the Johnsons) on vocals; The-Dream on backing vocals and beats; Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on guitar; and Dave Grohl on drums.
The-Dream and Antony would insist on writing every song, which would really make Dave and Justin mad, and would lead to the demise of this super group less than a week after conception. They will have produced one great R&B hit with really heavy drums.”