So you wanna be a rock star

By Rob Granger

People are always complaining about how hard it is to predict what the "next big thing" in rock music will be. Well, kiddies, I’ve finally cracked the Enigma Code. Allow me to explain.

A couple of years ago, I held Eminem’s The Slim Shady EP in my hands. I couldn’t help but laugh at the crayon-written title and the half-assed graphic design in the booklet. Listening to the CD itself only increased my mirth. While at first I was offended by Eminem’s graphic and violent lyrics, I later discarded them as nothing more than the childish ramblings of a soon-to-be-forgotten, one-hit wonder, along with the likes of Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Nada Surf. Content that all was safe in the state of rock (after all, fellow no-talent white rapper Snow had fallen pretty hard just a few years before), I never gave Eminem/Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers a snowball’s chance in hell.

Well, he sure proved me wrong. Not only has Eminem sold millions of copies of his new disc, but he’s also managed to be dubbed "brilliant" by fans and reviewers alike.

Brilliant? How can anyone who shamelessly records fantasies about killing his wife be brilliant? The fact remains that, indeed, Eminem is brilliant. Brilliant at marketing himself. He’s not the world-class philosopher promoters have made him out to be, but he sure knows what sells: it’s the Alice Cooper principle. You can be a rock star too, if you just follow my guide to being popular.

Step 1: Find someone who’s already established and respected to produce your album. Frank Zappa, experimental musician extraordinaire, discovered and produced albums for dozens of novel and influential musicians. He produced Alice Cooper’s first album and was a major part in crafting the Alice Cooper image, which was given the name "shock rock." If the medium was the message, the message was "look out." Other big names such as Marilyn Manson (produced by Trent Reznor of NIN fame), Staind (produced by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit) and the infamous Eminem (produced by NWA mainstay Dr. Dre) all rode on their musical godfathers’ coat tails to some degree. If you want to be known without a huge amount of work, hook up with someone like Todd Rundgren or Ozzy Osbourne and get them to produce your magnum opus.

Step 2: Create an image that is the complete opposite to what you really are. Gene Simmons is the gentlest man you’ll ever meet, completely unlike his Knight In Satan’s Suit alter ego. Brian Warner/Marilyn Manson, although not Paul from the Wonder Years, is well-spoken and thinks that "God is the man." The point is: look angry, but don’t become angry. After all, you’re going to be rich and famous, so what’s there to be angry about? Anyway, find a look that works and stick to it. Use different textures in your clothing, like orange flannel and duct tape, and sing songs about death/alienation/rape/general nastiness. Listen to GWAR to get some ideas.

Step 3 (the most important step): Don’t believe the hype. You’ll be praised and hated, worshipped and condemned. But just stay true to your fake image, if you see what I mean. You’re doing it all for the nookie, right? Stick it out, get nominated for some Grammys, then prepare to be tossed aside into the Pile of 15 Minutes of Fame. And, voila. Instant stardom. You can thank me in the liner notes. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m jamming with my band tonight.

Our name? We’re called "Screw Commandment Six." Do you like it? You will.

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