Jammin’ With Josh: The Look

This is Jammin’ With Josh. Each week I take a look at one of the bands that I love. Or perhaps it will be a band that I just discovered and think you should check out. Or maybe it will just be a way for me to post music videos. Honestly, no one will ever know.

Whoa, The Look? That is one of my all-time favorite bands! I would be willing to bet a dollar that someone saw the title and went “psh, I liked The Look’s earlier stuff, now they suck.”

Just kidding, this week’s post has to do with how musicians tend to take their look to an extreme. Instead of focusing on a specific band, I want to take a look at how some bands like to dress. I should probably mention that I am not criticizing how these people dress (well for the most part), they can wear whatever, it does not change my opinion on their music. What I am looking at is if they put a ton of effort into a certain look they have cultivated.

Many years ago I was watching something about the Goo Goo Dolls. Early on they were more of a 90s alt-rock/grunge type band. They dressed like all of the other bands in that genre. And yet they were not as popular as they had hoped. So they hired an image consultant. The consultant told them to focus more on the slower songs and to change their look. They started wearing button up shirts, cut their hair, playing to a slightly more mature, more feminine crowd.

I always found that interesting and it made me wonder how many other groups hired image consultants or stylists to help them develop “a look.” Look at a band like Incubus. Before Make Yourself, they had dreads and were a little bit heavier. And yet, the hair changed, the look changed, the music mellowed out a little. OR is that a product of them just getting older and more mature? I mean, look at Brandon Boyd. The guy on the left looks like some Rastafarian wannabe that you run into at Ocean City. And the one on the right looks like he would appear in Gap ads, perhaps singing an Elvis Costello song.

I read an interview with Aaron Lewis of Staind a long time ago in Rolling Stone. Lewis said that before joining the band, he was mostly playing accoustic stuff at coffee shops. He was into James Taylor type singer-songwriter, folk music. But then he joins a metal band (is Staind heavy metal? I will allow metal fans a chance to discuss) and the next thing you know he has tons of tattoos and piercings. Would people have enjoyed “Mudshovel” if Lewis were dressed like he was auditioning for Mumford & Sons? Probably not. And you realize that by me posting this video of “Outside”, that is now more Fred Durst than is probably legally allowed in one blog.

And finally we have probably the worst offenders of keeping to “a look”: the old guys who still think they are 20 years old. The worst person for this is Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. He is in his mid forties and yet he likes to dress like his mom got him a gift card for Hot Topic. I saw him on Real Time With Bill Maher a year or two ago, and he was on there with senators and whatnot. Everyone is wearing a suit, except Billie Joe. He is too cool for that shit. He was making good points, but it was hard to take him serious. At the very least, wear a sports coat with jeans. You do not have to be so committed to your look.

There are times when a musician will have to suck it up and just change the look. I watched a VH1 Behind the Music about Everclear and the episode mentioned how Art Alexakis  testified in front of Congress to help get some legislation to help children passed. And guess what? He dressed like an adult. He wore a suit. And you want to know something else? He is not the only one.

Elton John and Frank Zappa have spoken before Congress. They were able to put on a big boy suit and go in there and make their speech about something they were passionate about, and you know what happened? They were taken seriously.

Can you imagine if Elton showed up wearing one of his show outfits? Or if Frank Zappa wore…well whatever. I mean, it’s Frank Zappa. And yet this is how they dressed…

This post has reminded me of the line from Fight Club, where Tyler Durden says “you are not your fuckin’ khakis.”

Now most people seem to always think that Tyler is saying that you should not wear khakis or fancy work clothes. However, that was never how I really took his message.

I always thought he was saying that you should not define yourself by your clothes. It does not matter if they come from Gap or Goodwill. What matters is the integrity and character of the person in the clothes. I realize this probably seems a little contradictory to what it seems like my point was earlier, however, just hang with me for another second. And enjoy Tyler…

Come on, who doesn’t love that movie? And speakin’ of one of my favorite movies, what about a musical interlude from The Pixies…

Okay, back to me ranting about clothes.

It does not matter what a musician wears. If they truly want to wear JNCO jeans and t-shirts all the time, so be it. As long as they are doing it because that is what they want, not what some record executive says they should wear or some stylist chose for them. Do you think Dave Grohl has an image consultant who picks out his wardrobe? That guy does whatever he wants, even rocking a denim shirt.

Quick disclaimer: I do not hate any of the bands I have mentioned. Nor do you have to go out and find pictures of say Billie Joe Armstong wearing a suit. He was just the guy that came to mind because of the Bill Maher episode. I am sure you can think of others though (Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, you guys are like 100 years old, dress your damn age!).

Also, if you happen to be Dave Grohl’s image consultant…well damn, do not tell me, that would shatter my universe.

Should I end this post with a song? Yeah, I should definitely end it with a song.