The one upside to all this HB 2 nonsense is the way people from across the spectrum have come together—a process that has made strange bedfellows of PayPal, the NCAA, and Cirque du Soleil. That show of unity began in April with an artist boycott that went national with Bruce Springsteen and came to include a veritable hall of fame of other acts. It's almost unimaginable that a band would enter this climate motivated solely by a desire to exploit the vacuum left by these multiple cancellations. But this year, what's going too far, really? To One More Wish, a bunch of washed-up third-raters who enjoyed a blip of regional success back in the pre-Y2K, post–Brit pop bubble, it's a chance to get back in the game. Rebranded as 1MW, this uniquely untalented crew has done what most crappy boy bands have had the decency not to do: get back together and inflict their insipid but diabolically catchy songs on us once again. To their credit, though, 1MW ascribes to one of the essential tenets of boy band-dom: a total tool is pulling the strings. We sat down, and Skyped, with the reconstituted foursome and talked about Rachel hair-dos, moral compasses, and what they would do if they found themselves standing next to Simon Le Bon.
INDY: So your breakout year was 1998, the year of the boy band.
Eric (lead vocals): I don't think that we as a band knew what the word zeitgeist meant until recently, but apparently we captured that a long time ago.
Ray (manager): We're a little more about schadenfreude, anyway.
The genre gets knocked a lot. Is there an art to it that people just don't appreciate?
Ray: I suppose so. Everybody knows that success is measured monetarily. I mean, all this stuff about happiness is horseshit. When you look at the bottom dollar of a band that did a little better than we did, like *NSYNC or 98 Degrees, the numbers speak for themselves. Luck is a big part of it. Maybe fortune didn't smile on us quite as much as it did on a band like Backstreet Boys, and it could just be because, you know, we weren't at the right drugs party at the right time.
- Photo by Ben McKeown
Let's talk influences. Who are your boy band idols?
Jon G (guitar): I'm glad you asked that, and I've been deeply meditating on what it means to be a boy band in the first place. I would argue that all bands other than Heart and the Spice Girls and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are indeed boy bands. My favorite boy band is The Beatles.
Arya (keyboards): I'm basically doing this for money. I would say that my favorite boy band would be Radiohead.
So, you're reforming to do a tour of North Carolina venues when bands are all pulling out because of HB 2. What would you say to those who call this reunion nothing but a cynical cash grab?
Ray: I say they're right. You know that scene in This Is Spinal Tap where Nigel Tufnel asks what's wrong with being sexy? Everybody laughed at that. But I thought that was one of the deepest moments of the whole film. I've yet to understand what's wrong with a cynical cash grab. I mean, is this not America? America is a cynical cash grab. So in a way, there's nothing more American than what we're doing right now.
That's one way of looking at it. But iconic boy bands like Maroon 5, bands that are like, better than you, have canceled—
Ray: As people?
That's not for me to say.
Eric: We've had a lot of band meetings about how to handle questions like this. One of the points of view that Ray pushed really hard at us was: this is a brand new law. What happens if it turns out to be the best law ever? We don't know. I'm not saying it is.
Ray: I would say the majority of people in the fledgling United States probably thought it was a bad idea to separate from Great Britain, as well. I think that book's been written.
So, if you found yourselves waiting on a line for a bathroom that conformed to the gender on your birth certificate, next to Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, who also canceled an appearance in North Carolina, you would be fine saying, "We're doing it for a cash grab"?
- Photo courtesy of the band
Ray: I think the first thing I'd say to Simon Le Bon is thank you very much, because if you hadn't canceled your show we wouldn't have been able to swoop in and take your show.
One of your hits says, "The heart is not a toy/You can't play it like a GameBoy." Do you believe that?
Ray: That's one of the few lyrics I didn't write for the band, and in fact I voted against that lyric.
Ray: Because it's incorrect. The heart is a lot like a toy or a GameBoy. Jon, since you wrote that line, do you want to field that question?
- Photo courtesy of the band
Jon G: Well, the heart does have an A button and a B button and a directional pad. And if you think about the amount of hearts that we're going to be playing in a positive way, by touching them with our music, perhaps it's for the greater good that we are playing these hearts like a GameBoy.
Ray: I guess we're more into heart aggregation than looking at the individual heart. Would you say so, Jon?
Jon G: Uh ... yes. Consciousness shifts and crystals and ... Yes.
Eric: Like a GameBoy, I think that anger can also run out of batteries.
Johnny Rotten said anger is an energy. But you guys aren't exactly punks anyway.
Ray: I'd reject the notion that we're not punk. I mean, we're clearly anti-establishment at what we're doing right now. What do the kids say? "Punk as fuck" or something like that? That's the most punk as fuck thing that anybody's done, I mean recently. Who else is protesting anything right now really?
- Photo courtesy of the band
- Jon G
Let's do some word association: "comeback."
Ray: True rockers never really stop rocking. That's what the final line of "Hotel California" is really about. We didn't really leave; we just maybe checked out for a little while.
Eric: You say critics; I say ... crickets. Because they make a lot of noise, but eventually they get easy to tune out.
Ray: And they're easy to kill, too.
I noticed you don't have any new music.
Ray: We're very aware of the fact that nobody wants to hear new material on a tour like this. We're playing hits. I think LCD Soundsystem had a video called Shut Up and Play the Hits. And the ironic thing about that is that they neither shut up, nor did they just play the hits. And so our goal is to do what LCD Soundsystem didn't have the balls to do. In their case, they're taking shows from other bands. In our case, we're filling a void that needs to be filled. I reject the notion that LCD Soundsystem has some sort of moral compass and we don't. I think it's exactly the opposite.
So, someone's gotta fill the void?
Ray: One More Wish: we're here to fill your void.
- Photo by Ben McKeown
- One More Wish aka 1MW
Wish in One Hand
One More Wish is a fraud—and not just artistically. But just like a real boy band, this fake one was dreamt up by someone else, in this case, Will Chambliss and a few writers at McKinney who seized on the absurdity of HB 2 to concoct an absurdity of their own: a third-rate boy band that re-forms solely to capitalize on the concert venues left empty by artists protesting HB 2.
McKinney, a worldwide ad agency based in Durham, has been vocal in its opposition to HB 2. In April, the group had the first part of the House bill printed on rolls of toilet paper and disseminated them at Moral Monday protests.
Seizing on the idea that the artist boycott was the first major headline from post-HB 2 North Carolina, Chambliss and producer Frank Sun worked over the "boycott band" pun with director Habib Yazdi and producer Chau Mui, and dreamed up four blinkered boobs and a mercenary-minded manager who see the travesty of HB 2 as a second chance for riches and fame.
To make this idea into a sort of reality, a band had to be assembled to play the parts of these wannabes: Alex Maiolo (Ray), Owen Fitzgerald (Eric), Andy Becker (Dan), Jon Gartner (Jon G), and Arya Ghavamian (Arya). Songs had to be written—bad songs, cloying earworms full of dated references to Y2K and Rachel hair-dos. Locations had to be secured for the film. People had to eat. It took a village, and the village came through in an effort that united actors, musicians, ad people, and local businesses. The songwriting collective Storefront Music concocted repellently catchy tunes like "Hit Me (On My Pager)" and "JNKA Jeans." A diverse group, including Rock's Bar and Hair Shop, Fidelitorium Recordings, Rumors Boutique, and the Ridgewood Pool, supplied shooting locations in service of the volunteer film crew and cast. The happy result is the truly This Is Spinal Tap-worthy mockumentary Boycott Band: The Return of One More Wish. (Watch it and find concert dates at www.boycottbandfilm.com.)
So, what is the point of all this really? What should people do once they've spent some time with these deluded hacks? It's really simple: vote the bums out of office.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Boycott Boyband"