Building The Perfect Rock n Roll Supergroup
While driving Ruth home from work the other day, the Rock Report guys on CFOX (the local rock station) was interviewing the bass player from Bad Religion and asked him who he’d put in the ultimate rock band, alive or dead. I liked his answers in a lot of cases, but it got me thinking about what I’d build for a band if I could have any players to pick from.
At first glance, this is an easy task; you pick your favorites on each instrument and away you go. Except…I don’t have single favorites on any instrument; the only two pieces I could say “yeah…that’s the guy, no question, no ties, no one else” were drums and keyboard. The reason it’s those two instruments is because in my limited knowlege of them, there is one guy on each who is more versatile, creative, and just plain more fun to watch than anyone else.
The difficulty starts with the bass guitar. At first thought, into my head pops Mike Watt for his crazy freedom and creativity while holding down the beat, Fieldy from Korn for his massive low end of death, Les Claypool of Primus cuz, well he’s Les Claypool and no one plays like him technically or sonically, Flea cuz he gots the funk, plus he has cool clothes, and Robert Trujillo formerly of Suicidal Tendencies, with Metallica of late, cuz he’s sooooo cool looking and rocks harder than anyone. After further meditation on the subject, it occurred to me that Les Claypool and Fieldy were too stylized into one mold, plus being kind of band leader bassists neither would fit too well into an ensemble other than their own, so they got ousted. Mike Watt is maybe not technically as solid as Trujillo and Flea so he got ousted too.
Next up…the vocals. This is the face of a band – the front line; no matter who else is in it, at the end of the day people are going to love you or hate purely based on the singer. Every other instrument is replaceable, the vox is the most easily recognizable piece of your sound. Too me there are few total stand out vocalists in rock today or ever, but each of those few are all special in their own way. Freddie Mercury was untouchable, completely, for range, skill and emotion. No one can deny that. Freddie’s replacement in Queen Paul Rodgers is equally untouchable, but more specifically in the blues rock genre, not as over all as Mercury. Jim Morrison was not technically as good, but sooo recognizable and utterly fearless.
All three of those guys lost out for me to newer guys tho, just cuz I like the newer music more. Chris Cornell is the best living singer in rock, in my opinion, and a hell of an entertainer too. And he’s versatile, having played in one of the biggest bands of the 90s and one of the biggest bands of the 2000’s, plus as a bonus he has some super group experience. And he’s got one of the coolest homepages. Jonathon Davis of Korn changed my world; he has a disturbing style that’s both vulnerable abuse victim and angry cookie monster and kind of changed metal for a couple years . If you hear him talk he totally doesn’t fit his singing voice. Maybe a bit too much of a drama queen for the supergroup tho… Plus whipping out the bagpipes in a jam session would be grounds for expulsion and death. Maynard James Keenan is the new voice of thinking man’s rock. His unique phrasing and styles and his ability to pull passages from all kinds of different ethnic musics make him a serious force to be reckoned with. Plus I think from what I’ve read that he’s a pretty smart guy. And he can multi task, being in two large bands at the same time. Apparently does comedy too, always a bonus. Finally, the newest singer in my personal favorites list is Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Stone Sour. This guy can scream and growl as good or better than Jonathon Davis and sing melody like Chris Cornell. Also a multitasker, he was up for two grammy’s in two different bands this year! That’s a feat. Mike Patton and Amy Lee get honorable mentions, but don’t quite make the cut to the finals.
So after fighting thru those two positions, finally I come to guitar. Being a guitar player and fan, I have alot of vested interest in guitar, and tend to know a fair number of players and styles. I decided this would be a two guitar band cuz there were just so many choices. Do you go 80’s wheedly wheedly guys or do you go more all round players who maybe aren’t as technical? In the end I took out the Yngwie Malmsteens and Steve Vai’s and Joe Satriani’s in favor of players who are technically good but not so technical that the groove is built around them.
No ultimate band can be created without looking at Eddie Van Halen on guitar. He literally changed rock and roll music and the way guitar is played, and very very few people can claim that about any skill. He’s the Wayne Gretzky of guitar. But…he’s mean to singers I think…he changes singers like most of us change socks. I figure there’s a possibility he’s a bit mercurial. Next guy for me is Tom Morello. Here’s another guy who changed the instrument, and the guy who is singlehandedly responsible for Digitech selling a billion Whammy Pedals. I bought one too. He can play any rock style as we’ve seen with Rage and Audioslave, and now he’s doing an acoustic folk thing as well. A force to be reckoned with. Jim Root is in both Slipknot and Stone Sour. Although the lead guitar duties in Slipknot are carried by the amazing Mick Thompson, Jim Root seems to me to be more versatile, playing in both bands. Plus he wears a cool mask. Next up is Daron Malakian. He doesn’t play guitar so much as he plays Armenian mandolin on the guitar. Very cool and unique phrasing and structures, and cool tatoos to boot. Maybe a bit too one sided for the supergroup though. Zakk Wylde is a rare breed on guitar; an actual master of the instrument. He plays hard rock, southern rock, lead and rhythm and his tone is freaking huge. He’s versatile, and from all reports everyone who meets him likes him. That or they’re intimidated into saying nice things cuz he’s a big dude with a crazy ass beard… And finally, Slash. Man, when Appetite for Destruction came out, I was so impressed to hear a guitarist who actually played his solo’s to the song and did it so well. He became a massive influence on my tone and playing style, and if I could touch his skill I’d be a happy player. And he’s got supergroup experience.
Ok, so I left some people out; Randy Rhoads, Frank Zappa, James Hetfield, Gary Moore, Kim Thayhill, Jeff Beck, numerous blues and jazz guys I like… All of those guys are influences, but not all of them fit the super group mystique, I don’t think.
So…after all that who did I pick for my super group? Keep in mind, this is my opinion, and it’s really not worth more than it’s weight in shit in the grand scheme of things, but it is my opinion. Feel free to put your own group in the comments
- Drums – Dave Grohl… no doubt about it.
- Keyboards – Trent Reznor. Does anyone else actually play them?
- Bass – Flea. In the end he had to win. He plays trumpet too.
- Guitar 1 – Tom Morello . He’s just too good to ignore
- Guitar 2 – Slash. Can he play with Tom Morello? I think they’d be interesting foils for each other.
- Vocals – Maynard James Keenan. Had to go with Maynard. You can never go wrong with tool. And I figured since Tom Morello was there, Chris Cornell couldn’t be there too.
There you have it. Twitchy’s supergroup du jour. Ask me tomorrow and it may change.