Question of the Week

Not Question Of The Week: In Defense of the BulletBoys (And Other Olds Who Keep Hangin Around)

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Hey metal people! It’s me Anso DF, what’s up! Thanks for joining me for this week’s Question Of The Week! The thing is, our crack staff is on vacation from the QOTW beat til next week. And once you read today’s question, you too are free to take a breather from weighty discussions and brain-stretching hypotheticals — so just mellow out and consider stuff. Then again, you may have a comment about how I, Anso DF, answer this NQOTW by myself! Here it is: 

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Inspired by the puzzling, lingering presence of bands that no one can recall the point of, I asked myself the following:

We shouldn’t be hearing about bands like the BulletBoys in 2013, so why are we?

That’s a weird question and leads to sub-questions, so I’ll explain:

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Anso DF qotwANSO DF
Here in 2013, when a random old band like the BulletBoys makes news, it may cause a small silent groan in your mind. You think, who cares? No hyperbole, does anyone care? Has anyone ever cared? Shut up already, I’m busy here!

Something like that?

Like, think back to June when MetalSucks co-stud Axl Rosenberg reported that BulletBoys singer Marq Torien‘s fancy pants were on the e-auction block for $7,000. Seven grand?!

Or recall Wednesday’s unsourced story at Sleaze Roxx in which Torien is quoted raving about the band’s forthcoming reality show pilot for VH1. Um what? A pilot? On TV? About the BulletBoys? NOW? VH-1 in America???

That’s a total knee-slapper/eye-roller, right? But the BulletBoys were an awesome band to a few dudes for a few years, so that’s why a tiny number of us care even now. It’s not exactly a good reason to care (i.e., a band was a cult hit a million years ago), and the circle of life demands that the dead be discarded, but maybe you are comforted by the knowledge that they once earned their profile?

So, if you’ve racked your brains or cried to heavens like, “Why is this aged dinosaur band a part of my consciousness?” then here, have a listen, it’ll bring order to the chaos. I’ll point out some stuff, maybe u jam?

1. Marq Torien was an awesome singer

When they discover my BulletBoys worship, few dudes in metal can pass on the opportunity to privately jeer frontman Marq Torien; they joke that he’s a knock-off of David Lee Roth, he lies about his age, he behaves like a pill-crazed cat lady, and much much more. But dude, no one has ever called him a no-talent. Ever! Cuz like him or don’t (or really don’t), he’s a hall of famer for Skills. Check out his godlike pre-autotune performances in “1-800-GOODBYE” (quaint title alert!) and “F#9” (below). Whoa this shit is real:

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2. The BulletBoys philosophy on backing vocals is amazing

Like Lillian Axe and Skid Row, B-Boys busted out of their glossy genre via snarling, crabby backing vocals, like if Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen harmonized while seated on a broken bottle. That’s a big deal cuz the era’s standard was big, fake synth-vox. The sass is one of my favorite things about them.

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3. Uhh get a load of guitarist Mick Sweda, another HOFer

A typical guitar guy loves a lot of ace axemen, but a special section in our halls of fame is devoted to players whose style flummoxes us. In other words, among the group of super-skilled guitarists, there’s a subgroup of guys whose notes are hard to picture. It’s like I can’t plug in and just play it — but not just cuz it’s hard, just cuz it’s so specifically personal to its inventor. (Like, if you slipped into a pair of their jeans, I’d have to make alterations and maybe even put them on backward at first.) On this list are heroes like T-Ride’s Geoff Tyson, Piggy (RIP) from Voivod, or the dudes in Thought Industry. Here I’ll submit Mick Sweda too; he’s so chord-y, all weird shapes and surprise attacks on a song’s root notes. Could u tab out this jam in less than a week?:

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4. The BulletBoys were next-level in a way

In 1989, if you heard some hype about a new band that looks like Van Halen, works with VH’s producer, and works for the same major label as VH, well you’d find it easy to characterize them as a clone of Van Halen. That’s fair. But truly the resemblance is only cosmetic, for B-Boys were raunchier, dirtier, meaner, and way less ear-friendly. No comparison. Torien’s a better singer than David Lee Roth (though voice-wise he’s doubly phlegmy); Sweda’s riffs are skronky, angular boogie-woogie that’s elusive like a stranger poking you on a crowded train; their rad rhythm section opted to use their powers of swing way more often than did Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony. So forget the VH thing. In fact, their big similarity to VH is that each is a band apart from the herd if you look closely. Real players will note their advanced chops in this jam:

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Okay that’s my spiel! It’s cool if u never jam BulletBoys — or any other ancient band that doesn’t make tons of sense in today’s context and in relation to what’s now hot. But it might ease your ‘confusion pains’ to know that many of them (not all) mattered once and probably created a bit of magic — and that’s why you’re stuck hearing about them. What bands do u wish would go the fuck away? Is it okay for fans to never let go? What bands will you stick with at the depressing 20-year mark of their withered but significant career? What if everybody’s tastes double-back for that band’s music someday? See u next week!

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