Music News

Making the Band

What's in a lead singer? Audioslave and Velvet Revolver have gotten along quite nicely without their prima donna leaders, thank you very much. Certainly, the Mark Burnett-produced reality series Rockstar has become the television equivalent of the world's biggest band ad. After rescuing INXS's remaining members from oblivion, the second season of the show, Rockstar Supernova, will premiere on CBS this Wednesday, July 5, as adrift sidemen from vital acts of a decade ago scrounge for new careers.

The premise: Supernova, made up of drummer Tommy Lee (Mtley Crüe), bassist Jason Newsted (Metallica) and guitarist Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses), is searching for a lead singer. The three are hardly notable songwriters, but who needs songs when you're on TV for thirty-plus hours? Butch Walker, who penned Avril Lavigne's number-one hit "My Happy Ending," will co-write and produce the resulting album.

While looking for a singer via the personals might reek of desperation (the drumming Dirk Diggler's next big move could be porn), Newsted's comment that he'll be wearing T-shirts from his other band, Voivod (whose album comes out July 25, natch), hints at his larger purpose. But hey, whoever wins can still join Flava Flav and last year's winner J.D. Fortune on future seasons of The Surreal Life.

In order to prevent other singerless acts from having to endure the shame of demonstrating the level to which they've become gun-slinging hacks, we offer these thoughtful fix-ups so they can make one last score without compromising their self-respect and the potential to rediscover a shred of relevancy (something Supernova will never have). And if it doesn't work out, well, there's always Rockstar III.

Soundgarden, meet Mike Patton: Led by guitarist Kim Thayil and histrionic wailer Chris Cornell, the Seattle quartet blew up and burned out too quickly, calling it quits in 1997. With Cornell busy in Audioslave, how about reuniting the group behind one of rock's most versatile and underrated singers, Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle)? Patton's experimental edge and producing skills could have come in handy during Down on the Upside. (It'd be fitting, since Mr. Bungle originally asked Cornell to sing for them.)

Dead Kennedys, meet Lee Ving: It's getting hard to keep track of who's heading the Dead Kennedys; they've gone through at least three replacements since reuniting without bellicose singer/songwriter Jello Biafra. Lee Ving, the sometime actor and lead singer for L.A. punks Fear, brings both the classic punk pedigree and the kind of obnoxious, in-your-face attitude Biafra's known for. (Witness his crowd-baiting in The Decline of Western Civilization.) Ving's songwriting skills are well displayed on Fear classics "Let's Have a War" and "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones."

The Misfits, meet Henry Rollins: There's little in it for Rollins, who's made quite a career by being himself -- an archetypal, testeroidal angry man. Other than his greater size, he's the perfect replacement for Glenn Danzig. Perhaps in uniting, they might regain a shred of credibility. Besides, can you imagine an evening of old Misfits and Black Flag tunes?