Benom Plumb is a professor by day, a rock star at night, and a political satirist, to boot.
He teaches music business at the University of Colorado Denver, and when he’s not in the classroom, he’s performing in a band dubbed Professor Plumb alongside bass player Alex Bailey, who performs with pop singer Chloe Tang; guitarist John Demitro of the Velveteers and Pink Fuzz; and Ben Hatch of the Bright Silence on the drums and keys.
The band’s name, Professor Plumb, was inspired by a shout-out at a Switchfoot concert. In 2014, Plumb’s friend Jon Foreman, who fronts the rock band, had visited Plumb’s class and invited everyone to a show afterward. From the stage, he dedicated the hit song “Meant to Live” to “Professor Plumb,” and Plumb’s band adopted the moniker.
The group recently released the first two songs — “Prelude” and “Midnight Creep” — off The Majic Twelve, a two-EP, twelve-song project. The act describes “Midnight Creep” as a “rock-and-roll shuffle with a heavy and satirical twist. The song mocks and ridicules the absurdity of misogynist culture, creepy men, sexual predators and those who defend them.”
The song was inspired by #TimesUp and #MeToo, Plumb explains, social movements that have emerged in the wake of a string of accusations of sexual harassment and more against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and dozens of other high-profile men.
“Finally, people are speaking out about these men in leadership positions that use their power to be creeps,” Plumb says. “I’ve experienced it myself working in the music industry. I’ve worked with a lot of female colleagues who’ve confided in me about things that have happened to them. And of course, some of them are afraid to speak up because they think they won’t be believed or people will ridicule them. I think we should ridicule these creepers and let it be a means to inspire other people to speak up and to hold these people accountable.”
The video for “Midnight Creep” begins with a clip of President Trump being called a sexual predator and responding as though it was a compliment. Plumb says the irony of the video is that none of it is actually funny.
In fact, it’s jam-packed with men who have been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. Trump appears, then Kevin Spacey playing Frank Underwood in House of Cards, each in his White House. Also cast in the video are Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Louis C.K., Jared Fogle, Bill Clinton, Mike Pence, Alex Jones, Pee-wee Herman, Ted Cruz, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, among others.
“I’m taking the absurdity, turning it up to eleven and flipping it on its head to say that this is absolutely absurd and ridiculous that we allow everybody from Trump to Clinton to get away with these things.”
Plumb says he’s using his rock-and-roll platform to speak out against the culture of misogyny and hate.
“I don’t expect everyone to believe the same thing I believe — I’m not trying to push my beliefs on anyone,” he says. “I think we can all agree that nobody wants to be sexually harassed. And nobody likes being in the presence of a male in a powerful leadership position that makes you uncomfortable.”
Professor Plumb is one of the bands closing out the Underground Music Showcase, which takes place in and around Denver’s Baker neighborhood July 27 to July 29. More than 200 artists will perform at the UMS; Plumb’s group will play “Midnight Creep” along with a full range of songs — many about outer space and UFOs.
“I just love the band,” says Plumb. “The guys are great musicians. John Demitro already has a lot of acclaim from the Velveteers and Pink Fuzz; he’s an amazing lead guitar player. When we play ‘Midnight Creep’ live, John just lets loose on the electric.”
Plumb is optimistic about the impact of “Midnight Creep” and the future. “The more we ridicule these people, the less it will happen, hopefully.
“We need to shine a light in the darkness,” he adds. “Ridicule and satire is one way to do that.”
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