The one unfortunate thing about being in a band is that unless you happen to be The Rolling Stones (or any of those “English Motherfuckers” according to P Diddy) is that you will get old and lame.
How bands handle this transition into the lower echelons of their own cultural relevance can vary. Pop-punk idol Deryck Whibley appears as though he is not handling his decline gracefully, although I’d probably feel the same if I’d lost Avril Lavigne to Chad Kroeger from Nickelback. Contrasted to this is Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 who still seems like the same jackass he was about 20 years ago.
Morrissey has been extremely divisive in his latter years. The former front man of The Smiths, who was never totally on the level to begin with, has also picked up the rather odd trait of sympathising with serial killers, best on show when he compared Anders Breivik’s attacks on several buildings in Oslo and the island of Utoya to farming practices around the globe.
The Norweigen synth-pop group A-ha handled this spectacularly in my opinion, in that they recognised that they only had one massive song so they apparently open and close with it at their gigs.
One band who I had frankly not considered this to be a problem for is the Bloodhound Gang, mostly due to the fact that they only ever had one song that anyone really knew and in retrospect it was a bit of a gimmick. I will admit that at the time some guy spouting out double entendres seemed cool and clever, but now I can’t shake the feeling that these are the guys you see in town attempting to overcompensate their own social ineptitude by wearing a t-shirt saying “TO THE PUB!”.
It would seem though that there are still people out there willing to pay to see them and furthermore it would appear as though they have not expanded their repertoire in terms of humour or intelligence. On that note, their recent efforts to seem edgy and ground-breaking have backfired spectacularly.
Playing in the Ukranian city of Odessa just a few days ago, bassist Jared Hasselhoff attempted to get the crowd onside by shoving the Russian flag down his pants, and the 41-year-old then capped off the stunt by requesting that the audience not mention the whole escapade to president Vladimir Putin. Whilst the Ukrainian crowd seemed to glob on to this and seemingly enjoy the stunt, the same cannot be said for the Russians themselves.
Unfortunately for Hasselfhoff he made the fatal mistake of assuming that the USA’s old enemy would be totally cool with this, and the band have faced several repercussions. A member of the band’s crew was attacked after the show with whips and the band themselves were also said to have been pelted with eggs by pro-Kremlin groups as they headed to the airport. The Russian authorities are also looking into the possibility of legal action against the band and they were questioned before leaving the country.
When I first saw this story, I was tempted to take the ultra-liberal line and condemn the Russians. I mean, it is only a flag, and typically the only people who get funny about desecration of flags (at least in Futurama) are the Americans. As such I thought this could have been an opportunity to take the high road over the US.
However, upon further reflection, I completely agree with their reaction. I cannot imagine that if Gerard Depardieu were to take a dump on the Union Flag that he would ever be able to live it down, and he would most definitely be the subject of weekly harassment from the tabloids.
The crass vulgarity with which Hasselhoff proceeded to mock the Russians shows a complete disregard for any of the long standing political tensions between the two countries, including the recent asylum of former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden in Russia after he turned over classified information. Even more worryingly it shows pretty poor pandering towards the audience.
The Russian authorities took a fairly dim view of these antics, with culture minister Vladimir Medinsky describing the group as “idiots”. The band had been due to play in Russia at the Kubana Festival, but unsurprisingly the performance has been cancelled.
My advice to those bands who are worried about fading into the twilight of their own careers is to think about whatever publicity stunt you’re looking to do to gain some press. Chaos need not be quite so chaotic. By all means look to piss people off, that’s all part and parcel of it, but don’t shove flags down your pants. Especially if that flag belongs to the Russians, because they’re probably crazier than you ever were.
Here’s a video of the incident:
And here’s one of them being attacked in an airport by some guys who proceed to subject the American flag to a similar treatment:
â˜› More Russia: