Real World

Being part of a reality show can make a band's career. It can alsobreak it.

Dallas has contributed more than its fair share of reality television stars. There's American Idol's Nikki McKibben, of course, and Survivor's Colby Davidson. Every season of The Bachelor, or The Fake Bachelor, or The Littlest and Most Ridiculous Bachelor features some blonde from Dallas--pretty but plasticky, with big gloopy lipstick. I imagine most of those people probably love to talk about their experiences on reality television; Flickerstick would like you to forget.

"We're embarrassed about our involvement," says lead singer Brandin Lea about Bands on the Run, the 2001 VH1 contest-based reality show that Flickerstick won, nailing a major-label contract with Epic, who dropped the band after merging with Sony. "We're not embarrassed about what we did [on the show]--we did what every other rock band does. We went to bars, we drank beer and we played shows. But being on that show makes us an easy target. It's simple to say, 'Oh, that show was so stupid.' Of course it was. And any band would have done it."

After all, it's hard to pass up the massive exposure granted by cable television--even if the result may be temporarily cred-crippling. Sure, you'll get attention--but what kind? In a medium that has turned out such stars as Omarosa and William Hung, there may be little that is more frustrating than a reality television band trying to be taken seriously. Fortunately, the pressure hasn't crushed Flickerstick. The band's new album Tarantula is its strongest yet, a mature collection that swings from string-heavy power ballads to scruffy garage rock. In the years since Bands aired, Flickerstick has been on four headlining U.S. tours and played the U.K., and the band performs at a CD release party on Saturday at the Lakewood Theater with [DARYL] and Radiant. These days, Lea says, he's less haunted by the shadow of the show--although for about a year, he could hardly leave his house without someone recognizing him. That doesn't mean he regrets the decision. "There are a lot of bands who say, 'As stupid as that show was, I would have done it, because my band never got to play out of Dallas-Fort Worth.'"

A Dozen Furies would certainly agree. When the hardcore Plano band heard about auditions for a new contest-based reality show on MTV hosted by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, they jumped into the van. The Battle for Ozzfest, which will air its third episode Monday at 9:30 p.m., auditioned 600 metal bands in NYC and L.A. for a few coveted spots on Ozzy's ultimate wildman tour. A Dozen Furies made the cut. Of course, there was a catch--only one band member actually got to participate. In the Furies' case, it was 24-year-old guitarist Marc Serrano.

"I was kind of upset at first," says guitarist Joey Turner. "We came in here as a band, and now what are we gonna do?"

"There's a certain jealousy, too," says drummer Keith Reber, "because he gets to go off on Ozzfest while we stay at home. But at the same time, if we had to sit down and pick someone, I would have picked Marc." The band unanimously agrees.

"I wanted to be chosen," says Serrano, who handles the band's publicity and does most of its interviews. "At the same time, it was very stressful, 'cause I've got four guys sitting at home. I didn't want to have to come home and say I lost."

Serrano is legally obligated not to reveal anything about the show until it airs. When I ask him how long he was on the tour, he shrugs. "I'm sorry. I can't say."

"See?" Turner says. "That's why he got chosen. I would have blown it and told you right then."

It's too soon to know if Battle for Ozzfest will be The Apprentice or The Benefactor of metal reality programming. The first episode was a bit confusing--one band member is chosen to do what? And why? And how will they be eliminated?

It's possible, too, that the Osbournes have hit their saturation point with a finicky American public, in which case A Dozen Furies won't have to worry about embarrassing themselves--since no one will be watching.

Of course, they're hoping that's not the case. "I hope we're the biggest buzz band of next year," Turner says. And who could blame him for that?

 
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