They Wanna Be Them
Which of the following is an omen of the impending apocalypse? A) The Sex Pistols playing Dallas' Longhorn Ballroom, once the home of Bob Wills, in 1978. B) The re-formed Sex Pistols playing the Trump Marina Casino during their 2003 tour. C) The Sex Pistols Experience-- a tribute band that looks and sounds like the real thing, complete with a "Johnny Forgotten," "Kid Vicious" and even girlfriend "Nancy Spunked'on" (selling merch, natch)--playing the Granada Theater this weekend on the second date of their "Anarchy From the UK" tour.
Never mind the bollocks, you decide. The English foursome plus one that make up the Experience started emulating the four horsemen of punk rock "just for a bit o' fun more than anything," says drummer "Paul Crook." They've now been at it nearly three times as long as the real Pistols' original run, touring throughout the U.K. and Europe and now the U.S.
Depending on your viewpoint, it could be a great rock 'n' roll swindle and/or a cheeky way for some lads to make a few quid. "Tribute bands started out to be a big deal over here, like, 10 years ago," says "Malcolm McDonalds," the band's "manager" (who sounds suspiciously similar to Crook via transatlantic phone). "I always knew that the Sex Pistols would be the real one to conquer. With bands like The Who and all that such and that, you can more or less pull any pub musician out of any band across the U.K. and put together a Who tribute. But with the Sex Pistols, because of the four strong characters and the music was so unique, it would be difficult for just anyone to do."
The key sales point of the Experience is how much they resemble the real deal (check out sexpistolsexperience.co.uk to judge for yourself). And as a result, they stir up at least a semblance of the Pistols ruckus of yore.
"It's just mental down at the front," Crook says. But what about the '70s punk sport of gobbing (spitting) at the band? "Funnily enough, that's one thing that didn't survive. We're glad about that."
The Experience, who will record the Dallas show for a CD and DVD release, sees their market as two-fold. One segment is "the people now in their late 30s and 40s who want to go back to when they were kids and catch up on the music they were listening to," McDonalds says. On the other hand, "the younger generation want to know who all these bands were that influenced the bands they like today."
Crook falls into the former bunch. "I was only 12 years old when they played my hometown. And I wasn't allowed to go in the venue. But I saw them arrive in their old beat-up van and pull up outside. And Sid and Johnny were doing their rude signals through the window at the crowd. I think that's what stirred up my curiosity. I wanted to know what all the fuss was all about. Because I wasn't allowed to see them, I've since made up for it now, doing it myself with this band."
These Pistols, however, aren't out to spread anarchy and mayhem or transform rock 'n' roll. "That's not really the direction we're coming from," Crook says. "We've come to appreciate that we're not the Pistols." Somehow, so has everyone else.
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