Living the dream: The Moonlandingz and the enduring popularity of fictional bands
In the #alternativefacts world, give a man a mask and he'll tell you the truth... or at the very least, an entertaining, psychedelic rock album
Take the rallying excuse of maverick musicians down the decades – we weren't hearing any bands we liked, so we had to form our own – then move one step left of centre to find the writers, filmmakers and artists who have simply invented the band of their (strangest) dreams and given them some form of life, be it on the page, on the screen – small or silver – and even in one case all the way to a coveted slot at the Glastonbury Festival…
That would be Spinal Tap, who were joined on the Pyramid Stage by Jarvis Cocker, an actual living breathing pop star who nevertheless has some form with this whole fictional band malarkey, having portrayed Myron Wagtail, lead singer of Harry Potter's fave raves The Weird Sisters in The Goblet of Fire film adaptation.
Oh, the liberating joys of conceiving – and especially naming – a fictional band, without concern for their creative or commercial viability. Brother, where art those Soggy Bottom Boys now? Forever enshrined by the Coen Brothers in their hillbilly glee, somewhere far less hip and happening than the groovy party soundtracked by The Carrie Nations in kitsch cult movie classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Some fictional bands are left purely to the imagination, such as Frozen Gold from Iain Banks's novel Espedair Street, the eponymous Airdrie outfit in David Keenan's newly published This is Memorial Device, or the made-up (but thinly veiled) music community in Julian Cope's far-out fiction debut One Three One.
Others, like cartoon creations The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats, were given voice (the latter featuring future Charlie's Angel Cheryl Ladd in their human line-up), while The Monkees surpassed their fictional roots entirely.
But those guys can all move over cos there's a new really unreal band in town. Revved-up garage rockers The Moonlandingz, described by one of their creators Dean Honer, as 'the biggest band in the UKIP enclave of Valhalladale', first appeared as a stalker fan's quarry on the Eccentronic Research Council's 2015 concept album Johnny Rocket Narcissist and Music Machine…I'm Your Biggest Fan but were swiftly brought to life by 'young-ish salty types' Lias and Saul from Fat White Family, and are now poised to unleash their debut album Interplanetary Class Classics.
Honer's favourite fictional bands include Bad News, The Banana Splits, Homer Simpson's grunge crew Sadgasm and the Peter Cook-fronted fruit loops Drimble Wedge & the Vegetations but, as far as he is concerned, 'The Moonlandingz were always real. There is a Moonlandingz in every small town and city – the hapless dreamers living out their rock n roll fantasies, longing to be asked for an autograph and a monthly residency in the local working men's club.
'For Lias it didn't really take much of a shift to become [frontman] Johnny Rocket. He's lived the small town alienation thing, he's cried himself to sleep at night because of the futility of existence. It was merely the addition of some bushy eyebrows and a silver codpiece that made the character complete.'
The Moonlandingz are on tour from Wed 22 Mar–Wed 19 Apr; Interplanetary Class Classics is released on 24 Mar via Transgressive Records.