Faux rock

The pleasures of pop artifice
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  July 20, 2010


Enter Die Antwoord: The rap on a South African phenomenon. By Daniel Brockman.
Are Die Antwoord a "fake band"? If they were, they'd be the latest in a long line from the Archies to Spinal Tap to the Dukes of Stratosphear. But they are a real band, just one with fake personae. Here are three other performers who weren't afraid to step through the mirror and be someone else:

CHRIS GAINES | That Garth Brooks created an alter ego to promote his album of non-country alterna-pop is bizarre enough. But when you factor in his status as the most successful solo artist of all time, his need to obfuscate his identity and hide behind a soul patch and a hairpiece in order to promote his 1999 album The Life of Chris Gaines is nothing short of bewildering. He played SNL as Gaines and had plans to make a CG movie — but Garth fans didn't see the whole thing as the clever commentary on fame and identity that Brooks intended, assuming instead (correctly?) that he'd lost his mind.

HUMPTY HUMP | Gregory Jacobs, a/k/a Shock G, was an accomplished producer and founder of Digital Underground when he came up with Humpty Hump, a cartoonish buffoon who raps while wearing a Groucho Marx glasses-and-nose get-up. Humpty was just the latest in a long line of Shock G's alter egos in 1990, when the Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" became an out-of-nowhere worldwide hit, skyrocketing Hump to the big time — and necessitating a separate identity and backstory for Edward Ellington Humphrey III, as well as stand-ins at live shows to preserve the illusion.

IRONLUNG | Down-tuned rumbling stoner crew Scissorfight assaulted an unsuspecting Boston scene throughout the late '90s and early '00s. Their shtick was a strange fixation on New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" northern-redneck culture, one made visceral by the shock tactics of frontman Ironlung, a/k/a Newton-born Chris Shurtleff. A hulking behemoth with an impressive beard, Shurtleff hatched the idea of Ironlung during his college stint in Keene, where the appeal of New Hampshire's outlaw wilderness opened his eyes and mind. But Ironlung the untamed savage was indeed a persona: during the band's reign of terror, Shurtleff the real person quietly earned a masters from UMass. His thesis? "On Acid: Exploring Representations of LSD Experimentation."

Related: The Big Hurt: ''Losing'' news in brief, Enter Die Antwoord, Die Antwoord's Ninja's zef squad, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE STROKES | COMEDOWN MACHINE  |  March 18, 2013
    The Strokes burst out in a post-9/11 musical world with a sound that was compact and airtight, melodies coiled frictionlessly in beats and fuzzed vocals.
  •   KMFDM IS A DRUG AGAINST BORE  |  March 13, 2013
    "In hindsight, honestly, it's almost impossible how it all happened."
  •   PALLBEARER SURVIVE EXTINCTION  |  February 20, 2013
    We all know that there is nothing more metal than a war.
  •   WHAT'S F'N NEXT? CHVRCHES  |  February 01, 2013
    If you are in a band and you've heard of Chvrches, you probably hate them.
  •   GLISS | LANGSOM DANS  |  February 01, 2013
    If rock and roll is three chords and the truth, then the mutant genre offspring shoegaze can be summed up as one chord, three fuzzboxes, and a sullen, muttered bleat.

 See all articles by: DANIEL BROCKMAN