Supergroup and the state of heavy-metal nation
Toxically clever, those producers at VH1. At the very moment in which the entire genre of reality TV appeared to be creaking toward its terminus, wafting into heat death, its prime impulse of vulgarity exhausted or burned away, they came up with the best and most crudely vital concept yet: Supergroup. Genetically speaking, the just-completed seven-episode series (it will rerun every Saturday night in August at 10 and 11 pm) was the bastard son of two other VH1 shows — The Surreal Life and Behind the Music — in that it offered a new and bristling hybrid of “celebreality” (i.e., the mutual embroilments of B- and C-list stars) and heavy-metal super-reality. Five hard-rock veterans, all of them variously distorted and deranged by their years on the circuit, were drafted, ensconced in a Vegas mansion, and given two weeks to form a band, write a song, and play a show: Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard, bass), Scott “Not” Ian (Anthrax, guitar), Jason Bonham (son of John, drums), Sebastian “Baz” Bach (Skid Row, voice), and Ted Nugent (Ted Nugent, Ted Nugent).
UNCLE TED & CO: The Nuge as Supergroup’s senior presence, Patton-like in its authority, benevolent in its wisdom, with a touch of the guru.
It worked beautifully, and it was the sheerest entertainment. The celebreality quotient was provided by the charming, frothing, infantile Sebastian Bach — a diva of a frontman 10 years past his prime. Baz was a producer’s dream, a steady mill of content: his tantrums, his enthusiasms, his vanities, and his gaping need for love kept things moving while the rest of the band were twiddling their thumbs or plodding through “Cat Scratch Fever” for the 14th time. He was late for everything — every rehearsal, every photo session — generally because he had to go running or dry his hair. And he had a little drinking problem, which provided the narrative backbone of whole episodes.
“Ohhh . . . I think I need to go and do some apologizing,” said Baz in Episode Three, scratching his head the morning after a particularly disastrous red-wine bender, a vinous rampage during which he caused a late-night band practice to collapse and somehow provoked his new friend Evan Seinfeld into a fistfight. In Seinfeld’s bedchamber the apology was duly made, amid many embracings and avowals of manly love, as a penitent and hangover-parched Baz wept freely and confessed that he was having a hard time with the death of his father. To borrow a line from my colleague Carly Carioli, in a recent review of the Dresden Dolls: “Fuck you, I was moved.”
Representing the higher metallo-realm, meanwhile, the permanent stratum of overstatement and absurdity and clanging balls, was (of course) Ted Nugent. As his band-mates-to-be wandered into the house at the beginning of the first episode, the Nuge was already installed like a colossus in front of his Marshall stack, wailing through “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“What was the name of your band?!” he demanded of an arriving Evan Seinfeld.
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