We recently wrote about Ethan Hawke and his role as fictional 90s singer-songwriter Tucker Carlson in Juliet, Naked. That got us thinking about other fictional bands and the ones that really stayed with us after the credits rolled. Of course, there are far too many to list them all and some famous ones missed out so no shouting at us about Spinal Tap.
Wylde Ratttz (Velvet Goldmine) – While Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Venus In Furs adhered closer to the Bowie-esque, theatrical side of glam rock, Ewan McGregor’s were the more primal, sexual Stooges-influenced side. The band was actually made up of Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth alongside Mark Arm of Mudhoney, The Minutemen’s Mike Watt, The Stooges’ Ron Asheton and Gumball’s Don Fleming. It’s that pedigree that helps their version of ‘TV Eye’ rock almost as hard as the original.
Citizen Dick (Singles) – Singles has come to be known as the defining film of the grunge generation, which is kind of amusing seeing as it’s essentially just a rom-com set in early 90s Seattle. Still, it’s great to see cameos from the likes of Alice In Chains, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell (sob) and Pearl Jam as Matt Dillon’s band Citizen Dick. Their ‘hit’ ‘Touch Me I’m Dick’ is actually Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ with one very important letter changed.
The Blues Brothers (The Blues Brothers) – Jake and Elwood Blues may have started off on Saturday Night Live, but their band is populated with some of r’n’b and soul’s finest musicians, from bass player extraordinaire Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn to the sadly departed Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy. It’s no surprise then, that they’re capable of bringing the house down with classics like Spencer Davis’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin’.
Sex Bob-omb (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) – Michael Cera, Alison Pill and Mark Webber’s power trio shares DNA with the likes of The Pixies, Violent Femmes and The Eels’ noisier records. Which is to say, noisy 90s indie, which is to say, great. ‘Garbage Truck’, written by none other than the 90s king himself Beck, has a particularly pleasant chug to it.
Mitch & Mickey (A Mighty Wind) – A Mighty Wind is an affectionate send-up of 60s folk pop, but there’s real heartbreak in the story of Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), a gentle duo torn apart by Mitch’s mental breakdown. Their reunion for ‘A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow’ at the end of the film is already a beautiful moment, but when they pause to kiss… full on waterworks.
The Lone Rangers (Airheads) – I was a teenage metalhead and I loved Airheads like I loved Wayne’s World and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The Lone Rangers (Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler) are a hopeless metal band who take over a radio station in the hopes of getting their one and only song on the air. That song is a more-produced (not hard) version of Reagan Youth’s ‘Degenerated’ and it truly rocks. Trivia fans: that’s actually Brendan Fraser singing but his bandmates on the recording are White Zombie’s Jay Yuenger and Sean Yseult.
The Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) – Many a musician will tell you that they’d be in prison if they weren’t in a band, but that was literally the case for The Soggy Bottom Boys (aka George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson). Their take on the traditional folk standard ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’ is a particular highlight.
Dewey Cox (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) – Dewey’s epic story takes in touchpoints from Johnny Cash (the wrong son died), Elvis, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys, so naturally his music runs that broad gamut too. We’re particularly partial to his Dylan period and the outstanding stream-of-consciousness ballad ‘Royal Jelly’.
Soronprfbs (Frank) – Inspired by the curious oddball comedy and giant head of Manchester comedian Frank Sidebottom, Frank is a moving story of the pitfalls in allowing mental illness and artistic genius to coalesce in pursuit of some kind of commercial alchemy. The band’s final improvised piece of brilliance ‘I Love You All’ comes complete with a perfect vocal performance from Michael Fassbender.
Llewyn Davis (Inside Llewyn Davis) – Producer and guitarist extraordinaire T-Bone Burnett helped the Coen brothers achieve Appalachian bluegrass authenticity on O Brother, Where Art Thou, and he returned to do the same with 60s folk on Inside Llewyn Davis, inspired by Dave van Ronk’s autobiography. Oscar Isaac (already a talented singer and guitarist) proved to be an inspired choice to play Llewyn Davis, and that’s never more evident than in his stunning version of ‘The Death Of Queen Jane’. If it doesn’t move you to tears then there’s a chance you’re dead inside.