This week's behind-the-scenes look into Portland's persona band movement, Alter Egos
, generated lots of great quotes. Here are some of the highlights of the lines that didn't make it into the article, including perspectives from two bands there wasn't enough room for: the Epoxies and Hello Lobster.
Dagger of the Mind
Portland's "Power Metal Shakespeare Company" combine Elizabethan garb and accents, monologues from Shakespeare, and iron Maiden-esque '80s power metal.
"Other bands have an image that they've created. Is it so weird to do Shakespeare with iron Maiden? Actually no, not at all. It's pretty normal when you look at rock history." —Guitarist Matt Stikker (Sir Mathew)
"If Akira Kurosawa can make Throne of Blood
out of Macbeth, then we can make metal out of Macbeth." —Stikker
On why so many persona bands are metal or New Wave: "You can't picture a band in the sort of Plan R, Tragedy, Autistic Youth scene wearing costumes. You'd be laughed out of the punk scene for doing that. And same with some of the uptight indie hipster rock scene. You can't wear costumes and sing about your feelings." —Singer/guitarist Jason Simms (Lord Simms, Liege of Albakirk)
New Wave/punk act The Epoxies are probably the best-known and most-successful persona band to come out of Portland—but although they've kept the stage names, costumes, and general sci-fi themes, over time the band has dropped the fictional back story and personalities.
"I used the stage persona first off to hide the fact that I was terrified, and kind of used that fear as part of the stage persona." —Singer Roxy Epoxy
"There's definitely people out there who want to cling onto something that you portray. And that's part of why I've cut out the aloof character...I didn't want to seem like I didn't give a crap about the people I was performing in front of and being around." —Epoxy
"We don't have a lot of money to throw at things...we still come up with outfits that basically come out of the garbage or Goodwill and are cut up in any given way." —Epoxy
Fist of Dishonor
Portland's "premiere ninja band" combine stage combat and poppy rock about being a ninja.
"Nobody wants to hear about your personal problems. Everybody's got problems. You go to a show to escape them." —Drummer Brian Cummings/Zodiac Snow Wolf
About the common age of Portland persona musicians (which is in the 30s):
"If you're not the type to get married, settle down in the suburban house and get that job at the mill, then you're doomed. And we're doomed. This is amazing for me mainly because it's a chance to put effort into something, and then so quickly—like with film, it takes so long and then people are usually like 'that sucked'." —Keyboardist Tim Planagan/Robo D
"We use all our maturity to do the things that would've impressed us when we were four. Ninja rockstars. Ninja...rock stars!" —Singer/guitarist Tera Nova Zarra/Missy Jitsu
Eugene-transplant New Wave band claims to be lobster-like aliens from Planet Lobster, whose songs are reports home to the Lobster Commander—Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO.
On the band's start in 2002: "At that time the indie explosion took off, and we just wanted to be the complete opposite of all the bands that were coming out. So we figured the best way to do that was to make fun of them as if we were from another planet and just observing everything that's happening here on earth." —Singer Tony Altamirano/Lobster 1
"The band is a great outlet to express all the anger that accumulates while I work my way through customer service to pay for school." —Altamirano
"When you're watching a show, you don't want boring people playing instruments singing about girls or whatever the hell. I would remember it way more if they were dressed like fucking Panda Bears or something. Doing yoga...Panda bears doing yoga. People out there take note. I want to see a band!" —Altamirano
Portland's answer to The Backstreet Boys put the homoeroticism on the surface, and claim to have been sent from the heavens as "dance saviors" to fight a "frumpy epidemic on a super-frickin'-global scale."
"For me, when I put on the sunglasses and get on stage, then I'm TC, and I'm in Sexy Pants, and I don't give a fuck about anybody who's not doing sexy stuff, and that's what we do. And then we'll get done playing, and I'll get off and be all sweaty and take off my sunglasses and [be] gathering up cords, and have people come up to me and go, 'Ah, wow, that was fun, I liked it, good stuff!' And I feel awkward. Like, 'Oh. Uh...thanks. I didn't really do anything, I dunno.' But when I'm actively playing and wearing sunglasses and having people screaming, and we've had underwear thrown a couple of times, that's easy to take in stride at that point. That makes sense, because duh, I'm Too Cool Barnett, I'm in Sexy Pants. Of course you're fucking reacting that way." —Adam Barnett/T.C. Barnett
"The people are a lot of times too involved in our live show to really get into it or really get into the music and be like dancing. It's dance music, but it's not till we command dancing that people will dance, because they're watching a sweet show." —Jack Barnett/Baron von Jackula
"Dear god, I wish I could go to a Sexy Pants show [as a spectator]." —Jack Barnett
Klingons playing death metal. What, you need us to draw a picture?
"We thought maybe we'd record something, put it out there, maybe play one Halloween show or something. Here we are five years later, we've played at the top of the Space Needle, we've toured fucking California, we've been in a fucking movie, we were on a soundtrack, we've done all this shit." —Singer Bill Salfelder/Captain plnluH Hod
"You can start a persona band and odds are, people are going to pay to go see it." —Salfelder
"No matter how great a show is, it's always calculated against the fact that we were hot and itchy and sweaty." —Rhythm guitarist Ward Young/KhR'ELL
One of Portland's two pirate rock persona bands alongside Captain Bogg & Salty, Sunken Chest give you less sanitized swashbuckling.
"Part of why there's this resurgence of interest in pirates is that they represent liberation from the bureaucratic bullshit of everyday life. We live in a very wealthy society, most of us by human historical standards are the luckiest people who've ever lived. But at the same time, most of us feel unhappy and constrained by all of our wealth. And being a pirate—not actually being a pirate, not going off the coast of Somalia and actually murdering people and taking their stuff, but in a fantasy sense of being somewhat free from the rules of normal society, and free to associate with who you want to and make your own collective rules. Which is what a band is." —Drummer Josh Bass/Clambeard the Pyrate Dummarr
"It's all showbiz. You can pretend it's not showbiz, but it is. It's a conscious decision to put on a costume and get on stage, and it's a conscious decision to put on your day clothes and get on stage—as if those weren't picked out." —Bass
"You can fuck with people when you're dressed as a pirate and drinking, and they kind of expect that of you. They almost invite that. And they don't realize you're kind of being a bit serious." —Singer/bassist Chris Keller/Captain Keller
Photo of Dagger of the Mind by Baker Poulshock