Five Hundred Words on Band Identities

They pissed me off.

That’s basically how I’d describe the inspiration behind my unholy quest to remove Aerosmith from my Top Artists on Last.fm. I don’t like their music any less, but I’m liking the band itself less and less as time goes on.

It started with the news, earlier this year, that lead singer Steven Tyler was parting ways with the rest of the band. There was a lot of back and forth around that time. Tyler said some shit and Joe Perry said some shit, but in the end the status quo remained. False alarm: Aerosmith was still Aerosmith.

Then Tyler went and joined American Idol as a host and suddenly Joe Perry was back to his bitching. Now, don’t get me wrong: he absolutely had a right to call his partner in crime on his criminally stupid career move. But he had no right to even infer that Aerosmith would continue without Steven Tyler, which is just what he did. Again.

Listen, Joe Fuckin’ Perry: Aerosmith is not Aerosmith without Steven Tyler. It’s not Aerosmith without Joe Perry either, which is why Rock in a Hard Place doesn’t count. Aerosmith is the five dudes on the cover of the self-titled 1973 album. That’s it. End of story. If you and the other guys want to go out and record with someone else, you do it under a different name. That was good enough for the dudes from Rage, and it’s sure as hell good enough for you.

Bands have identities, man. It’s not always about a consistent line-up—though more often than not that is the case—but it’s always about something. Alter that something and the band no longer has a right to call itself the same thing anymore.

For example, the Barenaked Ladies don’t really exist anymore. Once Steve Page left, they were done. The quartet currently touring under that name is a fraud.

R.E.M. without Bill Berry isn’t really R.E.M., but they’ve been doing it as a trio for so long that they’ve beaten me into submission. Break the rules long enough and I’ll give in, I guess.

Guns N Roses… Oh, Christ, don’t even get me started.

Green Day has the opposite problem: by adding people to their touring band, they have ceased to be Green Day. Green Day is three dudes having a mud fight with the audience at Woodstock. They are not a five or six piece stadium-filling supergroup.

This is one reason why Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls rules and Amy Lee of Evanescence sucks (one of many reasons): Amanda could’ve kept recording under the Dresden Dolls name without Brian Viglione, but she knew the rules and went solo instead. Amy, she refused to acknowledge that Evanescence without Ben Moody isn’t Evanescence.

So, anyway, I’m playing lots of certain bands right now in order to move Aerosmith off of my Last.fm page. Eventually, they’ll win me over again. But for right now, they’re in the shithouse.