Watching the recent Status Quo TV documentary ‘Hello Quo’ (Dir. Alan G Parker), I was reminded of a theory I’ve been expressing in one or two posts and talks concerning the DNA of the perfect ‘band’ (strange term, especially when applied to, say, the Spice Girls; ‘band’ conjures up images of euphoniums and kettle drums). Anyway, I thought it was time to commit the old theory to blog.
My thin thesis concerns beat combos, pop groups, and possibly even string quartets, in which four or so people form a collective to perform music with the aim of becoming successful. Whilst not wishing to stereotype (but of course this is precisely what I’m doing), the perfect ‘band’, in my experience, demands four essential components, or character types.
Although there are always exceptions to the rule, nine times out of ten (if you’re listening Cliff, and thinking about The Shadows) the four crucial elements are: The Architect, The Interior Designer, The Electrician, and The Plumber.
NB: Five piece groups such as the Rolling Stones, or early Oasis, may employ two plumbers.
The Architect is the visionary who conceives the act. He (for ‘he’ please add ‘or she’) is the conceptualist, the alpha male who dreams the musical direction and recruits others who are prepared to get their hands dirty and take orders. Think Brian Jones (although sadly he was crushed by those more alpha).
The Interior Designer is the Architect’s second-in-command. He is usually the one who contributes the musical flourishes that distinguish the group’s sound, and often co-writes most of the songs (with, of course, The Architect).
The Electrician is a would-be Interior Designer, but lacks confidence, and/or experience. Although he is the strong musical backbone, he’s not too keen on dressing like a pansy, and in many bands The Electrician invariably quits, simply to be replaced by another, uncannily similar Electrician.
The Plumber, without whom any band is doomed, is the practical type; he can mend a fuse, change a spark plug, or even re-wire an entire venue if need be. The Plumber has little to offer creatively, but he knows his place, which is right there, under the hood.
The above is almost always the winning formula, but here are some familiar scenarios that can be the cause or effect of disruption:
Any major disagreement between The Architect and The Interior Designer can bring about the demise of the band, but this rarely happens because these two individuals have vested interests and they are the powerbase. Architect and Designer often fall out and end up hating each other, but they know they are stronger together than apart, as does their accountant.
NB: In a trio, The Interior Designer may assume the twin role of Architect/ Interior Designer, or an Architect may choose to dispense with the services of an Interior Designer, usually with disappointing results.
An Interior Designer can rarely go it alone and will nearly always seek out an Architect.
The Electrician, post band break-up, will usually ‘go solo’.
Plumbers alone cannot form a successful band. There have been examples of a couple of plumbers attempting to keep their group’s name going after The Architect and The Interior Designer have quit, but their efforts are doomed to failure beyond the oldies circuit.
I regret there isn’t space to elaborate further, or directly cite any examples (although the images displayed here may provoke discussion). I welcome comments and look forward to expanding on my thin thesis somewhere down the line.
In memory of Rick Parfitt
Smiths photo by Tom Sheehan; other photographers unknown but thank you