Great American rock band

October 22nd, 2007

I can’t remember if my old classmate John Twiford was voted “most likely to succeed” in high school, but landing a slot on American Idol certainly qualifies him.

You’ve never heard of him because he bailed out of the show.

Rumor was — and I tried to track him down to set the record straight — that he bailed because he thought it would hurt his career.

He was a tremendous singer and extremely likable. I think he could have gone very far — but I also think he made the right decision.

That’s the thing with music, rock in particular — no matter how many records American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry sells, a bit of his soul belongs to Fox. There’s a timeless, intangible quality to rock music — it’s rebellious, it’s credible, it’s honest. American Idol is none of these.

There’s nothing rock n’ roll about the new Fox reality show, “The Next Great American Band,” either. It airs at the very un-rock n’ roll time of 8 p.m. on Friday.

It’s being billed as American Idol for rock bands.

I’m morbidly curious.

There will be 12 bands competing — there’s some rumors going around the Internet as to which bands made the cut. I’m sure there are some perfectly good bands in the mix. I’m just not sure what they were thinking.

“The bands will be revealed Friday night during the two hour premiere,” says Jill Hudson, director of publicity for Fox Broadcasting Company.

Sure, it’ll be 15 minutes of fame and maybe they’ll build their fan base — but they’ll always be The Monkees, never the Beatles.

Oh, and guess who’s judging this train wreck?

John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, a band who’s biggest hit, “Iris,” was a sappy ballad anchoring a Nicholas Cage romance/drama.

Sheila E., a studio musician, who’s worked with Prince, J.Lo, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross.
Ian Dickson, a BMG suit who judged “Australian Idol.”

I imagine it’ll be like that scene in “Back to the Future,” where the clueless judge (played by Huey Lewis) tells Marty McFly that his band is “just too darn loud.”

Is it too late to call real rockers — reality vets like Ozzy Osbourne or Travis Barker?
Okay, maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe the next U2 or Green Day will come out of this thing.

Right. And maybe Michael Hutchence will stop spinning in his grave.

So let me tell you about one great American rock band.

They’ve been around for almost two decades under different names and incarnations. Eight independent releases, a major label album. They’ve toured with bands like Third Eye Blind and Blues Traveler. I saw them once — they blew Cowboy Mouth, the main act, right off the stage.

They used to be The Uninvited, now they’re older and wiser as Fish Ranch Road.

Their new album, “The Farther Down We Go,” the first under Fish Ranch Road, might not be as high-energy as the earlier material, but it’s probably in my top 10 for the year. It’s roots rock, occasionally stripped down, but highly focused with smart lyrics and catchy melodies.

This is one of these bands that every time I listen to them, I wonder why they never had the same success as many of their late-90s peers.

I hope they’re not among the 12 bands on “The Next Great American Band.” It would be hard to fault them —it must be frustrating to put out consistent material without much in the way of recognition.

Even if Fish Ranch Road never really goes anywhere, this is a band that did it the right way — solid touring and solid music. There weren’t any shortcuts or television shows. There’s a sense of sadness in the new crop of songs, and I can’t help but imagine that this has to do with the fact that they got so close to success but never reached the next plateau.

So why keep going? Why make new music?

Because they’re a great American rock band.

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072.


4 comments to “Great American rock band”

  1. Hey Josh. Its John. My real intention of leaving the show was to allow myself time to explore my more creative side and to uncover my true artistic potential. Thanks.

  2. Yup. I did a follow-up column later, here: http://www.josheiserike.com/?p=73

    Thanks again, hope you’re doing great!

  3. A fantastic site, and brilliant effort. A great piece of work.r

  4. Yeah, they were (are) pretty fantastic.