Last week’s chart column focused on the persistent album-chart presence of rock bands like Shinedown and Theory of a Deadman, and the numbers caused me to get pinged by Bubbles Burbujas, a dancer who also runs the site Stripper Tweets. “Shinedown and Hollywood Undead = club staples, ugh. THAT IS THE CHART LONGEVITY SECRET,” she told me. Intrigued, I tracked her down on IM for further elaboration. What transpired was a friendly chat about about the persistent popularity of Weezer, rock’s status as “the music of the titty bar for 30 years,” and whether or not you can give a lapdance to Animal Collective.
SOTC: I feel like ‘mainstream rock’ (as Billboard calls it) is a genre that gets the short shrift from commentators, And it’s not even on the radio that much. But I guess I was wondering what the appeal was. Is it good to dance to? Is it just that the clientele likes it?
BB: Yeah, I mean, I have to hear a lot of Pussycat Dolls and Taylor Swift, too, but people write about that critically a lot more than they do Halestorm or whatever.
SOTC: I have never even HEARD Halestorm!
BB: Strictly a titty bar band I guess. I don’t know if they get radio play.
BB: A lot of it comes from the DJs. At one of the clubs where I work, the main DJ (who I enjoy working with; he happily plays whatever I ask for) also DJs late mornings at the local hard rock station, so that’s the kind of stuff he gets on promo. (He’s a big fan of Shinedown.)
SOTC: So you’ve worked all over the country — are there broad regional differences in playlists?
BB: Oddly enough, that’s the kind of thing that’s more different club to club than state to state.
SOTC: Do you ever bring songs in? Are the DJs resistant to that?
BB: That depends on the club format. If the owner breathes down his neck and the DJ gets in trouble for playing music the owner doesn’t like, they resist. and I won’t push, because I don’t want them to deal with that.
BB: But yes, I often bring in my iPod, pull up a set list, and the DJ will just play that for me. A lot of dancers do that. Every once in a while you will encounter a diva DJ who won’t want to play anything you give him.
SOTC: A Diva-J!
BB: Let me also add that I have heard definitively racist music policies handed down from club owners to DJs re: hip-hop/rap content of playlists. And this results in a decided emphasis on crappy rock.
SOTC: Just like blanket ‘no rap’ edicts?
BB: Precisely. There is a club in Dallas where the owner mandated that every third song be a country song. He thought that this would keep the wrong element out of his club. The flip side to that is of course a DJ at Magic City in ATL being the first dude to hear/play Young Jeezy or something.
BB: As far as the customers liking bands like Shinedown, well, they must be getting played on radio some, right? Also, these bands seem to be pretty committed to touring everywhere. I mean, they must hit the county fair circuit like mad.
BB: I have no idea what a Billboard rock chart looks like right now.
SOTC: Here you go!
BB: There’s an Alice in Chains single? Huh, surprised I haven’t heard that. A friend of mine was working at Mary’s Club in Portland a few years ago when a guy at the bar said to her, “Have you ever met the drummer from Alice in Chains?” She said, “No,” and he replied, “You have now.”
BB: I dance to Muse, I admit it, because the crowd loves it. I do now and always have thought they were a Styx for our time.
BB: Weezer = crowdpleaser, since these days the guys who like Weezer are pretty much a part of our target audience. And by that I mean guys who were GIANT DORKS about 15 years ago and now have money.
SOTC: So do they like new Weezer or old?
BB: Pretty much any of it. I don’t need to tell you how committed Weezer fans are, I’m sure.
SOTC: Oh I know.
BB: God, Shinedown make me long for the songcraft of Our Lady Peace or Matchbox 20.
SOTC: “Come back, Puddle of Mudd, all is forgiven!”
SOTC: Wait, no. They were terrible.
BB: When I have to come up with rock sets and I can’t stomach, well, that chart you showed me, I go with the White Stripes, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age. Stuff I don’t really listen to, but don’t find objectionable.
BB: Where are these people who still listen to broadcast rock radio? I feel so out of touch.
SOTC: I have no idea! I wonder that a lot.
BB: I guess what this comes down to is that RAWK has been the music of the titty bar for 30 years, and someone is going to keep making it. It’s the music of good times! and bar fights! And male bonding through the homerotic experience of the stripper–proxy lapdancing for your friend!
BB: Oh shit, you know what else I have to hear that has no life outside the club?
SOTC: Wait, which “Scream”?
BB: Chris Cornell.
SOTC: Speaking of unfortunate rock albums of recent years, I don’t know if you saw the story last year about songs from Chinese Democracy being serviced to strip clubs. Did that work?
BB: No toehold at all from what I heard — there’s some lines you just don’t cross. Not a lot of Gary Cherone Van Halen either.
SOTC: So, modern indie: Is it lapdanceable??
BB: Hahahaha. I got SO EXCITED a month or so ago when the girl on stage was dancing to “House of Jealous Lovers” and I was dancing for a guy. I was like, “You’re getting SUCH a good dance because I like the Rapture.”
BB: Yes, I’m a dork.
SOTC: Not at all! That song is long, though.
BB: That’s what DJs are for. They can make every song between 3:15 and 3:45.
BB: A DJ played some xx for my walk-off music the other day.
SOTC: What about GAPDY — Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Phoenix, Dirty Projectors, Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
BB: YYY have always been big with strippers, for good reason — they have a beat.
SOTC: Is it mostly male-fronted bands?
BB: Neko Case goes over well. I have heard other girls dance to her.
BB: We are about to get into some “Whiter Shade of Pale” territory, but the first three of the GAPDY bands? Not for dancing, not for fucking. The DPs are not really for either, but have a bit of soul. YYYs are a dance band at heart.
BB: There’s a girl who dances to TV on the Radio a lot at one of my clubs. Oh, and the Knife — but no Fever Ray.
SOTC: Lots of Knife songs, or just a few?
BB: Just a couple. “Heartbeats” actually was quite a staple!
BB: It’s funny that there’s this sort of anachronistic aesthetic that belongs to both the rock charts and the strip club. Like, neither is “cool” or cutting edge or artistically interesting for the most part, but they both fulfill some base need for their audience. Like, why do people attach so strongly to it? Escapism, to be really vague, I guess. Guys want to be, girls want to fuck, etc.
SOTC: Sure. Although I feel like a lot of the post-grunge sort of stuff is really anti-escapist!
BB: What, like so mundane? That’s true.
SOTC: Yeah, very ‘woe is me.’
BB: It’s still cathartic to hear songs about heartbreak and shitty lives.
BB: Although put a girl on stage to Nickelback and Hinder, and then put her up to Van Halen and Motley Crue, and I don’t care if the median age of the crowd is 50 or 25, they are going to enjoy the latter more.
BB: Oh Hinder.
SOTC: Hahaha, Hinder.
BB: Please don’t ever make another record.
SOTC: The worst or the ULTIMATE worst?
BB: Buckcherry is the ULTIMATE worst
BB: HATE IT
SOTC: See I like “From The Movies” and “Lit Up”
BB: “Lit Up” was fine. “Crazy Bitch” is as unforgivable (UFG?) as “Lips of an Angel.”