Sex, Drugs, And Bubblegum Pop (Week 40)

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Sex, Drugs, And Bubblegum Pop is the most outlandish column on UTG. Written by Mr. Jayce, vocalist for Secret Secret Dino Club and all-round funny guy, this column isn’t as much about the music as it is the experiences people in the music industry have.

WARNING: This column does and will continue to contain content some readers may find offensive. If you don’t have a sense of humor, this column is probably not for you.

My parents used to try to make me a better person when I was younger. They would sign me up for all kinda of volunteer and charity work, mostly through their church. When I was maybe 13 or 14 my parents thought i should put my drumming talents to good use and play in a praise and worship band. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I have nothing against any religion of any sort. You can worship anything you want and be proud of it. I’m just telling a story.

This band was sponsored by a giant nationwide (maybe even worldwide) christian organization. By sponsored, i mean they put their name on it and nothing else. We met at a building they owned across the street from a school which was about 35 minutes from my house. The building was absolutely disgusting. It was over taken with mold from floor to ceiling. There was asbestos. It smelled like a colonoscopy. Everyone who worked their was a volunteer. Even if they worked enough hours to be a full-time employee. My hat goes off to anyone who has the money to do nothing all day and chooses to volunteer. They had a landscaper, a building director, a band director and various other student-aged helpers working at all times.

Everyone was required to bring their own equipment, including microphones, cables, instruments, etc. The band was very poorly put together. I played the drums, there was a trumpet player, a guitar player, and 5 female lead vocalists. They were all the kind of girls who put their hand on their ears when they sang and tried to sound like Xtina Aguilera, who was pretty popular at the time. None of them sounded like Xtina. We would practice once a week after school. It was tough for me to get their on time because my parents worked later and I couldn’t drive.

While in the band we did pretty much everything except play songs. We would volunteer in the worst ghettos and clean out people stoops filled with trash. Why we did this I have no idea. It was basically like cleaning people’s houses who were too lazy to clean them themselves. I would find all kinds of crazy things. Anything from drug paraphernalia to dead animals. Not just like rats, i’m talking household pets like cats and hamsters.

When we had band practice, we generally practiced the same 2 or 3 songs that we didn’t write. It obviously never sounded good given the pieces that were there. Everyone had the worst equipment you could possibly own, which didn’t help either. The band director’s only suggestion I ever heard her make, was that I should buy one of those large clear plastic sound shields. Obviously I didn’t buy one. We never played one show because we never had enough songs. We would however go on trips to watch other bands this organization put together and that’s where things started to get fishy.

I would watch thousands and thousands of dollars be poured in to this company right out of people’s pockets. I would go as far to say I saw well over a million dollars put into these buckets they would pass around at the end of the concerts to collect money. The same people giving this money, were the people paying upwards of $75 a piece to attend. This was all done in cash. Other than some of the guest speakers, everyone working these events were volunteering. Even the larger bands who would attract the majority of the people weren’t even being reimbursed for gas. At this point i started to wonder where all of this money was going. It wasn’t going to their workers, their facilities or the kids. Were they mailing the money to God himself? What’s God going to do with a bunch of money?

It seems lately in the news, more and more people use the fear of religion on people to take money from people. If you are going to play in a band for Jesus and not for money, that’s great. But make sure the money you are making is being used for something you believe in. On the other hand, the bucket thing seems pretty legit. Maybe I should start passing around buckets at my shows to collect money from people. If anyone questions it, I will question their character and put the fear of God in them.

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James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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