GUEST BLOG: “Punk’s Dead, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Killed It”

blacklist royals guest blog

The following is a guest blog written by Blacklist Royals drummer Rob Rufus. He, alongside his bandmates, appeared in the role of a punk rock band on the ABC show Forever. Here is his first-hand account of the eye-opening experience:

The room was filled with punk rockers.

Punks clad in leather. Punks draped in plaid. Punks covered in chains and crossbones, torn fishnets and streaked eyeliner. A few of them idly twisted their hair, sharpening the points of their liberty spikes. One guy sat near the door alone, opening and closing a switchblade.

But mostly they just drank coffee, and ate the bagels hospitality provided. A line of normals stood in the back of the room, waiting patiently for their turn on the punk rock assembly line – first wardrobe, then hair, then makeup.

It was only nine a.m., and it was already one of the weirdest fucking days of my life.

Our manager, Ryan, called us two days before.

“ABC is looking for a Ramones-style band to play on one of their primetime shows.”

“What show?” I asked.


“I’ve never seen it…”

So what? I haven’t either — I’m pretty sure it’s like CSI meets Quantum Leap. Who cares? Five million people watch! It’s the break we’ve been waiting for! It shoots in two days – you guys need to get to New York. You can’t say ‘no.’”

It was a surreal call to receive. I mean, I’d been dreaming of playing on TV my entire life! The Tonight Show, Conan, The Late Show, The Late Late Show…but, Jesus, a supernatural crime drama? Seriously?

It seemed idiotic — cheap, even. But five million people — I couldn’t argue with those numbers. Every kid who’d seen Blacklist Royals combined wouldn’t even come close to that sort of exposure.

We had no information besides the name of the show, the city, and the day. It was ridiculous…but Ryan was right, we needed a break — we couldn’t say ‘no.’

Nine hundred miles and fourteen hours later I was standing on the set of Forever, watching the nonsensical weirdness of showbiz swirl around me.

The makeup artist put fake tattoos on the actors. The assistant producer covered up our real tattoos. Actors joked about their punk wardrobe, practicing their Tim Armstrong scowls and snotty British accents.

I felt like I was participating in a parody of my own life.

Then, an assistant producer escorted us to Trash Bar — the venue where our pretend-concert would be filmed.

The irony is, our first actual NYC concert was at Trash Bar. I’d been there many times over the years…hell, I’d even puked on their sidewalk once…but I’d never seen it as crowded as it was that day.

All the fake-punks were crammed in the bathroom, which served as a holding cell for the extras. The camera and lighting guys were setting up shots, while Union workers sat around in sweatshirts drinking coffee.

Unsure of what I was supposed to do, I reverted back to my natural state and just waited against the bar. I watched a prop girl fill beer bottles with ginger ale. Vials of fake cocaine rolled around on the counter.

On stage, the director was working with a fake punk band. All the actors up there had been dressed up to look like Sid Vicious.

“Should I strum my bass with the switchblade?” The guy acting as the lead singer asked, “or should I just, like, hold it in my teeth at some point?”

“No, no, that’s great!” The director said, “Use the knife! It’s anarchy, man!”

Nigel, our organist, cringed.

Nat, our singer, spotted a copy of the script in the corner. The title of the episode: “Punk IS Dead.”

In that moment, it was hard to disagree.

The hours passed, but still no one told us what we were actually supposed to do on the show. Then, all of a sudden, they called us to the stage. The union crew began setting up prop instruments.

“Okay,” the director said, “what I need you guys to do is play your song — except play without playing. I’m talking not strumming the strings, not hitting the drums, nothing…you got me?”

We nodded like morons.

“So you guys ‘play’ the song while we shoot from the crowd. Then, on my cue, you trash the stage! I mean break everything up here! Bass player- yeah, you — when I tell you, smash the neck of that bass into your amp. It’s rigged to blow up. After you blow the amp, I want you to stab the bass into the wall behind the stage, where the X is, okay?”

“Okay…,” Devin said, nervously.

“But don’t actually hit the wall, Kevin — that’s where they find the body. We’ll shoot that scene afterwards.”

Find the body?

We asked him to explain the plot.

The scene was supposed to take place at Trash Bar’s final show — we were playing the farewell party. An evil real estate developer, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., was going to bulldoze the beloved punk landmark to the ground to build a swanky hotel.

Only, during our set, the dead body of an ’80s punk rocker is uncovered in the wall behind us. The developer’s girlfriend, a supermodel/cop, then investigates, and the plot supposedly thickens…

Yeah, I know, I know — this seems idiotic.

But it was awesome, in the most surreal way.

I sat behind the drums as they herded in the extras. Before long, the room was packed tight. I tried to pretend that this was just another crowd, another gig…

Then one of our songs began blasting from unseen speakers.


The cameras were rolling! The crowd did their best to get into it, jumping and moshing, and throwing their hands up. A guy dealt coke in the corner. A chick threw her drink at the stage.

It felt like just another show — except people were being paid to pretend they liked our band.

It ruled! I mean, what a great idea! I wished we could afford to buy all of our crowds. Plus, we got to trash the stage.

Destroying a stage is a dream that every musician has, but few can afford to do. And let me tell you, breaking thousands of dollars of instruments is just as fun as I’d imagined it would be. Smashing guitars against the wall is epic, even if they’re Squires.


I leaned on the wall to catch my breath. Beside me, the prop guy applied dust to the corpse of the girl in the wall. I looked down at the pile of musical rubble with pride.

Cuba stood up front, flirting with some extras. The lead actress was side stage, arguing with the director.

“Why would my character ever come to this place? It smells like piss! I mean, what the fuck is a CBGB, anyway? I don’t even know what I’m saying…”

With that comment, the curtain was pulled open — this was all a joke. The thought was about as sobering as an acid trip.

Our television career ended as abruptly as it began. We did one more take, and then were ushered off set and into the street. There was no wrap party, celebrity hangouts, or any of that shit — we ended up down at The Charleston drinking cheap liquor and scarfing down their free pizza.

I realized that being on a TV show is just as fleeting as playing music. It was all hype, all pillow-talk bullshit – this TV gig wasn’t going to change my life, or make my career, or pay my bills. It was just like a concert — and incredible moment, and then the moment is gone.

— Rob Rufus, Blacklist Royals.

Blacklist Royals released a prolific LP, Die Young With Me, last year. Follow the band on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all things Blacklist Royals. Check out the band’s new music video for a cover of The Cure’s “Plainsong” via AllMusic now.

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