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IT’S LIKE THAT: Pressin’ the F_ck Button

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Not that it matters so much anymore, but I remember in the booming days of the compact disc, when certain musical acts would tweak artwork, album titles, and song titles just to get their album onto the shelves of a retail store. Record labels wanted their artists’ discs to be sold in monster retail locations like Wal-Mart, because (sadly) most people buy their music at monster retail locations–that’s why many of today’s kids may not even know what a record store is.

Artists would usually agree with their labels, giving the all too safe answer, “Well, we want our record to be heard by as many people as possible.” Rarely would you read a story about a group refusing to alter their art for the sake of mass consumption. Even Nirvana, who spat in the face of music conventions, allowed their In Utereo track, “Rape Me,” to be changed to “Waif Me” on the CD’s track-listing.

(above: A name like The Fuck Buttons may not be as harmful to a band’s career as it used to be.)

Before digital downloads, a band’s survival depended greatly on moving discs at Wal-Mart–whether it seemed to be the punk rock thing to do or not. However, I couldn’t tell you how many times I wanted just one band to stand their ground, knowing that they would lose a good chunk of their income in the process–that’s punk rock.

Switching gears for a second, a year or so ago I became familiar with a group called The Fuck Buttons, which then brought to mind another group who wasn’t afraid to drop the “F” bomb: Holy Fuck. Speaking of (credible) indie acts with explicit band names, let’s not forget about Shit Disco. Maybe because I’m nearing my mid-30’s, my first reaction was, “C’mon, what kind of band name is that?” My brain–thinking like a 90’s record label exec–began listing all the reasons why it would be detrimental for a group to have an expletive in their name:

 Say bye-bye to Wal-Mart.

 Television hosts and VJ’s would have to alter the pronunciation of the band-name, meaning the mass public would get to know the group under a different moniker.

 The band-name would be hacked up by hyphens and asterisks when appearing in publications that don’t print expletives.

 No matter how good or popular the band gets, they’re pretty much writing themselves off the list of greatest acts ever. When was the last time you saw a band with the word “fuck” in its name, appear next to U2 or The Rolling Stones?

In my mind, having a “fuck” or a “shit” in your band name just seemed like a headache not worth having. Some mainstream music critics may argue that The Fuck Buttons’ style of noisy music would never appeal to the mainstream anyway, but in music–as in life–I’ve learned that never doesn’t necessarily mean never (just ask Brett Favre). There have been countless groups in the annals of music that went from sloppy, underground club-dwellers to mainstream, even-your-grandma-knows-about-them superstars.

Though I don’t think The Fuck Buttons or Shit Disco are particularly clever band-names, I realized that these acts have done what I always wanted a band to do–utter a big “F-you” to conventional music norms and practices. By including a swear word in your band’s name, you pretty much give yourself complete autonomy. You never have to worry about shipping edited versions of CD’s to Wal-Mart, you never have to worry about playing corporately sponsored cocktail parties, and you don’t have to worry about catering to the mainstream–if they like you enough, they’ll go out of their way to cater to you.

And speaking in terms of the mainstream, not every band necessarily wants to be a darling for the masses. Maybe by calling your band The Fuck Buttons you only want your music to be heard by a certain few–but, in the age where musical acts are creating their own internet fan bases, maybe that certain few isn’t so few at all.

Every explicitly named band that never made it into Wal-Mart are standing up and cheering right now.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.