10 Bands That Really Wanna Be British
The U.K. has a long history of creating things we yankees get really excited about. This week, we’re all abuzz about England’s new baby prince, but even more than royal births, we’re into British rock ‘n’ roll. Our tea-drinking former overlords have produced some of the most influential bands of all time, and ever since the Beatles took the stage on ‘Ed Sullivan,’ Americans have been singing and strumming and dressing like limeys. What follows is just a small sampling: 10 Bands That Really Wanna Be British. We’d call ’em traitors, but blimey, we can’t blame ’em!
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Perpetually referencing and honoring the Rolling Stones, the Brian Jonestown Massacre are a logical way to start this list. The San Francisco group derives half of its clever hybrid name from legendary Stones guitarist Brian Jones, and back in 1996, four albums into a discography already filled with Mick and Keef homages, they dropped ‘Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request,’ a direct tribute to the Stones’ 1967 psychedelic record ‘The Satanic Majesties Request.’
The Dandy Warhols
Speaking of the Brian Jonestown Massacre … might the longstanding tension between BJM frontman Anton Newcombe and Dandy Warhols’ lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor (depicted in the documentary ‘DIG!’) stem from both bands’ desperate desire to be British? Probably not, but either way, the Dandies’ tongue-in-cheek, psychedelic-tinged power-pop is heavily influenced by Britpop. David Bowie even asked the group to open for him on his 2003 A Reality Tour.
Locksley’s clean power-pop sensibilities and jangly guitars make it pretty clear they’re big fans of the Beatles. They’ve often been compared to the pre-psychedelic Fab Four, but don’t get it twisted, mate: These guys ain’t Liverpudlian. They’re from Madison, Wis.
Ever since their 2002 debut album, ‘Turn on the Bright Lights,’ Interpol have been likened to Joy Division. While the band hasn’t always seemed especially pleased with the comparison, the combination of their punctuated instrumentation and frontman Paul Banks’ deadpan baritone reveal an obvious debt to Manchester’s gloom-rock godfathers.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club not only feature a former member of fellow British wannabe act the Brian Jonestown Massacre — that would be guitarist Peter Hayes — but they join Anton and company in taking sonic cues from Scotland’s Jesus and Mary Chain and England’s Creation, among other U.K. faves.
Although ’70s cult heroes Big Star basically invented American power-pop, they drew heavy inspiration from — and earned frequent comparisons to — several British sources, including the Beatles, the Stones and the Who. Of course, they also played with plenty of Southern soul, and that amalgamation of Memphis and Merry Ol’ England was part of what made them great.
The Killers’ glitzy rock anthems reflect the larger-than-life nature of their hometown, Las Vegas. Although they embody the essence of Sin City, you’d be forgiven for thinking these rockers are from the U.K., as their sound also carries the distinct influence of ‘80s British synth-pop bands. They even lifted their name from New Order’s ‘Crystal’ video.
Like Interpol, Crystal Stilts have been dogged by constant Joy Division comparisons, and again, they’re not undeserved. Frontman Brad Hargett sings in a gloomy, disconnected baritone, and it even sounds like he has a bit of a British accent. Alas, this five-piece outfit is from Brooklyn by way of Florida.
For more than two decades, Green Day have delivered raucous guitar music, and while they’ve drifted in recent years toward good ol’ American arena rock, their 1994 breakthrough ‘Dookie’ presented them as old-school punk revivalists. Given their sneering vocals and crunching guitars, it was no great leap from ‘Basket Case’ to the Buzzcocks, Clash and Sex Pistols.
Crocodiles hail from California, but they’re arguably more London fog than they are San Diego sunshine. For starters, guitarist Charles Rowell moved to London after marrying Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistol Paul Cook, and musically speaking, the foursome is heavily indebted to British acts like the Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo and the Bunnymen. Might the Crocs have gotten their name from the latter group’s 1980 debut? Seems bloody likely.