I was driving to work last week listening to Hair Nation (shush, just shush!) and the DJ mentioned that a hoped-for Dokken reunion fell through, with vocalist Don Dokken being the holdout. The other three original band members formed their own group called Tooth and Nail (also the title of Dokken’s 1984 album) and their first album is titled Dump the Chump. While I’m curious to see what Lynch, Pilson and Brown put together, it’s a shame to see one of my favorite 80’s bands still behaving like babies 25 years later. They’re all in their 50’s, Don being the oldest at 58. [Editing note: here we see a double-standard on my part, since one of my signature lines since high school, and one that I still live by today, is “Age is a state of mind.”] “Dump the Chump?” Really? Even back in the 80’s there were plenty of stories about their in-fighting. But you know what? Listen to the music and the performances, and I think that conflict is part of what made the songs so good. Everything had more “bite” to it, and I’ve always felt some of the internal conflict with the band also led to some of their best creativity and performances – when it was kept at a controlled level. Get out of control, as rock stars are prone to do, and you get antics like Guns ‘n Roses destroying hotels and urinating in the aisle on airplanes.
The first band that made me consider the value of conflict was Van Halen. Listening to the songs from the original lineup with David Lee Roth and you can again hear the music had more “bite” than it did after Diamond Dave left the group. Eddie’s guitar sound was certainly more raw and his soloing (and his overplaying and “noodling” as he called it) was more off-the-cuff, almost as if he was channeling his frustrations into a creative outlet. Again, plenty of stories over the DLR years of in-fighting. Once Sammy Hagar entered the picture, I got the impression Eddie was more confident as leader of the band and more into composing and arranging his music. The early years with Sammy was one big happy party with everyone getting along, and while they certainly did put out some great songs in the “Van Hagar” years, there was also something missing. The “bite” was gone.
Shifting forward in time, one example of a lack of conflict doing more harm than good was my appearance in Episode #30 of the Shut Up, We’re Talking! podcast. While I never thought the show was “bad” by any means, it was at the time the lowest-rated episode (and highest number of comments, if I recall) simply because there was no conflict at all between the guests. None. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I’m sure it was just purely coincidence, but every topic on the agenda Darren, Karen, John and myself all agreed upon. There wasn’t even the hint of a dissenting opinion, not even for the sake of playing Devil’s Advocate. The listener’s didn’t like it. And I have no choice to agree. I personally will not listen to a podcast with only one host, because there is no discussion and therefore no liveliness and no source for conflict to generate creativity. Even with podcasts with multiple hosts, I tend to not enjoy shows where all the hosts share the same background in whatever the topic is about (usually gaming). I’ve said before that in MMOs I personally prefer to be in guilds with a varied roster of personalities, not just a bunch of “gamer dudes” always having the same “gamer dude” discussions. Give me some non-gamers, some housewives, some CEO’s, some MMA fighters, anything but people who mimic my own background or interests. Similarly, I rank podcasts higher when hosts include both males and females. That discourse alone is plenty of entertainment value because you’re guaranteed to have different backgrounds influencing their opinions and preferences.
Paul (Oakstout) has brought up a few times recently that he thinks a gaming-oriented podcast hosted by himself, Aaron and me would be a good idea. I always burst into laughter, saying he just wants my blog bombed with hate mail when people hear me vocalizing just how opinionated I am. But he says he thinks it’s interesting because while the three of us often enjoy the same (or at least similar) games, nearly 100% of the time we enjoy them for completely different reasons and don’t always see eye-to-eye on the others’ preferences. For my two cents, while I have had some creative (and silly) ideas for podcasts before, there is no way I’m going to be co-hosting with my little punk-ass voice up against Mr. Guitarist/Songwriter Aaron and his deep babe-magnet voice. Yes, I am precisely that shallow! Not to mention, as stated above in my own personal listening preferences, it would be three dudes being dudes. An aural sausage-fest. That is not something I’d want to listen to, much less take the time to record, edit, and produce. Harry Potter wouldn’t have been as special if it were “The Adventures of Ron and Harry,” now would it? The addition of Hermione and her perspective was what solidified them as friends and an interesting band of adventurers. A few dudes waggling their wands is just that – it takes a woman to turn it into magic…