i_amthecosmos: (Gerard/Ray happy)
Many people have heard versions of this rant in aim or other such places, but I've never fully written it down. Here it goes, the Normal Guy Theory.

This theory states that many bands will have a member who reads as closer to the broad societal definition of "normal" than the rest of the group. Sometimes the Normal Guy is simply normal compared to the rest of the other freaks, in other cases he's so ordinary you can't believe he's in the band. This obviously applies more to bands with a strong musical and/or visual identity (punk, metal, emo). The Normal Guy is more common than you think. Here's ways to find him.

(1) In many cases, the Normal Guy is a replacement for a departing original member. Bob Bryar from My Chemical Romance was their Normal Guy, and he was a sound mixer who had gone on the road with them before-as a sound guy. When he joined the band, he continued to be uncomfortable with the spotlight. Now that he and the band have parted ways, Normal Guy status is now represented by Ray Toro, who previously was a bit too much of a nerdy guitar enthusiast to really have the spot. Other replacements that were the Normal Guy: Jon from Panic! At the Disco, Gilby Clarke in Guns N' Roses.

(2) If the normal guy is an original member, he is often the best friend of the lead singer or main songwriter, the band's lead guy/girl. Izzy Stradlin was Axl's best friend and was the Normal Guy (in a broad sense), until sobriety and wanting to make his own music led to his leaving. Sami Yaffa from Hanoi Rocks was the closest friend Mike Monroe had in the first version of the band, and he had the fewest dramatics of any of the group.

(3) Normal Guys are often drummers, bassists, or rhythm guitarists. Jackie Fox was the Runaway's Normal Girl: bassist and now entertainment lawyer.

(4) Some bands cannot tolerate a Normal Guy and will fly apart if they get one. Motley Crue didn't have anyone within spitting distance of normal until they replaced Vince Neil with John Corabi. That lasted exactly one album. The Sex Pistols threw Glen Matlock out as soon as they possibly could, Johnny Rotten being unable to stand him. The Ramones kept CJ in the band for years, but only because they had the slowest slide to destruction of any major band, ever. A band with a faster metabolism might've spit him out sooner.

Now that we've established who they are, what makes the Normal Guy normal? Usually it's some combination of practicality, common sense, groundedness, and actually being in it for the music. (Normal Guys can be the best or second-best musicians in their band). A goofy sense of innocence can play into this as well. Gilby Clarke on Behind the Music, talking about the GNR debacle in Montreal that led to the stadium being set on fire: "That was my first riot!" If the Normal Guy isn't one of the main songwriters, his contributions might be ignored by the others. This can eventually lead to a split.

The damnest bands can be hiding a Normal Guy: Jeff Magnum was the bass player of the Dead Boys, and in "Please Kill Me", he repeats "All I wanted to do was play the bass really loud". His fellow Dead Boys almost drove him crazy. Megadeth's Dave Ellefson got addicted to herion and still managed to hang on to some of his sweet Midwest-boy charm.

The Normal Guy brings needed balance to an act: Ziggy Stardust needed Mick Ronson to give them a solid rock guitar foundation. The Who needed John Entwhistle to stand there and look mildly embarrassed when the rest of them went nuts. Their stablity can help hold the center of the group together.

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September 2017

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