The zero version of Bomb Collar was a show I did in 2012 called The Last Prom (pictured above). It was a stage musical built around a band I was in at the time, also called The Last Prom. The band was cast as the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and I played the Antichrist, who in this show was a teenage nerd attempting to stage the Apocalypse as a 80s-teen-movie-style prom night.
The Last Prom was presented in the strict format of a live set by a band. All of the storytelling, exposition and drama had to be delivered as either song performance or between-song-banter and crowd work. It was a bit of a creative straitjacket, the sort of thing I really like. Like a lot of my stuff it was a foolishly self-indulgent blend of my different pop culture obsessions. But it went well. The crowd Responded To What We Were Doing.
Bomb Collar has carried over the dramatic conceit of the Live Gig. Everything the audience experiences is encapsulated by the Last Pop Singer Alive performing to his Audience, who are a comically threadbare revolutionary army staging a haphazard push into the Deep Sea Colonies.
So why? Short answer is that 15 years of playing in rock bands has left me with deep, complex and conflicting feelings about the Live Gig as a thing. You do it for long enough and accepted facts of life like stages, support slots and sound checks become absurd constructs crying out for deconstruction. Even in the gigging bands I currently play with (Babyfreeze, The Missing Lincolns and the earnestcore cabaret act that evolved out of The Last Prom, now just known as PROM) I’m neurotically tugging at the edges of what it means to be on a stage delivering a set of songs to an audience. Theatre work like Bomb Collar allows me to interrogate the Gig in an even more aggressive and direct fashion, using fantastical genre trappings and conceits to smash certain metaphors into your face.
My hope is that the gig structure also provides a recognizable anchor for the audience and helps me get away with ladling all kinds of artistic and cultural reference points into the one show. At the very least it’s a rigorous format with some clear standards for success or failure. If that’s a particularly dorky way to talk about what bands do, well that gives you a very good indication of what to expect from the show.
All the good and bad types of pain
I won’t speak any lies, You’re only gonna speak my name
When we’re together.