10 anonymous artists
by AUX staff
March 5, 2014
Where did Win Butler go to high school? What’s the name of that other dude in Green Day? We expect to know everything about our favourite bands, and sites like Wikipedia, Metal-Archives and even Facebook help make that possible. But in an era of over-sharing, the anonymous are pushing back. Like with Guy Fawkes mask wearing hackvisists there is an increasing tendency for bands to play up the mystery; to hide their identities; to “leak” new music; to eschew interviews altogether.
Anonymity can be a powerful promotional tool, and for some bands its essential to conducting a peaceful private life. These 10 bands are a prime example of both.
Zolar X were one of the pioneering bands of the early California glam rock scene. Not bad, since they claimed to be from space. As their biography tells it, the band’s original four aliens landed on earth in 1973 and went onto speak their own language on stage to a pretty crucial amount of buzz. It never materialized in any real commercial appeal—to reiterate, they sang in an invented language—but their legacy was enough to catch the eye of everyone from Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls to Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, whose rerelease of the band’s first and only album led to a brief reunion in 2005.
Klaatu timed it right, and in 1976, everyone thought they were the Beatles. The origins of this rumour are murky, but it all stems from Klaatu’s decision to credit their music and production under just their band name, no real names. And the same people who thought Paul McCartney died after making Revolver were convinced that this was the remaining members’ secret way of honouring their dead friend. It was not.
We’ve known for a while that the man behind Oderus Urungus is none other than tank enthusiast Dave Brockie, but that Gwar have nonetheless chosen to keep their names away from their characters is what’s continued to endear them to fans, and what makes candid moments like Cory Smoot’s untimely death all the more impactful.
Lordi is cock-rock’s interpretation of Gwar, and after winning Eurovision in 2006, they skyrocketed to new successes. Each member has its own character, and each remains anonymous… with one exception. Tonmi Lillman was the band’s drummer for two years prior to his death in 2012; known on stage as Otus, he’s the only member whose identity has been confirmed to this point.
Interviewing Ghost B.C. was an interesting experience: their bus isn’t unlike that of any other touring metal band except for its windows, which are blacked out if not covered outright. And talking to one of the Nameless Ghouls we were quick to find him incredibly candid about the band’s anonymity. Ghost see their band as escapism, and that’s in particular what their fans and peers have bought into. There are more than a few rumours about the men behind the masks, and word out of their Swedish hometown is that their identities are all but common knowledge. Yet here we are, mostly unsure about their real names and, to be honest, absolutely better for it.
It’s common knowledge at this point that Slipknot are just a bunch of ugly dudes from Iowa, but pre-Stone Sour there was a genuine fascination over what the angsty nine-piece actually looked like under those elaborate masks. Early-aughts issues of Hit Parader and Revolver flew off the shelves for having the smallest peek’s of Corey Taylor’s left nostril, something we can barely process in today’s age of Instagram and TMZ.
Masked Intruder are an absolute gimmick in the most charming of ways; a four piece, colour-coded pop-punk band with sugary sweet melodies and a penchant for petty crimes. They’re the Ramones meets a modern version of a leather-jacket wearing Hollywood street gang circa 1950s; the kind whose switchblades are combs and whose haircuts are the toughest things about them. And even though they’re probably just, like, The Ergs, their balaclava-peddling anonymity is such a selling point that we can’t be bothered looking into it any further.
We now know that Destroid is an electronic super-group spearheaded by Canadian producer Excision, but when their first video went viral on Halloween 2012, everyone genuinely wondered: could this be Daft Punk? Did they get a third member? Turns out nope, it was “just” Excision’s team-up with with Downlink and Pendulum’s KJ Sawka, but the initial hype was enough to sustain their first album to some solid success.
For a time, Prozzäk seemed like the most popular mysterious fake-British band in the world. Everyone wondered who they could possibly be! And it ended up being two dudes from the Philosopher Kings!
Doom might be the best at anonymity. Everyone knows his real name is Daniel Dumile, it’s pretty easy to figure out what he actually looks like, and yet he still sends out ringers in his trademark mask to perform for him sometimes. Literally you never know if you’re going to see the real Doom.