Irony blows. Not literary irony, like Shakespearean or Homeric irony. It's this new kind that has freshman teen queens donning AC/DC shirts from Target, Paris Hilton sporting a Gucci trucker cap and Manhattanites daintily sipping tall boys of $7 PBRs. After stealing our best shit (AC/DC shirts, trucker caps and PBR), the "new ironists" have come for U.K. band Art Brut.
Well, fuck off, new ironists. You can't have them. Brut singer Eddie Argos likes us regular folk and we like him.
"People always think we're joking when we sing about rock 'n' roll," says Argos. "They think it's all a joke, but it's not. We're being honest in our songs. We just really love all this stuff."
It's hard to believe that anyone who sings "And yes this is my singing voice/ It's not irony" isn't being ironic. But this sentiment, taken from Brut's song "Formed a Band," isn't the double switchback Argos insists. Like Elvis or David Lee Roth or Bryan Adams, Argos loves rock un-intellectually. He loves it without pretension.
The band's sincerity is twice as hard to believe after seeing them live. They twist and wheel wildly on stage. With his pencil-thin mustache, Argos stumbles around gleefully. They're campy and raucous and it's impossible to tell if they're candid or posing.
I mean, how in hell can a guy with Freddie Mercury's mustache be genuine? But he can. Because it's not Fred's 'stache, it's Jonathan Richman's.
"I love Jonathan Richman," says Argos. "I'm totally obsessed with him."
Once again, Argos isn't joking. It's nearly impossible for him to have a 15-minute conversation with a journalist and not talk about Richman. He adores Richman in the same way you went ape for New Kids on the Block in '90. Gushing about Richman firmly places Argos at odds with the new ironists-they don't love anything in a non-ironic way; they only love their mom because it's suddenly retro to do so.
When Art Brut played Richman's famous Cambridge, Mass., club The Middle East this spring, he nearly lost it. The show ended with the whole band chanting, "Art Brut, Top of the Pops! Jonathan Richman, Top of the Pops! Modern Lovers, Top of the Pops! Art Brut, Top of the Pops!"
"I think that some of our songs lasted 15 minutes longer at The Middle East because I was so excited," he says.
This is how Argos rolls. When the band played "Moving to L.A." for the first time in L.A. last year, he almost lost it singing, "Hang around with Axl Rose/ Buy myself some brand new clothes/ Everything is gonna be just fine/ I hear the murder rate is in decline."
"I'd been singing the song for eight or nine years before I'd been to L.A.," he says. "When I got there and played it, I got a bit emotional. It's really quite funny, isn't it? I'm up on stage with a tear in my eye, my fist clenched. I mean there's nothing better than singing a song about a place when you're in the place. Everyone sings along. It's great."
The only thing that didn't live up to rocking Southern California was the lack of walking. Argos usually spends his mornings drinking Snapple and walking from thrift shop to thrift shop. But, as we all know, nobody walks in L.A.
But other than that, rock-star life has been just as Argos dreamed it would be. Drinking and dancing and un-ironic, a.m. Snapple consumption.
"I love playing, I love touring, I love it all," he says. Then, chuckling, he adds: "The only thing I don't have yet that I pictured is a big house. But I'm on tour so much I'd never get to use it, so that really doesn't matter. Who needs that anyway?"
Art Brut plays with We Are Scientists and Spinto Band at House of Blues on Sept. 29. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $14.50. 619-299-BLUE.