Image is everything. As a means to convince people you’ve just beamed down from Mars, or just to make your band image look more like a ‘gang’, deciding how to look ‘on duty’ is absolutely crucial.
From Elvis ‘quiff to the Kings Of Leon‘s extraordinary hairiness, looking cool has always been a key ingredient of great rock’n’roll. Like it or not, people are going to make judgements on your music from the pictures they see in the press or on the internet, so do yourselves a favour and at least think about your image first.
Unless you specifically want to look like you’ve come out of different sections of a department store, getting a coherent visual look is a good place to start. Firstly, dressing similarly is a lot easier on the eye, gives off a sense of purpose and, like all great bands, can make a coherent group from potentially diverse personalities.
But, getting an band image doesn’t have to be as contrived as it sounds or the ordeal it suggests. Wearing the same style T-shirt, picking up suit jackets from charity shops or even wearing the same colours are all fairly painless ways of presenting a united front. It doesn’t have to be costly either – the only thing you really need is a little imagination.
For some artist, image is almost as important as the music. Take Marilyn Manson. Would the God Of Fuck have had the same impact if he’d toned down the S&M gear? Would he bollocks. Seen as an extension of the creative process, your image can be an added means of expression. The more attention you draw to it, though, the more you’ll be judged by it.
The are plenty of variations on the image theme too. Badly Drawn Boy made himself instantly recognisable with his woolly hat, The White Stripes played the colour card and Limp Bizkit benefited immensely from Wes Borland’s contact lens and face paint fetish. In short, if you have something that sets you apart from the crowd, you’re onto a winner.
An images, then, is yet another means of getting you noticed and remembered. It can also give fans something tangible to grab hold of and mimic; nothing will get you an obsessive cult of lookalikes faster than wearing some outlandish or distinctive costumes.
Be warned though, no image, look or gimmick on earth will hide a repertoire of utter dross. Similarly, you also risk looking a right tit if what you’re doing visually is completely out of step with your music. The prospect of seeing 50 Cent in one of Justin Hawkins’ catsuits is quite frankly terrifying.
Making an effort can undoubtedly pay dividends. At the very least, it’ll separate you from hordes of pub-sloggers. At best, it can cause a frenzy on the catwalks. But be warned. If you don’t have the music to carry it off, you could end up looking very, very stupid. Owen Hopkin