Alien Ant Farm

BLENDER HATES us, man,” slurs Dryden Mitchell, Alien Ant Farm’s pained singer. This is pretty rich, considering that only this evening we have given him $848 (or its euro equivalent) to blow any way he and his band choose. “Some people in the media have wished us dead,” he complains. “All we want is a little love. Why can’t you just give us a little love, dude?”

This sincere and heartfelt request for affection could be more easily considered were Mitchell not completely naked and waving his penis perilously close to Blender’s nose.

We’re in a hotel room in Paris. It’s 4 A.M., and Alien Ant Farm have not only succeeded in demolishing their cash stack by taking brothers-in-angst Adema out for a night on the town; they have also gotten into an unpleasant interband argument, been thrown out of a restaurant, instigated a nasty fistfight and exposed themselves at every opportunity.

It had all been such a nice idea. Both Alien Ant Farm and Adema were supporting Linkin Park and Staind in Paris, and with a night free, AAF had elected to show their glum chums a magical time in the City of Light. They would eat like kings, drink “an assful of tequila” and then “go get seriously fucked up.” What could possibly go wrong?

The night begins promisingly over beer, menthol cigarettes and furrowed-brow conversation in a homely steak restaurant. Mitchell makes for an engaging (if slightly eccentric) host, and goes to great lengths to ensure that his 16 guests are enjoying their “date.”

He talks of his obsessive fondness for Edie Brickell (“I know more about her than she does”), displays an impressive knowledge of the personnel in Sting’s band, sweetly reminisces about his California childhood (Mom was a Mexican stripper, Dad a Canadian literary professor, he says) and enthuses about his latest side project, Shit Wizard.

His mood darkens slightly when discussing last year’s road accident that could easily have ended Alien Ant Farm’s career, not to mention their lives. On May 22, 2002, in Spain, their tour bus hit a truck. Their driver was killed, Mitchell sustained a broken neck and guitarist Terry Corso shattered a shinbone.

Mitchell spent six months in a metal halo; the holes where it was screwed into his skull are still visible. Recovery was slow (“I couldn’t even piss by myself”), but miraculously, AAF reconvened to record and release TruANT, the follow-up to their 2 million–selling debut. “All I think now,” Mitchell murmurs, “is that it’s good to be alive, and fuck everything else.”

To celebrate ongoing life, more Kronenberg 1664 premium lager is ordered, as is some full-bodied American red wine, despite the interesting French selection on the menu. It is while ordering the wine that Adema’s frontman, Mark Chavez (half-brother of Korn’s Jonathan Davis), proves to be a real charmer. That is, if calling your waitress a “stinking fucking French bitch whore” still passes for charm these days.

To express their disapproval at Chavez’s uncouth outburst, both bands begin to flick food at the pocket-size singer. He responds with a hissy fit and throws a glassful of wine, along with the glass, at one of Adema’s guitarists (“You motherfuckin’…pacifist!”), who promptly leaves.

Various AAF men attempt to placate Chavez, but he demands that they “mind [their] own fucking business” and suggests that a fight might sort out the problem. “I’ll be throwing lefts and rights,” he warns his 15-strong opposition. AAF bassist Tye Zamora briefly looks up from his prime rib. “I’m scared, dude,” he says.

In a cloud of hair product, Chavez flounces out, but not before the management has made it plain that we must pay the bill and vacate the premises immediatement. “Or else I’ll call the police,” the manager states plainly. “And they are just going to love you guys.”

We swiftly hit the bars of the bohemian enclave of Bastille. Large glasses of bourbon are consumed, beers are chugged, hugs are hugged and the air is thick with bonhomie. To set a seal on this feeling of bands reunited, Mitchell takes out his penis and offers strangers “a taste of my man-batter.”

It would appear that Mitchell – who, in a certain light, resembles a nü-metal George Clooney – has a childlike fascination with his own and anyone else’s genitals. It becomes commonplace for him to conduct an entire conversation while cupping a colleague’s testicles. By the time we get to the seedier clubs in the city’s Pigalle neighborhood, Blender‘s photographer is desperate for a group picture not showing the Mitchell member.

It’s in Pigalle, in the shadow of the Moulin Rouge windmill, that things get surreal, then unpleasant. During a mass-moon photo shoot, a passing Frenchman steps up behind Alien Ant Farm’s Mike Cosgrove and attempts to anally penetrate the bewildered drummer before casually resuming his late-evening stroll.

Perhaps due to this unwanted invasion of personal space, Cosgrove later decides to pick a fight with a carload of locals. “C’mon, you fucking French faggots!” he screams. Several AAF and Adema guys get involved, but Cosgrove takes a cracking shot to the face that he believes may have broken his nose.

Undeterred by the altercation, Mitchell leads the way to a last bar, sensing there may be a few final euros in the budget. The party proceeds back to our hotel, where minibars are drained and Mitchell once again produces his penis.

“Dude,” he earnestly says to Blender while gently rubbing the ubiquitous organ. “If all these other guys weren’t here right now, I would totally suck your cock.”

Well, they don’t call it gay Paree for nothing.

© Adrian DeevoyBlender, November 2003

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