ASK DR. ROCK Say you've done a lot more practicing than primping. Your bandmates are starting to bore themselves with their uniform of New Balance kicks and give-away T-shirts with busted-dot-com logos. So how are you supposed to come up with a look or even, jeez, a show?
Dr. Rock feels your fashion-free pain and took up the issue with the party starters of Gravy Train!!!! Not for nothing did the Bay Area raunch peddlers title a tune off their new album, All the Sweet Stuff (Cochon), "The Hair Stare."
1. "Making the audience uncomfortable is a good place to start," vocalist Chunx says. "All the bands that were most memorable to me growing up were either awkward or androgynous or exuded something that made me so uncomfortable that it led me to become intrigued. Rock stars should always seem superhuman. Or alien. If you can imagine them eating breakfast, you're probably not doing it right."
2. "I would start with fashion," says keyboardist Hunx, who also styles hair at Down at Lulu's in Oakland. "You need to get a look down or matching outfits or at least have a theme." Absorb the high-camp retro swank of artists like the Bay City Rollers and Slade on DVD and study old dance shows to cop ideas and moves. "We don't get inspiration from new bands," he adds. "People just dress like their neighbors. But even matching T-shirts is a start."
3. "I always like props," Chunx raves. "I think Alice Cooper beheading people on stage was genius!"
4. "This probably comes as no surprise, but I'd always advocate any overt sexuality," Chunx says. "It's the cheapest way to go, but people like to see people get naked and overtly, crazily sexual onstage. No one's going to want to look away even if it's the car-accident syndrome!"
GRAVY TRAIN!!!! July 7, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com
We got the answers to your burning music biz questions. E-mail Ask Dr. Rock at firstname.lastname@example.org.