It's 2001: The whole world is rocking out to the Alien Ant Farm groove. We just released our album ANThology, we're touring the globe, and people are going crazy for our hard-rock cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."
That was the balls. Back then, everyone wanted to be in AAF, and who could blame them? We were the absolute shit! But when I look at my bandmates today, I can't help but notice a few of them have lost their initial enthusiasm for the group.
Not me, though. No, sir. I've always been in Alien Ant Farm for the long haul.
Sure, I could have left after "Smooth Criminal." Or three years after "Smooth Criminal." I could have been one of those fair-weather AAF members who throws in the towel, whining that we've only had one big hit in our 15-year history. But that's not who I am.
Suppose I'd quit the band right before "Smooth Criminal" and missed out on the entire late 2001 to early 2002 "Smooth Criminal" phenomenon. Imagine how foolish I would have looked! Well, who's to say we're not on the precipice of another "Smooth Criminal" right now?
That's why I'm with Alien Ant Farm no matter what. We have experience connecting with an audience and really surprising our listeners. For example, the first time people heard our "Smooth Criminal" cover, they probably thought, "Those guys are rocking out to a Michael Jackson song? That's crazy!" But "Smooth Criminal" did more than open people's ears—it opened their hearts. We can do that again.
I believe—I have always believed—that this band has what it takes to once more cover a top-selling R&B artist and reclaim its position at the top of Billboard's Modern Rock chart.
Yes, we've had our rough patches, particularly during the period from 2002 to 2009. There were missteps, like releasing a follow-up album, truANT, that contained no covers at all. (Not a smart move!) And things really got bad when people started quitting Alien Ant Farm because they wanted to "go back to college" or were "tired of playing Smooth-fucking-Criminal every fucking night."
But if this band can survive nine years without covering a new Michael Jackson song, it can survive anything. We are Alien Ant Farm, dammit, and people are going to remember what that means if we have to cover the entire Thriller album.
We'll start by taking our music directly to the fans. We may not have a video in rotation on MTV, but that won't stop us from reuniting every couple years to play a grueling string of club dates in Australia or the Balkans. And I bet the kids who listened to our version of "Smooth Criminal" when it first came out are old enough now to have us play "Smooth Criminal" at their wedding receptions.
I know it's hard to believe, but it blows people's minds when I tell them we never expected our "Smooth Criminal" cover to be a hit. We thought our debut single "Movies" would be our big breakout song, but lucky for us, radio stations preferred "Smooth Criminal."
If they hadn't, people today might not even remember the name Alien Ant Farm!
We certainly wouldn't have made our classic "Smooth Criminal" video. Remember? That kid in the surgical mask break-dancing, the guy with the fork mohawk and the werewolf contact lenses, everyone doing that leaning move from the Michael Jackson video. At last the whole world saw those goofy faces our singer Dryden and bassist Tye like to make, and how their showmanship allows me and guitarist Terry to concentrate on rocking out.
Which we totally do.
Of course, it's a new decade now, and Alien Ant Farm has to step up its game and lay down some fresh tracks. And I won't lie to you, at least one of those tracks will need to have some "Smooth Criminal"-ish elements to it if we want to recapture the old magic.
I know this band has another "Smooth Criminal" in it. I know it in my bones. Mark my words, we'll add a heavy guitar riff to an already-popular song and reclaim our crown. "Smooth Criminal" was so great, my only regret is that we can't just do it again! You know, with a horn section or maybe a different beat or even—
Oh, man, I just got an idea. A once-in-every-10-years idea. This could be our moment, guys!
Alien Ant Farm forever!