Since we’ve all been stuck at home since mid-March, my friend Sequoia has been hosting delightful trivia nights for friends on Zoom. In Philadelphia, pub trivia is known as “quizzo,” so Sequoia’s weekly event is cleverly dubbed Sequizzo (or, if you don’t have time for all those syllables, Squizzo). This week’s theme was rock and roll, and when I was asked to commandeer a round, I decided to focus on fictional bands. My questions are below, followed by some notes about how I put them together, followed by the answers.
- The 1999 film Almost Famous follows a teenage journalist on tour with the fictional rock band Stillwater in the early 1970s. Two of Stillwater’s songs were written for the film by Peter Frampton. The other three were co-written by the director, Cameron Crowe, and his wife at the time. What rock star was married to Cameron Crowe?
- Lenny and the Squigtones, from the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, featured members of what two other fictional bands that actually put out records and toured? One point for each.
- I’m moving back to Philly soon after almost 12 years away. One of the things I’ll miss most about New York is my favorite music venue, Saint Vitus, which hosts primarily metal and punk shows. Of the four bands I’m about to name, three are real bands that have played at Saint Vitus, and one is made up. Identify the fake band:
- Piss Away the Puke
- Asthma Castle
- What fictional venue is the fictional band Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes best known for playing?
- Jem and the Holograms, stars of the 1980s animated series Jem, had two rival bands, one of whom had the same name as what real band that formed in 1977 in New Jersey?
- Name at least three members of The Electric Mayhem, the Muppet Show house band.
- Before her son became famous as the guitarist for The Monkees, Michael Nesmith’s mother started a company that eventually sold to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million. What product did she invent?
- In the American version of the sitcom The Office, the mild-mannered accountant Kevin Malone is the drummer and lead singer for the local Police tribute band Scrantonicity. Before turning their attention to the Police, what was Kevin’s band originally called, and what band did they pay tribute to?
- The band at the center of the 1970 Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls takes its name from what influential member of the early 20th century temperance movement?
- The 1998 film The Big Lebowski features a trio of German nihilists who make electro-pop under the name Autobahn. When they try to extort Jeffrey Lebowski by sending him a severed toe, what real-life singer-songwriter plays the woman who loses her toe?
A handful of these questions were ones I had in mind before doing any research. Material for the rest came from numerous online lists of fictional bands and the bottomless internet rabbithole they sent me down. To keep the game fun and engaging, here are some things I kept in mind while formulating the questions:
- Try to offer multiple pathways to the answer. Maybe you don’t know that the Banana Splits drummer was named Bingo, but you do know that the game of bingo was standardized by Hugh J. Ward at carnivals in western Pennsylvania in the 1920s. Intersections like these let questions appeal to different kinds of specialized knowledge.
- Confound expectations. In this case, most questions that begin by referring to a movie or TV show will make players initially assume that the answer will be the name of whatever fictional band is associated with that movie or show. But the questions often go in another direction which requires different and/or deeper knowledge.
- Getting an answer wrong is less unsatisfying when the right answer is an interesting fact. Learning that the guy who played Beethoven in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is named Clifford Davis is anticlimactic. It’s much more fun to learn that Joan of Arc was played by Jane Wiedlen, the guitarist for The Go-Go’s.
- Rock and roll is dominated by dudes. Make at least half of the questions about non-dudes.
Despite my best efforts, my round ended up being more difficult than I had hoped, at least for this group of players. I was probably trying too hard to be clever, especially with the part about confounding expectations, so I plan to simplify things a bit next time. But hey, maybe you got all the answers right! Find out below.
- Nancy Wilson (of Heart)
- Spinal Tap (Michael McKean and Christopher Guest) and The Blues Brothers (Murphy Dunne)
- Piss Away the Puke
- Mos Eisley Cantina (Star Wars)
- The Misfits
- Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, Lips
- Liquid Paper
- Jokers and Tokers, paying tribute to Steve Miller Band
- Carrie Nation
- Aimee Mann