First for music news
This Week's Issue
You’re logged in

NME Blogs - NME Blogs

This One Goes To Eleven - The Best Fictional Bands Of All Time

By Andy Welch

Posted on 13 Mar 14

 
 

From the stars of 'Almost Famous' and 'Velvet Goldmine' to 'High Fidelity' and 'Spinal Tap', cinema is full of brilliant fictional bands. The Prems are the next fictitious group to follow in these cinematic footsteps - they feature in 'Svengali', the forthcoming film written, produced by and starring Jonny Owen. He plays Paul 'Dixie' Dean, a postman-turned-band manager and full-time dreamer from the Welsh valleys. Dixie and girlfriend Shell (played by 'This Is England' and 'Line Of Duty''s Vicky McClure) quickly move to London to manage the band they've seen on YouTube, a band they believe to be the best thing since The Stooges.

The rest of the film unfolds in similarly warm-hearted fashion; Martin Freeman puts in a turn as a surly record-shop-owning Mod, Michael Socha plays The Prems' wild guitarist Tommy and there are small appearances and cameos from NME Awards host Huw Stephens, Carl Barât, Alan McGee, Matt Berry, Maxine Peake, Morwenna Banks and, last but by no means least, former NME staffer Jamie Fullerton.

Before 'Svengali' is released on March 21, let's have a look at the best fictional bands of the big and small screen. And, in honour of Spinal Tap's custom Marshalls, this one goes to 11…

11. Sonic Death Monkey – 'High Fidelity'
The name alone is enough to get them in this list. As would Barry Jive And The Uptown Five or their other one-time name Kathleen Turner Overdrive, come to mention it. Jack Black's annoying as hell throughout, but don't let that, or John Cusack's dreadful DJ skills, detract from SDM's brilliance.



10. Timmy! And The Lords Of The Underworld – 'South Park'
Any metal band looking to launch in 2014 could do a lot worse than look at Timmy and his Lords Of The Underworld for tips. All you need for success, in a small Colorado town or at festival sites around the UK, at least, is a Peter Crouch lookalike shouting his name over the sickest of Megadeth-lite riffs. Timmay!



9. The Blues Brothers' Show Band And Revue – 'The Blues Brothers'
Jake and Elwood originally began as a sketch on US staple Saturday Night Live, and went on to release an album before having their own film in 1980. You can't argue with their material, a set borrowing soul and R&B big-hitters, but the mayhem they caused wherever they went was all them.



7. Marvin Berry & The Starlighters – 'Back To The Future'
We only know of one gig they played, at the Enchantment Under The Sea Saturday night dance, but man, did it count… Thanks to Marty McFly and Doc Brown's DeLorean, the band gave Chuck Berry, cousin of the bandleader Marvin, that new sound he was looking for to create rock n roll. Those squares at Hill Valley High didn't know how lucky they were.



6. Max Rebo Band – 'Return Of The Jedi'
What is Max Rebo? Some kind of weird blue space elephant? A sentient plush toy? Whatever he is, he leads the house band at all Jabba The Hutt's parties like Tattooine's answer to The Funk Brothers. Being able to play the keys that well with fingers that fat is no mean feat. Maybe the constant fear of being dropped in the Rancor's pit helps eradicate bum notes?



5. Stillwater – 'Almost Famous'
Not to be confused with the real-life Southern rockers Stillwater, the Stillwater we're concerned with featured in Cameron Crowe's 'Almost Famous', his semi-autobiographical account of being an aspiring Rolling Stone journalist following around his favourite band. Stillwater themselves are mixture of Lynryd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers and Eagles, among other hairy-arsed '70s rockers, while their songs were written by Heart's Nancy Wilson. How could that not be brilliant?



4. The Be Sharps – 'The Simpsons'
Homer's barbershop quartet featured Principal Skinner, Barney Gumble and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and appeared in the first episode of the show's fifth series. In a story that roughly follows that of The Beatles, the writers even managed to get George Harrison to provide a voice in the episode. Despite his appearance, 'Baby On Board' is still the highlight.



3. Dr Teeth And The Electric Mayhem – 'The Muppet Show'
A brilliant name, songs called 'Don't Blame The Dynamite' and 'Sweet Tooth Jam', Animal on the drums, Zoot on sax and a bassist that looks like Steely Dan's Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter – what more could you possibly want from a band? They've been happy together since 1975 and long may they continue.



2. Spinal Tap – 'This Is Spinal Tap'
Almost all bands, real or fake, owe Spinal Tap a debt of gratitude. You think Lady Gaga's outlandish set designs or Justin Bieber being trapped in his adolescent bubble are original? No, sorry, St Hubbins, Tufnel and Small did it first. Even The Strokes ripped off their debut album sleeve from the Tap.



1. Sex Bob-Omb – 'Scott Pilgrim Vs The World'
Sex Bob-Omb are probably the only band on this countdown that would get a Radar feature, and for that reason, they take the top spot. You'll often see a fake band on screen that seem great until they start playing one of their terrible songs. Not Sex Bob-Omb, who have an arsenal of dirty garage-rock classics like 'Threshold' and 'Launchpad McQuack'. If that wasn't enough, their singer's called Stephen Stills, the band name's a combination of a Super Mario villain and the Sex Pistols, and in Young Neil and Knives Chau, they’ve got two of the coolest super-fans going. They are Sex Bob-Omb, and they're here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.



Where do Svengali's The Prems, described in the film's mocked-up NME feature as "Britain's best band" fit in all this? Decide for yourself - here's their track 'Letter Bomb'.

 
 
 
Comments

Please login to add your comment.

 
Latest Tickets - Booking Now
 
Know Your NME
 

 
Most Read News
Popular This Week
NME Store & Framed Prints
Inside NME.COM
On NME.COM Today