William Bevan, better known by his Burial alias, has a new EP coming out on December 16. Details are at a premium right now though there will be three tracks lasting 28 minutes. Here’s a gallery of other shady types more comfortable with an alter ego or alternate identity, often assuming a mask or makeup for good protective measure.
Supervillain Daniel ‘Doom’ Dumile might have dropped the “MF” but he still feels the need to wear the mask of, er, doom. Wearing a disguise has it’s advantages i.e. you don’t have to trim your eyebrows or even turn up at your own shows (Doom is alleged to have sent imposters to DJ sets in London). Clever.
Marilyn Manson used to be the subject of one of those great myths that takes on a life of its own and nobody knows where it originated from; namely that he was formerly the character Paul Pfeifer from The Wonder Years. Only recently when the real Brian Warner appeared makeup free on Eastbound & Down were those rumours finally put to rest.
WU LYF, or World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation if you’d prefer, created a fair bit of mystery about themselves by wearing neckerchiefs over their faces and not saying much. Hype ensued as they eschewed major labels for a self-produced album, then they appeared to implode before our very eyes. People moved on quickly.
Kiss gave rock & roll to you back in the 70s with probably the most iconic face paint ever in rock. The makeup years drew to a close in 1983 - partly in protest at animal testing - and we were forced to look upon their chemically-cleansed visages for more than a decade, worst luck. Thankfully they saw sense and Kiss: The Makeup Years II coincided with inevitable reformation.
Duality was the debut mixtape from Captain Murphy, and the good capt. should know a thing or two about the concept given that he is in fact the animated rapping alter-ego of Flying Lotus. Scratch the surface and it would seem we’ve all got Batman issues, it’s just that some go public with theirs.
Fever Ray, better known to her mother as Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson, is lead singer of electronic duo The Knife. Andersson has a penchant for theatrical and often creepy makeup that adds to her mystique, and recent shows at the Camden Roundhouse where the band retreated further in favour of a choreographed dance show was the cause of much controversy.
Noisy Iowa local people donned masks and rose to infamy in the 90s, creeping out coulrophobes, swinophobes, and presumably people terrified of men in matching boilersuits. Corey Taylor unmasked and singing heartfelt Pearl Jam covers with an acoustic at Download was definitely the scariest sight of all.
Photos of the real duo and not the robots were published earlier this year and the world shrugged. The helmet wearing Frenchmen had a spectacular 2013 with the hit of the summer and an album - Random Access Memories - that was only outsold by One Direction (who don’t count). Daft Punk: giving celebrity culture the bird since 1999.
There are fewer shadier characters than the Cornishman, Richard James, who lives a life less ordinary in the hinterland of dark dreams and converted bank vaults under the Elephant and Castle roundabout. Always the genius, Aphex Twin doesn’t hide his face but uses his own image for subterfuge, supplanting, subverting and scaring the bejesus out of us.
School’s Out in the 1970s, ‘Poison’ in the 1980s, Wayne’s World in the 1990s and still a rock icon in the 21st century five decades into his career, Alice Cooper proves that a little slap can go a long way.
Kids can be so cruel. EDM producer Joel Zimmerman first picked up his pseudonym when a mouse crawled into his computer and died, though the teenager turned the teasing on its head and the adult turned the moniker into a multimillion dollar industry. Just don’t wear those ears into Disneyland if you don’t want to get shot by a maverick Mickey-gone-rogue.
Being four lads from Liverpool carries its own cache, but if you make music as wildly off kilter as Clinic then you need to do something different. The seminal neo-psychedelia weirdos clearly heard the lyrics to TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ and decided to disobey, while looking for something in keeping with their otherwise rather sterile name.
The Eurovision Song Contest has thrown up its fair share of surprises over the years, and Lordi’s victory in 2006 for Finland and for the oft derided genre of heavy metal was perhaps only comparable with Dana International’s 1998 winner ‘Diva’, for Israel and transexuals everywhere. Both championed the outsider. Both ace.
The bravest and most subversive of all the acts here, Pussy Riot donned balaclavas and performed a guerilla gig in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in protest at the hegemony of Vladimir Putin. Three of their number were jailed and two still remain there. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was recently moved to Siberia away from family after she went on hunger strike.
Buckethead (Guns ‘n’ Roses)
One of the great nearly men of rock ‘n’ roll, Buckethead had the unenviable task of filling the boots of Slash as replacement guitarist in Guns ‘n’ Roses, and a KFC chicken bucket placed on your head with a spooky mask was probably never going to endear you to the public... or Colonel Sanders for that matter.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
If you’ve ever wondered where The Prodigy sampled that “I am the god of hellfire and I bring you…” line from it was “Fire!” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Brown donned facepaint and fire above his noggin and smashed his way to No.1 in the UK in 1968, influencing everyone from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson in the process.
Insane Clown Posse
Not the most glamorous band to ever wear makeup, the ICP do inspire devotion however and have their own following, a group of rabid fans who call themselves the Juggalos. Just one listen to their daft 2009 song ‘Miracles’ makes us wish Dr Brian Cox would follow them and fill them in on some of the rudimentary laws that govern the universe.
Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit)
When Wes Borland stopped playing guitar for Marilyn Manson it was clear that his shock rock boss wasn’t weird or fucked up enough. Thankfully he was soon employed by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, a man who’s leaked sex tape was the second worst video nasty of the mid-00’s (following the hanging of Saddam Hussein).
After the pressures of Pulp, Jarvis Cocker needed light relief, and so he teamed up with the All Seeing I’s Jason Buckle to form Relaxed Muscle, a concept band about a couple of ex-cons - Darren Spooner and Wayne Marsden - with songs about sex, gambling and domestic violence. Cocker’s identity was uncovered after only a couple of shows, but they persevered for a while.
From Bolton in England originally, electronic musician Jam Rostron relocated to Berlin in 2002 and has been making records as Planningtorock since that life-changing move. Her look recalls - among other things - those dreamlike sequences from the movie Pan's Labyrinth, though the modern Spanish cinema classic didn’t hit picture-houses until 2006.
Helge Risa (Kaizers Orchestra)
The Kaizers Orchestra were Norways biggest band and massive in Germany too. Whether their ascent to the top was helped or hindered by their strange, gas mask wearing pianist Helge Risa’s appearance is not known, and given that they split up this summer & you might not be able to speak Norwegian, I envisage sleepless nights ahead if you want to find out.
Paul McCartney (The Firemen and songwriter Bernard Webb)
Macca was no stranger to identity fraud, coming up with the Sgt Pepper’s concept 'n all. He also played anonymously as the FireMen with Youth, and as the songwriter Bernard Webb in the 60’s he tried to prove his songs would be just as popular without the Lennon/McCartney tag. He was rumbled too quickly for the truth to out.