Bert Kreischer Was Maybe, Almost, Kinda in the Band Creed
Comedian Bert Kreischer has many talents, from prodigious drinking (earning his nickname “The Machine”) to shirtless stand-up to robbing trains with the Russian mob. Like many funny people, Kreischer is also a frustrated musician. But if one or two things would have broken his way, he just might have been the frontman for one of the most hated rock bands of all time.
In his book Life of the Party: Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child, Kreischer tells the tale of his bumbling role in a college band, a failed shot at rock stardom that he let “slip through (his) fingers like cocaine on a roller coaster.” Like many stories of its ilk, Kreischer’s began when his dad bought him an acoustic guitar in seventh grade. With the three-chord magic of “Brown-Eyed Girl” soon in his repertoire, Kreischer became one of those a-holes who strums for moony-eyed girls at parties.
Soon, Kreischer and his guitar found themselves at Florida State University, where Rolling Stone would name the not-yet-famous undergrad the nation’s Top Partier. Maybe that boisterous personality was why two of his fraternity brothers, Ben and John, invited Kreischer to join their new band as its frontman. “In a town like Tallahassee, your partying defines you,” he wrote. “And the idea of being a band’s frontman--standing on a stage in front of thousands of my peers, leading the night in song, downing as many free beers as I could manage--seemed like a dream.” In other words, he said yes.
Kreischer poured himself into the job of Frontman, but not in its more mundane aspects like “memorizing lyrics” or “learning to sing.” Instead, he studied Val Kilmer’s performance in The Doors and videos of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged appearance. That meant installing a keg in the band’s rehearsal space to add a vulnerable, revealing (i.e. drunk) element to his performances. He also invested in his Frontman look--Doc Martens, jeans, sweat-stained T-shirts, and cardigans like Cobain wore on Unplugged.
Rehearsals involved a lot of drinking and letting the band’s real musicians jam. Sometimes, they’d get peeved at Kreischer’s penchant for making up lyrics he didn’t know. The comic would argue that he was putting his own spin on the songs, but his bandmates found his improvised words to be “like Weird Al, but not funny.”
The band took a turn for the better when Ben and John invited another fraternity brother to join the band. The guitar player owned a lot of boss equipment, which automatically qualified him for the job. New guy Mark was an awesome musician, which is normally a good thing unless the rest of the band can’t keep up. The bar had been raised, and the original guys didn’t like the raised expectations of musical competency.
“We had to get Mark out of the band,” Kreischer realized. “He was too good. He made our bandmates realize exactly how much we sucked. Our suckery now shined down on them.”
So the band slowly began breaking up with Mark, not telling him about rehearsals, making up stuff that he’d said so the band would have a reason to be mad at him. Finally, they just told Mark he was out.
Wait, what? Mark couldn’t believe it. “Seriously? I’m the best guy in this fucking band.” Make that the best guy not in the effing band, now dubbed Givin’ Out Spankin’s. The fact that you’ve never heard of them despite their many apostrophes tells you GOS never made the big time. As for Mark? The dejected guitarist had no choice but to start up a new band with a more committed frontman. When Kreischer ran into some of the band members in a grocery store a couple of years later, they were preparing to move to a bigger city to pursue their rockstar dreams.
Kreischer walked away that day and groused to himself out loud: “I doubt anyone will ever hear of that stupid band, Creed.”