Short Bus?

While on assignment for the New York Times Magazine in 2002, Chuck Klosterman hung out with a Guns N' Roses tribute band named Paradise City (after one of Guns N' Roses' biggest hits):

"The band is now traveling in two vehicles. Randy/Axl will use his truck to pull the Haulmark trailer that holds their gear; he'll drive, I'll ride shotgun and Paul/Izzy will curl up in the extended cab. A friend of the band -- some dude named Teddy -- will follow in his Ford Mustang, which will also carry Bobby/Slash and Rob/Steven. The pickup box is covered with a topper, so Spike/Duff will lie back there with Punky.

"Trask and Dischner do not know who Punky is.

"At departure time, only 40 percent of the band is not under the influence of some kind of chemical. Twenty minutes into the trip, that percentage will fall to zero. Even before we get on the road, this Punky character looks drunk enough to die; amazingly, he's just getting started. They're all just getting started. It remains to be seen if these guys can sound like Guns N' Roses, but they clearly have the self-destructive thing mastered.

"Our vehicles barrel into the darkness of Kentucky. Spike and Punky are freezing in the box of the pickup, and they try to stay warm by drinking Bud Light. ...

"There was a time when Paradise City had a tour bus, but they lost it last summer. This is not a euphemism; they literally can't find it. It broke down on a trip to Kansas City, and they had to leave it in a Missouri garage to make it to the club on time. Somehow, they lost the business card of the garage and have never been able to find their way back. Dischner tells me this story three times before I realize he's completely serious."

["We drove back through Missouri a bunch of times, we put up a picture on our Web site and we even called the highway patrol," Dischner recalled. "But we lost the bus. And I guess there's some law that states you only have 30 days to find your bus."]

["The modern tribute template was set by groups like Strutter, Hotter Than Hell and Cold Gin, all of which found success in the early 90's by looking, acting and singing like the 1978 version of Kiss. It turned out that people would sooner pay $10 to see four guys pretending to be Kiss than $5 to see four guys playing original songs nobody had ever heard before. There are now hundreds -- probably thousands -- of rock bands who make a living by method acting. There's the Atomic Punks, a Van Halen tribute that celebrates the David Lee Roth era. Planet Earth are L.A.-based Duran Duran clones. Bjorn Again claims to be Australia's finest ABBA tribute. AC/DShe is an all-female AC/DC cover group from San Francisco. There are tributes to groups that weren't that popular to begin with (Badfinger, Thin Lizzy), and there are tributes to bands who are not altogether difficult to see for real (Dave Matthews Band, Creed). And though rock critics deride Stone Temple Pilots and Oasis for ripping off other artists, people pay good money to watch tribute bands rip off Stone Temple Pilots and Oasis."]

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