The golden age of glam challenged social and sexual norms with provocative rockers and a catchy tune or two. It took pioneers like Marc Bolan and David Bowie to give the riffs and theatre some substance. The resurgence of glam in the new millennium has seen bands like The Ark pair the stylistics with deeply personal lyrics, while across the pond hair metal is still alive and well. For fans of anime and glam (there’s more of us out there then you’d think) your new favourite band comes straight out of Nashville – Lipstick.
Made up of mascot Mr Cool; singer-songwriter Greg Troyan; bassist, lyrics and backups from Stephen Smith and completed by lead guitarist Casey Horn, Lipstick borrow from the best having travelled through time and space, discovering a universe severely in need of glam circa the 21st century. In more terrestrial terms, theirs is a fusion of musical styles held together by a childhood love of anime. Imagine Kiss or Twisted Sister touring the Sunset Strip with Ginger and the Wildhearts opening every night and you’re about there.
Hollywood’s Ghost in the Shell shows the mainstream is forever flirting with anime. Rather than a cash-in or gimmick, Lipstick wear their love of anime like a feather boa or technicoloured coat – proud and fabulous. Need proof? Well, there’s a cover of Dragon Ball Z’s first opening, the infectious ‘Cha-La Head-Cha-La’ which more than holds up as a glam number. Elsewhere there’s ‘Girl Dressed as Sailor Moon’, a sweet anime ballad where a boy’s first convention becomes a tumultuous love story. Props to the rhyming couplet “It was my first anime con/ And I was dressed like Ash from Pokémon”. ‘Rock N Roll Anime Girls’ is a fun throwback, coming out as if Nikki Sixx had plumped for Gundam over Jack Daniels.
Then there’s ‘Fake Nerd Girl’, an pop punk anthem waving the flag for geek girls the world over with some clever lyrics – “Sorry you have ovaries/ They will define your identity” and “Please don’t friendzone me/ For my blatant misogyny”. In a similar vein, the penultimate track ‘Lipstick Encourages You to Have Fun at Our Shows but Not at the Expense of Other Concert Goers’ is a dig at mosh pit machismo, and how for every man in make-up, there’s another who’ll knock his block off. As someone who went to school in mascara and eyeliner, I know the feeling.
While anime abounds, Lipstick aren’t as stubbornly dedicated as, say, a Star Trek punk band (they exist), and appeal as much to the pub rock circuit as us otaku. So a track like ‘You Can’t Stop the Rock’ is much a fist-pumping love letter to rock as anything AC/DC can lay claim to. ‘Electric Pussycat’ – featuring Ellie the Electric Pussycat – is something else entirely. Wired into the band’s trippy space/time concept, the track plays out like a thematic riposte to The Flaming Lips’ ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1’. While sporting the obligatory Christmas ditty, ‘Christmastime Machine’ is a practically a self-contained rock opera in its own right, blowing Wizzard, Cliff Richard and Shaky right out of the water.