A Believe-It-or-Not Interview With Imperial Stars

[Mental Notes] Are the 'Traffic Jam' band idiots or marketing geniuses? Or both?

On Oct. 12, Christopher Wright, Paul Arabella (a.k.a. David Paul Hale) and Keith Yackey headed for U.S. Highway 101 and blocked three lanes of traffic at 10:20 a.m. to play one song atop a semi. The lead trio of the Garden Grove-based Imperial Stars played “Traffic Jam 101” for a captive Los Angeles audience—commuters who were stuck in the traffic jam they caused. Soon after the stunt, the California Highway Patrol came to arrest the trio and tow the semi; 24 hours later, the band members were released from jail and celebrated in Hollywood after posting $10,000 bail. In an Oct. 15 interview on Heard Mentality, Imperial Stars revealed they knew exactly what they were getting into: They’ve done the rounds of press interviews and have been offered a reality-TV show, money for a benefit concert and more. Are they idiots for pulling a stunt that got them arrested—or marketing geniuses? Oblivious or not, here are a few of the most ludicrous revelations from the band’s interview.

1.5 million: Number of homeless children the Imperial Stars say they pulled the stunt for.

15: Number of times the band mentioned children (i.e., “homeless children”) in the interview. For example, when I said, “This is an extreme stunt to pull for a cause,” Yackey replied, “Did you say extreme? It was definitely extreme—there’s no question about it—because it’s an extremely big problem and we’re extremely uneducated about it. And you know what? We could’ve done something on the side of the road, we could’ve gotten a permit, raised some pom poms. . . . What’s even more sad is that these kids have left their homes because they’ve been sexually, physically or verbally abused. And that’s extremely sad—I mean, I’m sad to the extreme.”

30,000: Amount of dollars the band said they raised for the same 1.5 homeless children since pulling the stunt. Unfortunately, they don’t know if they’ve sold any copies of their song on iTunes, but Armando Montelongo from the show Flip This House apparently told the band he would donate $30,000 cash for their cause and give them money for a benefit concert.

200,000: Number of hits on YouTube “Traffic Jam 101” has gotten. Arabella says, “YouTube sent us a medal of honor.”

Almost 0: Number of regrets regarding the stunt. Wright says, “We regret the inconvenience; however, we are very passionate about what we do.” Never mind that their instruments and the truck they performed on were impounded. (The band claim to not know the driver, who ran away with the truck’s keys when the police arrived. “We were in the back of the truck.”)

10,000: How many dollars in bail the band paid to get out of jail after being charged with disturbing the peace, resisting or delaying a peace officer, conspiring to commit a crime, and unlawful assembly. California Highway Patrol has said they could also face charges of obstructing traffic.

5: Number of grandiose claims by Imperial Stars. According to Wright, the band have one of Orange County’s biggest recording studios, have appeared on soundtracks that have received platinum and gold records, have toured Australia, and have worked with Madonna. They’ve also reportedly been offered a reality-TV show.

2: Total of bandmates who didn’t want to participate in the stunt. Drummer Kenny Cash and guitarist Alec Bauer didn’t want to be involved. “We understood that, and we respect them,” Wright says. “They’re not really outreach kind of guys; they didn’t really understand the homeless charity. They hadn’t done much. . . . They’re good guys, though.”

lbose@ocweekly.com

This column appeared in print as "By the Numbers."

 

 
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