Seeing the Shrills for the first time can be a daunting experience. It's rare these days that an OC band sees the acquirement of scrapes, bruises and bloody gashes as an everyday bi-product of being on stage. The fact that there's always a chance that every show could end in a meltdown (a fact that inspired their aptly-titled debut full-length, Meltdown) is enough to keep crowd watching after they launch into the string-snapping guitar work of "Coconuts" or "Pink Hotel." Given our innate desire to watch extreme debauchery unfold from the comfort of our living rooms, It's only natural to think, "Damn, I wish someone would give these guys a reality show. I'd watch it." Funny thing is, it almost happened.
Back in September 2011, vocalist/guitarist Dan Simmons got a random call from some producers at Uprising Television Productions, who was looking for a some young, wile bands to partake in a some series called "Ambassadors of Rock." The concept was simple: Follow around a scrappy, unsigned band and document their gigs and dealings with fans, friends, and Internet acquaintances who offer them a roof over their head while they're in town. The production company was working on a pilot episode to deliver to national music channel Fuse as a prospective new show. To this day, Simmons had no idea how they found his band, which had barely been together for more than a year at that point.
"They didn't even tell us what it was gonna be about until they showed up at my house with a bunch of cameras and paperwork and stuff," Simmons says. Still, the opportunity to fuck shit up on camera, get paid and document their live show was too good to pass up. The bulk of the filming included watching them practice for an outdoor generator show in San Clemente gig (not quite a "touring gig" for the band who was based in Mission Viejo) and watching them hang out at a house of some friends in that area who agreed to let them crash there the night of the show.
As you'll see in the footage below, the whole episode turned into a major clusterfuck the minute they band revved up the generator and turned on their amps. After playing approximately one song in the middle of a dark culdesac filled with drunk teenagers, police busted up the party and all hell broke loose.
"All these kids just started scattered everywhere, there was a hardcore underage drinking," "Simmons says. "Someone threw a vodka bottle at a cop car and shattered on a cop car, people were lighting fireworks, it was insane." The camera crew (who were probably feeling really smart for filming this gig) disappeared within seconds. At the end of the mass exodus, guitarists Zack Grimm and Dan Cano ended up being detained by police when they stayed behind to grab their amps and gear and were each given $200 fines for being a part of the ruckus. Thankfully Uprising TV paid the fines for them.
As insane as that was, it was the the footage of the band going back to their friend's crash pad to party after the gig that confirmed that this pilot was never going to air. Mostly because of the band's unwillingness to participate in the usual "reality" aspect of the show that involves re-enacting certain occurrences the cameras didn't catch, reading lines and pretending to party with this obviously embedded cast member who, in addition to being about 20 years older than everyone at the party, is sporting a seriously heinous double mohawk.
"And we were doing all kinds of gross, crazy stuff…some dude was smoking out of a dick-shaped bong on camera, people were whipping their dicks out, it was pretty crude," Simmons says. "But on the upside, a lot of people did think we were famous for like an entire day. We even showed up to KFC with the camera crew."
Surprisingly, the show was never picked up by Fuse TV, the band never got paid for doing it, and Uprising Productions kept them in the dark for about a year until they informed them the show was a bust. On the bright side, they did give them the edited footage to do with it what they pleased. Thank god for us, they put it on YouTube. Watch a clip of the show and tell us if you think this would've been a hit.
If you'd like to catch the Shrills in a non-reality show setting, see them tomorrow at the Observatory opening for Deertick. For details, click here.