As I finished the final episode of Stranger Things, a strange obsession gripped me, tighter and stronger than the embrace of a beastly Demogorgon from the Upside-Down. I have to know everything about this show, I thought, feverishly hitting follow on the Instagram accounts of every single actor on the program.
In my Google k-hole, I then unearthed this gem from an Interview profile with Charlie Heaton, who plays the very hot and slightly disturbed photography nerd Jonathan Byers: "Just a few years ago, Heaton was the drummer for the UK noise-rock band Comanechi, which took him on a world tour."
Heaton is not the only attractively brooding actor on Stranger Things to front a terrible indie band. His square-jawed high school nemesis Steve, played by Joe Keery, is also in an indie rock group. You see, for every Childish Gambino, there is also a Comanechi—the dark parallel universe of objectively terrible late 2000s indie punk to Donald Glover's successful if deeply hateable rap project.
For every TV heartthrob you want to fuck, there exists an indie band that should have never seen the light of day. Put it this way: For every single shot of Chuck Bass looking smoking hot in Gossip Girl, London had to suffer through Ed Westwick putting on a fake Cockney accent in his post-Razorlight band. Or, like the children in Stranger Things discover—the Upside Down exists, and it is whenever actors start thinking they can also front bands.
Boardwalk Empire, Michael Pitt – Pagoda
Some people say Michael Pitt is a little too serial killer-ish to find attractive, but those people have never seen Boardwalk Empire-era Pitt playing five finger fillet in a three piece suit. Back when Pitt was 21 and working on his Kurt Cobain impression for Gus Van Sant's sort-of biopic Last Days, he started a band called Pagoda. Now, don't get me wrong. I like Nirvana. I like grunge. I have a certain fondness for an Eddie Vedder screech. But if we're going to talk about terrible indie bands, you do not get more terrible than this.
Pagoda split up in 2011, after their second album failed to materialize.
Salem, Shane West – Johnny Was
If you haven't been watching Salem, imagine everything about the real Salem witch trials—the paranoia and social injustice involved in accusing your neighbor of dealings with the Devil—and just replace it with Shane West in a leather jerkin screaming about how witches are real. West's musical credentials predate his jerkin-wearing career—in high school, he started Johnny Was, which I can only describe as being like Brand New, that alt-emo band your school crush put on a mix CD for you, but worse.
Stranger Things, Charlie Heaton – Comanechi
Gather around, children, while I tell you the tale of late 2000s to early 2010s London. In this magical wonderland where people still bought NME and Frank Ocean was just a glint in Odd Future's eye, indie bands bloomed and died quicker than the weird jungle creepers in Stranger Things. Comanechi, in which Heaton was a drummer, made a good go of it for several years, but even they succumbed eventually to the emerging consensus that literally nobody wants to listen to guitar bands anymore.
X-Files, David Duchovny – Solo project
The great thing about X-Files is that if you didn't fancy Gillian Anderson, you probably fancied David Duchovny. As someone who fancied them both, I am therefore less upset that David Duchovny's solo career is still going, and that, for some reason, he is performing at the Google Campus with his band. Performing for the minions of an evil, all-seeing tech company? What would Mulder say?
Entourage, Adrien Grenier – The Honey Brothers, Kid Friendly
I have to admit: I never watched TV series or the movie Entourage. On the scale of male bonding programming, I prefer my shows to fall somewhere between True Detective and Looking—it has to involve hot guys either solving supernatural crime or fucking each other. As far as I understand, Adrien Grenier is the requisite "hot guy" in Entourage, which means he obviously has a terrible band—and not just one band, but two. Here he is, playing drums in the so-twee-it-hurts Honey Brothers. All that remains of his first band, Kid Friendly, is a dead MySpace page with an illustrated profile picture of two birds pecking each other to death.
Gossip Girl, Ed Westwick – The Filthy Youth
People who watched Gossip Girl might actually recognize the strained, faux-Libertines indie rock sound of the Filthy Youth—the show used music from the real-life band of pocket square-loving anti-hero Chuck Bass, Ed Westwick.
Unlike Kid Friendly, evidence of The Filthy Youth's existence is still alive and well on YouTube. So if you'd like to check out an earlier, more innocent time when bands could get away with titling songs "Come Flash All You Ladies" and putting on Mockney accents, be my guest.
Stranger Things, Joe Keery – Post Animal
I feel bad for sticking Joe Keery, who plays meathead jock Steve, in this article. If Instagram evidence holds true, he was a member of this band way before he got a TV agent who could have probably told him taking this photo was a bad idea. Of all the hot actors in bands, Post Animal is the one most likely to end up on Stranger Things, because it already sounds like a Chicago psych-pop bro's take on Tangerine Dream. I will just never forgive Steve Harrington for breaking Jonathan's camera.