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Unless you were couching it this past Sunday and the remote rolled off your chest to unreachable territory while you were stuck on MTV, you probably didn't catch A Good Fight's big break. After beating out nearly 3,000 bands on the user-driven online contest “I want my music on MTV,” the Fayetteville band got just that: A video for its debut single, “The Drama.” The video was played in full during a commercial break a little before 1:30 p.m., near the end of an episode of “Made,” a reality show where teens who seem unlikely to be good at something are coached to overcome their fears and innate weaknesses and do the something. This episode focused on Danielle, whose silliness held her back from becoming a martial artist.
After the episode, MTV threw an online after-party for A Good Life on vMTV.com, a “Second Life-ish” virtual world that I bet you didn't know exists. Each of the group's four members got personalized avatars, who got to “hang out” with other avatars.
Beating out nearly 3,000 other bands in online voting is nothing to yawn at. A Good Fight regularly packs out George's Majestic, and earlier this year, it took home the best band award at the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards. Their music, particularly “The Drama,” smacks of national potential. It's bratty, anthemic pop punk — a sort of emo for grown folks who still like to wear eyeliner.
If A Good Fight continues its ascension, it better get used to this next bit: Bassist Jon Woods, who founded the band in 2003 with his brother Dustin and drummer Sean Merriott, is also state Rep. Jon Woods (R-Springdale), who's distinguished himself in his first session mostly for being a fierce opponent of illegal immigration. I'll say it again: He's a Republican punk-rocker, a contradiction in terms, which he acknowledged, at least tentatively.
“There are a lot of Republicans out there who run for office who aren't necessarily cut from the same mold as someone who'd get involved in a pop-punk band,” Woods, 30, said. “But if you look at the core base of the Republican Party, a lot of them are anti-big government. You look at that and then you look at why punk was started.”
When asked to name Republican rockers beyond Ted Nugent, Woods initially drew a blank, but called back several days later with Johnny Ramone, a godfather of punk who let his conservative views out of the bag when he was in his 50s. (The conservative blog the Arkansas Project joined the fray after an AP story on A Good Fight suggested that MTV was an unlikely spot for a conservative bass player. How could we forget Jessica Simpson, Gene Simmons, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Meatloaf?).
As a punk musician, Woods remains a novelty in the legislature, but he says that's helped him. “Being a representative from Northwest Arkansas who's in a pop-punk band opens up a lot of doors. Instead of just being a Northwest Arkansas Republican representative and having a reputation as being judgmental. A lot of Democrats look at me and go, ‘Wow, that's really awesome. I didn't know a Republican could be that cool.' It's helped me pass legislation and helped me become more effective. It's definitely helped Springdale considerably.”
But Woods seems to get that being a Republican legislator might not be such a boon to his band. “We're not a Republican band by a long shot,” he says. “The guys and I differ on issues.” Lead singer Eddie Love (real name, apparently), who wears twin plug earrings that take up most of his ear lobes, is very liberal, Woods said. He wrote an anti-war song on the band's debut EP, “The City Could Be Ours by Morning,” called “White Flag” with the lyrics, “Stop this please, sit down and protest.”
“If he wants to write about the president or whatever, that's fine,” Woods said. “It's music; it's art. I don't get offended. If I wrote a song, and it differed from his views, we'd play it, too. We're not trying to be in your face politically.”
Big success with the band could put an end to Woods' legislative career. “Evanescence is a great band, and we're really on the same path. We're gunning for the top. I predict we'll get signed. This may or may not be my last session. Years before I even thought about running for the legislature, I was playing music.”
A Good Fight opens for Fayetteville rockers Benjamin Del Shreve on Saturday, Aug. 16, at Sticky Fingerz, 9:30 p.m., $5.
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