No need to lock up your daughters when Denver, Colorado psychedelic metal four-piece Professor Plumb comes around. Midnight Creep is a rumbling, two minute heavy rock celebration of the #metoo movement, eschewing metal's history of chauvinism, self-indulgence and egotism. Rightly characterising sexual predators in positions of power as monstrous creatures from the deep, this new track is accompanied by a video that ridicules Donald Trump, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, among others - creepy men, many from the entertainment industry, and those who defend them.
"Times are changing," says frontman and songwriter Benom Plumb. "There are plenty of contemporary artists across all genres out there that do respect women and treat others with equality and respect. It's a very simple message to the all creepers out there: 'She doesn't want you, man! Move on!'"
Benom Plumb is indeed a real-life assistant professor who teaches Music Industry Studies at The University of Colorado in Denver. After recruiting Velveteers guitarist John Demitro, he looked closer to home for the remaining two members of the band, Alex Bailey (bass) and Ben Hatch (drums), both of whom are former students from his Intro to Music Business, Music Publishing and Finance/Royalties courses.
"They were superb all around academically, personally, professionally and musically," he recalls. "Of course, I didn't really become 'friends' and bandmates with them until after they graduated. I had seen both of them play in other popular Denver projects and was impressed! It's fun to interact with students in a business class, then watch them perform with such skill on stage."
The resulting sound is classic heavy rock in the tradition of Motörhead by Motörhead or Deep Purple's Highway Star, maybe a hint of ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man and White Denim’s Mirrored in Reverse bringing it up to date, with some heavy prog instrumentals thrown in to fill out their debut EP to five tracks.
Actress Alyssa Milano kick-started the #metoo social media movement in October 2017 to raise awareness of how commonplace sexual harassment had become for women in their day to day lives. But Midnight Creep wasn't inspired by the sickening procession of men of power exposed by the media since then. Instead, it was a personal reaction to the songwriter's friendship with a former bandmate.
"The igniting moment that burned the friendship down," says Benom, "was me confronting this person, my friend and bandmate, about their treatment of women and self-destructive lifestyle. I got to thinking about that situation and the public outcry happening around the world with MeToo and it inspired me to contribute my voice to the conversation."
It's encouraging to observe that men born into a conservative environment are not doomed to blindly adopt the attitudes they see around them. Although sometimes they might need to uproot themselves to truly move on.
"I grew up in East Texas," says Benom. "Very conservative, Republican and, to be honest, pretty racist. I grew up hearing the 'n word' from whites and blacks all my life growing up. When I go back to visit family, there are Trump MAGA signs in many a front yard and cow pasture. I now live in Denver and as you may have seen, Colorado is, for the most part, more progressive. We were the first state to legalize cannabis and just elected the nation's first openly gay Governor."
Benom remarks that being a tutor to more than 100 students "is a precious burden to bear" and considers it his duty to them to set a good example, as a rock musician with a conscience.
"If rock is dead anyway (right?), why not have a reset?" he continues. "Why not be honest and say, 'Yeah, so the old rockers made some great music but many of them were simply terrible human beings.' An unfortunate by-product of an industry with a very high ratio of people with narcissistic and borderline personality traits. So, I don't care if you wrote some hits...you're still an asshole!"
But this begs the question, if an artist whose music you have enjoyed turns out to be racist or misogynist, can you or should you continue to listen to their music? Does their music exist separately to their actions or is that just a convenient argument to allow us to have our cake and eat it?
"I don't know about 'should listen' but I think it's possible to separate the music from the person," ponders Benom. "For example, I hated Lemmy's Nazi memorabilia obsession and his misogynist lyrics like 'I like a little innocent bitch...' in The Chase is Better Than the Catch. Even still, I won't lie, I loveMotörhead's music. They were a great hard rock band, musically, anyway you slice it. That doesn't mean I approve of the behavior of those in the band. On the other hand, there are bands I found so distasteful and disgusting, like Guns N' Roses' Rocket Girl, that I did stop listening to that band."
Music to Fight Evil
Benom Plumb suggests five songs that have inspired him politically or moved public awareness forward on issues like racial and gender equality.
1. Ghetto by P.O.D.
2. Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine
3. Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2
4. Politicians by Switchfoot
5. Five to One by The Doors (“We play this in our live set. One of my favorite lyrics is: ‘...they got the guns, but we got the numbers’.")
Learn More About Professor Plumb Here:
About the curator: Jon Ewing
After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which he has attended every year since 1992.