Sunday, September 13, 2009

Using a bit of that SAPS shine to get famous

For a bunch of goefballs like us, the stars couldn’t have aligned any better.
We were a band with a full-on stoner image, largely because we were full-on stoners. We were the Jedi Rollers, which was a play on the name of old bands like Rolling Stones and Bay City Rollers and also implied that we were the best joint rollers in the entire Friendly City. Also, brand-hijacking was in fashion that time, so it was semi-hip to steal George Lucas’s Star Wars reference as some kind of subversive, anti-consumerist statement against mainstream culture.
So we’re a bunch of bladdy goefballs with a band. We’re also tryna be media savvy. In those days that meant photocopying posters on the work computer and then sticking them up in Parliament Street, there outside Angelo’s. Also, we got our album reviewed in the Herald and someone mentioned us on some website. So if you Googled us, our name came up.
To be honest, we had no wys at all. But I had this idea…
I was checking out a police car the one time, with its stylised sheriff’s badge and the aloe plant on the front. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate subversive culture jam to put a dagga plant on the front of the SA police badge?
Of course! And then we put “Jedi Rollers Rolling Service” instead of SA Police Service! Genius!
If only we could do it. Unfortunately someone would have to know design and scanning and stuff. And you probably get into trouble for scanning police badges…
Steve was a mate of the band, and he was making these stickers that say, “End Marijuana Prohibition” with a big dagga leaf. He tunes maybe I should go speak to the guy at the design house that does it. Maybe he can help draw the idea and at least get close.
So I go by his office, to see if he can help. I’m in his office, waiting to chat, when I glance over the work he’s busy with. There, on his very PC screen: a massive SA Police badge! This guy is doing work for the cops. Making their kitbags or something. He has the police badge on file!
I outline our plan, and the guy agrees to help us out. Soon enough, we are all kitted out in our fresh, new, Jedi Rollers T-shirts with a dagga leaf on a police badge. We put “Groove Police” on the back.
Those T-shirts remain the Rollers’ greatest legacy. I wore mine last night to a poetry thing at the Bassline and ous were blown away. “Killer T-shirt!” they were saying. “Ja,” I replied fondly, “It’s my old band T-shirt from PE”.
And the poets show little interest in hearing the music that the shirts were meant to advertise. They’re fascinated by the irony implicit in the T-shirts themselves. And that’s as it should be, because the band ended in 2003 or so.
So the advertising has outlived the product.
And that’s because, well. In some ways, our T-shirts were better than our music.

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