Sometimes touring in a successful rock band can be a double-edged sword. Fans shower groups with adoration when they’re onstage, but once they come down, the artists alone must endure physical exhaustion, cramped tour-bus quarters and having every minute of their day accounted for.
Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff has felt the blade one too many times, so he wrote a song about it. “Lipstick and Bruises,” the first single from the Orange County pop-punk band’s third album, Atomic (October 16), exposes the darker side of the road.
“’Lipstick and Bruises’ is kind of the way we feel a lot of times when we’re on the road,” explained singer A. Jay Popoff, Jeremy’s brother. “You wake up in the morning and sort of feel like you’re covered in bruises. Mentally and physically, we put ourselves through [a lot] on tour — you feel beat up at times.
“At the same time, we’re doing what we love. You’re playing the show and feeding off the crowd, and you definitely feel the love. That’s where the ’lipstick’ comes from. But you wake up feeling pretty tore up. [It’s an] ’abuse me more, I like it’ kind of thing.”
Another road hazard presents itself in Lit’s video for the song. While the band is performing onstage, an 8-foot-tall robot named Mulletron saunters through the crowd and gives concertgoers notoriously bad ’80s haircuts. Just as he’s about to zap the Popoffs and bandmates Kevin Baldes (bass) and Allen Shellenberger (drums), they beat a hasty retreat to safety — or do they? The clip leaves viewers wondering if this is the last they’ll see of the dreaded Mulletron, and while not giving away any specifics, Jeremy warned that the robotic menace might be back.
“That was a wacky idea,” A. Jay said of the giant, mechanized barber with a retro fashion sense. “It started out with Kevin. We were at a supercross race and there [were] lots of people around with mullets. And [we] just let our imaginations run around like crazy.”
Considering that the group was swallowed whole by a super-sized Pamela Anderson in the video for “Miserable,” off 1999’s A Place in the Sun, imaginations like Lit’s could prove disastrous if they fell into the wrong hands.
“A lot of people sit around when they’re drinking with friends and make up all these crazy ideas,” Jeremy said. “But when you’re a band with enough creative control, it’s dangerous because you can actually implement some of the ideas. So Mulletron was born, and he’s coming to a town near you to bring joy and mullets.”
But what is it about these multi-tiered haircuts that makes them so utterly hilarious, even more so than other outdated styles like the fade, beehive or pompadour?
“It’s just silly that some people feel that they’ve got the business in the front and the party in the back,” A. Jay said of the ’do known to some as the Camaro cut, mudflap, neckwarmer, hockey hair, soccer rocker, Canadian passport or achy breaky bad mistakey (named for country mullet-bearer Billy Ray Cyrus). “You can show up to work and be cool business guy, and then when you want to let loose at night, you let it rock. It’s pretty funny.”
The singer speaks from experience, as he admits to rocking the Missouri compromise back in the day. “I had the Ralph Macchio mullet — feathered on the sides and kind of long. I had that going on in junior high.”