I don’t know how this slipped by me in years past, but apparently my old employer Taco Bell has this annual program called “Feed The Beat” wherein the burrito conglomerate awards “free food and marketing support to America’s up-and-coming rock acts.” What the suits do is pick a load of bands their kids tell them are cool, gives ’em all $500 “Taco Bell Bucks” for use at any TB location (ostensibly to be used while out touring), and features said bands on FeedTheBeat.com. Quoteth Chief Marketing Officer David Ovens (ironic name alert!):
Our Feed the Beat bands have been showcased via our partnerships with MTV and ESPN, as we work hard to highlight their talent and music. Whether helping to extend the spotlight on their nominations for Video Music Awards, getting them to play at the VMAs, or creating live concerts and soundtrack opportunities during the X Games, the work never stops in support of our bands.”
Okay, great. I’m glad the people who gave the world the Crunch Wrap Supreme are supporting independent rock. Browsing through their list of 2009 “Feed The Beat” winners, though, it’s pretty obvious Taco Bell has a different definition of “up-and-coming” than most people. F’r instance, the Bouncing Souls. They’ve been “up-and-coming” for about fifteen years now. If they couldn’t score a spot on the VMAs at the height of “I Like Your Mom’s” popularity (circa ’94), all the gorditas in the world won’t help them now. Same goes for Less Than Jake, who started their journey together as a band in 1992. I was thirteen years old then. I’m thirty now. That’s a sobering fact nary a ska horn can soften.
The mighty Taco Bell is also throwing a bone to the All-American Rejects, despite the fact that band already has an MTV Video Music Award (not to mention a couple platinum albums and general sales that probably rival TB’s yearly profits). Perhaps the Mexican food giant is concerned about the dwindling weight of Rejects singer Tyson Ritter. Ritter’s been looking rather gaunt lately, even for him, so maybe half a grand’s worth of pintos n’ cheese will do him some good. We’d hate to lose another star to malnutrition. The meat at Taco Bell might be Grade F, but the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh and vitamin-enriched.
To be fair, Taco Bell is helping plenty of bands I’ve never heard of with hilarious names that sound like they were made up specifically to scam a fast food company out of $500. Brian Bonz & The Dot Hongs, Dr. Dog, Jet Lag Gemini, Secret Secret Dino Club, Foxy Shazam, Ha Ha Tonka, We All Have Hooks For Hands, Cross Canadan Ragweed…you know, I wish I had known about this program earlier. I totally would have created a fake band for free dog meat and the opportunity to visit the X Games. My band would have been called Combustible Baby Mustache, and we woulda been an Eastern European ghost core revival act. With banjos. Yeah.
I guess I’m a little jealous people out there are getting free Santa Fe chalupas just for being in a band. Hey Taco Bell, how about helping out some of America’s up-and-coming writers? Byron Crawford and I gotta eat, too, son!