From the Beatles’ mop-tops to Wayne Coyne’s hobo-business-casual chic, fashion has wormed its way into popular culture through the powerful hand (or hairstyle) of musicians throughout rock ’n’ roll history. While some trends have proven more memorable than the music (remember Hammer pants?), many artists have embraced both worlds, balancing style and sound with a similar savvy. Joshua Vaught, frontman and guitarist for indie-rock act The Rouge, and Kamtin Mohager, the man behind the electro-club sounds of The Chain Gang Of 1974, are two such local examples. Both groups will be playing out this weekend, though not on the same bill: Chain Gang headlines Friday, Jan. 29, at the Bluebird Theater—a build-up to several releases due in the next few months, including a full-length debut Mad Paranoid in March—and The Rouge appears Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs—still playing behind its most recent release, Heat & Light. But before any of that, the two dished with The A.V. Club on the substance of style. (And, incidentally, both had very similar things to say.)
The visual inspiration
Joshua Vaught: What’s big for me is simplicity: sleek, solid-color T-shirts. Men look handsome in simple designs. I’m a big fan of Brad Pitt. You want to be a man? Watch Legends Of The Fall and watch him in the day-to-day. He wears T-shirts, simple coats, and sometimes the slightest hint of a small pattern or design. He’s worn the same beat-up boots forever. But everything is retro now; clothes are made to look beat up. That is very rock ’n’ roll to me, a little dirty and not clean cut. That’s a little of what [The Rouge] try to portray. I don’t know if people can smell us, but we don’t shower super-regularly. [Laughs.]
Kamtin Mohager: MGMT is a band whose style I love—just T-shirts, jeans, and boots. You can tell when a band is being authentic or when there’s someone in an office telling them to dress a certain way. I’m obsessed with looking at photos of Fleetwood Mac. There is just something about them—we’re doing what we want to do, this is it, take it for what it is. I also love the way Tears For Fears dressed in cardigans. It was natural. If it wasn’t for a band like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I may not have wanted to wear all black with a leather jacket. But at the same time, that style is just a T-shirt, jeans, a jacket, and shoes. It speaks for itself and represents the music.
The one thing you can’t live without
JV: I have an old standard white deep V-neck T-shirt. I love this article of clothing because you can layer it and it matches with everything; it’s a universal piece you can wear alone, or under a sweater in the winter. It’s got holes in it, and it’s the most comfortable thing I own. Every girlfriend I’ve ever had steals it to wear to bed. I tell them, look, that shirt is more valuable than you are, so I want you to be careful with it. [Laughs.] You can sleep in it, but no rolling around. Pretend you’re in a coffin.
KM: I have these black zip-up Beatle boots from New York that I wear every day. They are absolutely destroyed, but I can’t live without them. I also have a necklace my girlfriend made for me for my birthday that I wear every day.
Worst trend ever?
JV: Alexander McQueen’s fall 2009 [sport] line included cargo pants. He had great coats and scarfs—and then cargo pants. They looked like jockey pants. Also, any design that’s pointy and/or or sharp and has a burning skull or eagle on it—horrendous. Affliction, in general, makes me want to throw up a little bit. It’s like Ed Hardy—a façade of being fashionable. Those brands are for people who don’t know how to represent themselves. It’s like you can put on an Affliction T-shirt and go work out for 50 hours a day, and people will think, hey, that guy’s fashionable, he’s a metrosexual, and he can still kick your ass. [Laughs.]
KM: Ed Hardy and Affliction. That bad bro, frat-boy stuff needs to go. Actually, I’m thinking of starting my own clothing line called Ned Lardy. I’m going to make necklaces with cigarettes on them for all of the bros that don’t usually smoke. That way, when they get super wasted and want a cigarette, the necklace will be there. I’m also going to make snakeskin condoms, and T-shirts with images of roofies and strippers on them. Genius.