- Int'l Male
- Brand development
The tools of corporate marketing, détourned.
For the past seven to ten years, Portland, Oregon has been the Canterbury of earnest, literate indie rock. You can’t walk down the street without bumping into some strummer mumbling heartfelt lyrics about love, loss and the old ennui from behind his beard. That can be a tough market for a clean-shaven, sharp-suited disco/cabaret act (borrowing equally from Bobby Darin, Barry White and Van Halen) to make a living in.
Int’l Male was one such act. Its very name was swiped from the men’s adventurewear catalogue. Its repertoire was a garland of original numbers built around the parodic amorous exploits of Savalas-esque 6′6″ frontman “Moose” E. Lee, AM radio chestnuts (the Commodores’ “Easy”; Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” complete with outro coos and squeals from singer Angela Darrow, who once exhorted Mr. Lee to take out the garbage in breathy French), and the odd re-arrangement (a jump-blues reading of Van Halen’s “I’m the One”), all executed in a seamless, Vegas-style 90-minute set – minus the labored irony one associates with so-called loungecore.
As Int’l Male’s brand stewards, we turned away from the indie-rock world, seeking instead to create a demi-monde: a world of license and glamour open to Int’l Male fans for the price of a cover charge. We never broke character; the comic exploits of Mr. Lee and his entourage, as laid down in the evening’s libretto and in support materials such as the newsletter, edged up to the fantastic, but always contained enough of the quotidian to make them barely plausible. People didn‘t necessarily believe that any of this was true. But they wanted to. Visual materials, as shown below, were executed in as neutral and corporate a tone as possible; if certain of the potential audience didn’t catch the arched eyebrow, it was fine with us. More than enough did.