Rancid's Tim Armstrong is launching a new musical theater series for the web, Tim Timebomb's RockNRoll Theater. This exclusive preview is for the debut episode, "Dante," featuring AFI's Davey Havok and Armstrong's Rancid band mate, Lars Frederiksen. The show premieres October 21st on VEVO and will be the first scripted show on the popular channel.
A cross between Rocky Horror Picture Show and anthology TV series like Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, RockNRoll Theater will feature half-hour episodes with Armstrong serving as the narrator a la Twilight Zone's Rod Serling.
"I'm in love with the anthology television from the late Fifties, early Sixties – Twilight Zone, Thriller, Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. All those shows were anthology shows that would have a different story every week. But they all had one narrator, one personality that hosted it and that's kind of my job on the RockNRoll Theater," Armstrong tells Rolling Stone. I would be the host every episode. I open up and do the ending, I narrate the episode, and I do like a closing monologue."
As Armstrong points out, the hosts of all those series brought additional skills to the table, whether it was legendary director Alfred Hitchock directing on his own show, Serling writing for Twilight Zone, or actor Boris Karloff, who was the host on Armstrong's personal favorite, Thriller. On RockNRoll Theater Armstrong will be doing what he does best: "I'll be the muso," he says.
Thus far, he and his friends have written 50 new songs for the first 12 episodes. "Together we had this fucking party, it's crazy. We didn't have to try too hard, it all fell together," he says. "I wrote the music and recorded the music [for 'Dante'], all five songs, in five days. It was a fun idea and we just fucking charged."
Armstrong's friends were quick to embrace the concept as well. "When I asked Davey Havok I couldn't even get my pitch out. I was like 10 seconds into my pitch and he was on board. The first thing we did was a short with Jack Grisham from TSOL, he was on board in like 10 seconds," Armstrong says. "Singers love to do dialogue. There's a scene, Davey is the devil and Lars plays this bad guy, the antagonist, they loved it."
With so many actors wanting to be singers, singers wanting to be actors and Armstrong's monster rolodex, the list of possible participants in future episodes seems endless. But right now, the show is in its infancy, with only two episodes done, so Armstrong's not sure what other big-name guests might be involved. There are also other questions to resolve, like where the music might be heard beyond the series. "People aren't buying as many records as they used to, so you gotta figure out other ways to get music out there. And I'm open to any idea that can help get the music out there, definitely."