It’s been a year and a half since Roddy Bottum—keyboardist for alternative metal band Faith No More and pop-punk outfit Imperial Teen—released Sasquatch: The Opera to wide acclaim as part of Brooklyn’s Experiments in Opera. This week, he will debut a new mini-opera, this one about two gay men of different generations who take part in the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride to End AIDS, called The Ride.
The Ride to End AIDS is a seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that has taken place for nearly 25 years. It raises money and awareness for the HIV/AIDS services of L.A.’s LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Speaking to EiO about The Ride, Bottum says: “The older generation of gay men who dealt with AIDS as a life threatening disease and were in the trenches for the first generation of the disease helped their friends get through life or death situations. The generation of gay men today who are on PrEP drugs and Truvada don’t really view the disease as life threatening. It’s just a different relationship. And that, to me, is interesting.”
Bottum has participated in The Ride to End AIDS, calling it a life-changing experience.
Inspired by Kraftwerk’s 1983 “Tour de France” track—which Bottum considers “the quintessential bike sound”—the opera’s music utilized flutes, synths and live drums.
“[F]or some reason flutes to me evoke the sort of bicycle spirit … and using flutes and synths together felt super clean so I knew I had to dirty it up a little and add something organic and a little bit rough. Live drums felt like a good rhythm stabilizer to put in there,” he says. “It’s also interesting to me what the brain does when you’re riding a bicycle for a long time. Your brain starts doing weird things. … The music for The Ride is loop-driven, which seems apt especially with subject matter of driving for long periods of time in a straight line.”
The Ride is set to premiere Dec. 15 alongside four other 20-minute operas.