"ANDERSON": Melissa Riedel, center left, and Daveeda Smith… (Ali Goldstein / Warner Bros )
Josh Grabelle did what any responsible label head would when he found out one of the artists on his roster at Bullet Tooth Records was pictured naked online. Grabelle warned the young drummer, then sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hunter Moore, the owner of the amateur nudity site, Is Anyone Up? "These are good, wholesome Christian kids," Grabelle said. "[The drummer] was freaked out. I was freaked out. The kid is 19."
Grabelle finally got the photos removed and was prepared to do the same for the two other Bullet Tooth acts that appeared on the site, but to Grabelle's surprise, his artists said don't bother.
One of those bands that declined was Deception of a Ghost. "I think it can only help," said group guitarist Buddy Dameron. His bandmate appears nude on the site, and Dameron said it's been nothing but positive exposure for the act. "People who haven't heard of us have seen that. If you were talking about Taylor Swift, then yes, it would be a problem. But for a rock 'n' roll band? I don't see it being an issue."
Far from being an issue, some artists are viewing Is Anyone Up? as a way to get their bands heard — and seen. The 1-year-old site generates more than 1.6 million unique visitors per month, according to Google Analytics stats provided by its proprietor, and has posted hundreds of nude photos of band members from the middle and lower echelons of hard rock. The photos are often paired with promotional images from Facebook or the band's own websites.
The online museum of indie nakedness is aimed directly at the type of punk and hard rock favored by the Warped Tour. For many of these bands, 15,000 albums sold would be a success, and with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter flooded with unknown artists, a nude photo is instant-awareness.
And it's not just artists who are seeing the site as a valuable source of promotion.
Grabelle, whose independent Bullet Tooth is based in Tinton Falls, N.J., has bought ad space on Is Anyone Up? (as have other small labels like his). "Would I like a site like this to not exist? Yes," he said. "But it does exist, and this is the world we live in. I'm marketing to kids aged 16 to 30, and that's the site they're going to. I know that because I cannot go anywhere — anywhere — without this site being brought up."
Rock publicist Rey Roldan has seen a significant portion of his roster appear on Is Anyone Up? and said "there have been a few times" in which he was able to turn leaked nude photos of an unknown band into a story. Long-term ramifications? They'll worry about those later, if at all.
Any hard rock artists who have ever "sexted" photos of themselves to girlfriends or groupies (sexting is the sending of a lewd message or photograph via a mobile device) could quite easily find themselves featured on the site. The photos are submitted anonymously by users.
The pictures are organized under general categories such as "girls," "guys" and "band." The presentation is crude, and includes pin-up shots as well as full-frontals and strategic close-ups. There's little, if any, editorial, but plenty of room for users to comment, most of it unkind. Example? Followers have referred to those they deem unattractive as "gnargoyles."
Sexting is part of life on the road, according to numerous musicians. "On Warped Tour, when you're in a band and you drink, you show these [photos] to your friends as a joke," said the Millionaires' 22-year-old singer Melissa Marie Green, who's in a band with her sister, Allison. The Huntington Beach electro-pop duo specializes in sexually suggestive lyrics. "When you're in a band, you understand why these pictures are up. To the general public, it might be extreme, but to people in the industry, it's not uncommon."
Green is not nude on Is Anyone Up? but said it's "likely just a matter of time" before someone submits her. "I'm not going to complain about that. Our fans are on this site. This is as big as it can be without being on television, but it's just good for our band. Sex and nudity is becoming a lot more relaxed. In 10 years everyone will be naked."
In the meantime, there are still bands who'd like to avoid Moore and the type of exposure his site generates.
"People I know are afraid that they might have a picture out, and scared of what he will do if he gets hold of it," said Dante Phoenix, the Long Beach-bred guitarist of Picture Me Broken. "Yes, it's exposure, but is it the right exposure?"
"I honestly think a lot of bands are getting a lot more attention than they deserve because of this site," said Joe Letz, a New York-based drummer whose biggest claim to fame beside appearing naked on Is Anyone Up? is working with Tim Sköld of Marilyn Manson.