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Track-by-Track: John Zdrojeski’s Album ‘Misters’ Confronts Toxic Masculinity

John Zdrojeski (aka Virgil Wilde) shares a track-by-track overview of his debut album ‘Misters’ which explores the stifling effects of toxic white masculinity.



John Zdrojeski as Virgil Wilde

John Zdrojeski released his debut album Misters and promoted it as his alter-ego: Virgil Wilde. In the vein of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Virgil is a character from the album, which explores the stifling effects of toxic white masculinity… But what could be the diegesis behind the album? Zdrojeski gleefully shared it with us. Read on!

Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Misters deals with “Jack,” a man struggling to “sing his song” in the midst of an aggressive, disjointed choir. With a squeal of guitar feedback, a ravaged, rock star channeler named “Virgil Wilde” appears to Jack. Virgil morphs into each member of the choir, known as “The Misters,” hoping to dull their power over Jack’s song by doing so. But periodically, Jack is overtaken by the Devil You Know: a polished, mirror image of Virgil, who uses every tactic he can to get Jack to abandon his own unique song. Not shying away from a difficult topic, Zdrojeski hopes Misters would contribute to the dialogue about the ill effects of the patriarchy not only on society but on men themselves.

Sonically weaving through prog rock, country rock, alternative, glam rock, and classic heavy metal among other different sub-genres, Misters pays homage to rock ‘n’ roll, exploring Zdrojeski’s love of the music while tackling the controversial topics. The epic begins with “In The Weeds” as our protagonist, Jack, is surrounded on all sides by the toxic voices of the Misters. Following that, Virgil introduces himself in the ’70s-inspired, riff-tastic thunderbolt invocation, “O Rock N’ Roll.”

And finally, the third and final voice – our antagonist – reveals himself in the guise of moody, mysterious industrial rock in “Devil You Know I.” As the album continues, each “Mister” Virgil channel embodies a different trope: male hypocrisy, male apathy, and performative machismo, with more unconventional themes and archetypes popping up along the way. Overall, Misters is a rock ‘n’ roll epic, promising to be a rollicking action movie-musical of the mind.

1. “In The Weeds”

“The Misters are just a wall of noise if you don’t know how to exorcise them. Your song will just get drowned out by it, as Jack’s is here.”

2. “O Rock ‘N’ Roll”

“My ‘Our Father,’ my ‘Hail Mary,’ — my invocation to the divine to give me the strength to channel the Misters through song and exorcise them from Jack’s consciousness. It’s sung in the only language I know that can cut through their noise: hum-bucking, classic riff rock.”

3. “Devil You Know I”

“My equal and opposite, and competitor for airtime in Jack’s consciousness. Guess he was going for an industrial thing here? I’m not a fan, so you’d have to ask him.”

4. “Brad’s Drunk Interview”

“Brad tends to communicate in drunken diatribes—he’s always angry about people being angry. And he manifests in sloppy sleazy glam rock.”

5. “Daryl, Elea’s Ex”

“Daryl never stops talking about this woman named Elea, and he’s from the American South—I feel like he loves the Eagles which is why he has to be purged with country rock.”

6. “Fragile”

“This Mister is Chip. Chip sucks. Brittle machismo personified. This is super annoying ’cause when I’m possessed by him, his song has a riff that’s just undeniably heavy.”

Cover art for the album 'Misters' by John Zdrojeski as Virgil Wilde

Cover art for the album ‘Misters’ by John Zdrojeski as Virgil Wilde

7. “Devil You Know II”

“Again, not my song. I think my competitor got jealous of how successful I am in letting Rock ‘N’ Roll flow through me. So he tried to do some Zeppelin IV/Pink Floyd thing? Sad, honestly. Anyway, Jack wasn’t fooled, so he came back.”

8. “Candy”

“This Mister’s name is Mark. Mark wants you to forget your troubles and give him all your attention. How better to do that than coming through me in a song designed for a convertible ride down a highway? I mean, I’ve never been on a highway, until recently I only existed in Jack’s mind. But I’ve seen a bunch of hair metal music videos, and Mark’s song seems to fit that mold.”

9. “Snake Oil Strongman”

“This Mister is named United States Senator Josh Hawley. He’s a fearmonger selling lies that comfort the confused with an arena rock stomp.”

10. “unnamed”

“Yeah, this Mister doesn’t have a name—he’s just sad and desperate and angry and he speaks through me in indie rock about his grievances.”

11. “Devil You Know III”

“If I had to guess, I think Jack got scared here and fell back on the Devil [He] Knows. I was worried Jack wasn’t gonna let me finish. But I think the cynical braggy circus rock vibe of this one was enough to get him to come back.”

12. “Spoon-Fed Jack”

“When I cut through the Misters’ noise, I can channel the man himself. Jack’s having a baby girl, and he’s worried about the world he’s bringing her into, and how he and the Misters—those inside his mind and outside his mind — might make it hard for her. I think that’s why he needed me: to make the unconscious conscious, in a language he loves and understands: rock ‘n’ roll.”

13. “Battle of the Bands . . . in the Rain”

“Every action movie ends with a fight in the rain. If you were to see me— I’m a little unconventional looking, I’ll admit. But I love the weird, I love the unconventional. My counterpart? He doesn’t. And so we needed to have it out. And he fired his best shot, but I went full Springsteen. Nobody beats a full Springsteen.”

14. “Looking Up and Out”

“I wasn’t there for this, but when I listen to it, it reminds me of this: ‘I beheld through a round aperture.
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;
Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars’.”