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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, July 6, 2000

MCA Records
Blink-182 opened several concerts in Hawaii before
hitting the mainstream with "Dude Ranch" and "Enema
of the State." FénixStarTX may be next in line
for the big time. Both perform Saturday in Waimanalo.

FénixStarTX just having
fun, waiting for its
day in the sun

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Adam Atom warns against taking his band FénixStarTX, or its music, too seriously.

"We're just about having a good time and playing music. We're not about being serious or politics or 'Hey, kids, this is bad or this is good,' " Atom said in a phone call yesterday. The band is on tour until mid-September with a date here this Saturday with Blink-182, Less Than Jake and Unit 101 at the Waimanalo Polo Field.

Blink-182 is the headliner but knowledgeable observers see FénixStarTX as being where Blink was years ago -- always an opener, never the star -- and having similar potential.



Blink-182 with FénixStarTX, Less Than Jake and Unit 101.

Bullet Where: Waimanalo Polo Field
Bullet When: Noon Saturday
Bullet Tickets: $27.50, available at Radio Free Music Center, Tower Records, Hungry Ear Records, Tempo Music, Jelly's, University of Hawaii Campus Center, House of Music, ITT Kaneohe MCBH, Pearl Harbor Bloch Arena, Schofield ITR and Safeway stores
Bullet Call: 526-4400

"We're hearing that we are where Blink was with "Dude Ranch," and that we could take it really far, but we just worry about playing all the shows and doing all the interviews and doing everything on our part that we can do.

"Who knows what's gonna happen? We're hoping (to become as big) but we'll see what happens."

Atom says the group has enough material for a new album but with the "FénixStarTX" debut five years old and only now starting to take off, they're going to keep touring.

Increased visibility has resulted in a couple of bruising encounters with corporate America. The band excised a few choice words and phrases from its self-titled debut album to create a blander version acceptable to censors at Kmart and Wal-mart. The band also dropped its original name, RiverFenix, after getting legal heat from the estate of late actor River Phoenix.

Atom says the original name was a tribute to a favorite actor.

"Keanu Reeves has that band Dogstar and we figured that there's a lot of chicks that go see that band just because Keanu Reeves is in it, but River Phoenix was a better actor and so if River Phoenix had had a band all the chicks would go to see them," Atom said. "That was our name for several years and then when we got bigger they put a cease and desist order on us."

RiverFenix became FénixStarTX in honor of the band's home state of Texas. The quartet -- Atom (bass), Will Powers (vocals/guitar) Dumpster Damon (guitar) and Donnie Vomit (drums) -- is now based in San Diego.

Atom describes the group's musical influences as "everything, from the Smiths to NOFX to classical music to rap to hardcore metal to punk to jazz." Songs articulate the experiences and attitudes of the band's predominately teen audience: the grind of menial labor ("Minimum Wage"), the desire to be cool ("Surf Song"), the embarrassment of being caught in a compromising position by your girlfriend's dad ("G.B.O.H."), and bad relationships ("All My Fault").

"That's why there's a lot of younger kids at our shows and not older kids. There was always old people and older kids at shows like Metallica because they can relate (to serious subjects)."

"Kids can let loose and let go a lot easier than older people. The older people are the ones who get upset about lyrics or whatever. You can get old but still have a great time. It's all in your head. That's what I'm planning to do."

Atom is 21 and the youngest member of the band. Vomit is the oldest, at 26.

Some of FénixStarTX's songs reflect politically incorrect fantasies, but Atom says, "Our lyrics aren't as gnarly (as Eminem) and Interscope is that label that's on the edge. They'll do whatever, and they know that that stuff sells. MCA is more like a cool, relaxed label, but they get away with things too. I wouldn't be surprised if one day we did have a problem with (lyrics).

"Nobody said anything about our name forever and then one person said something and it was all over."

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