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Driven to rock
You can call Powerman 5000 a nü-metal band, but the frontman of the group says it wouldn't be an accurate description.
While Spider expects the references to his older brother, he can also understand how the band wound up with the tag in the first place.
"We put a lot of bells and whistles on earlier music," he said in a telephone interview from Tacoma, Wash. "But now our sound is stripped down. I was a straight-up punk kid -- liked the Ramones. But when we first came out, we were not representing any of that. We were put in (the nü-metal) category with other bands at that time, groups that we had nothing in common with."
Misconceptions aside, Powerman 5000 nowadays just wants to rock. Or at least Spider does. Most of the songs are written and half of the tracks completed for an upcoming album which he describes as having a raw, rock 'n' roll sound -- at least at this point. But then again, he's been known to pull out the release of an album because he was dissatisfied with the direction, overriding the opinions of his then-bandmates (and losing two of them in the process).
"A lot of music today is straight-up overproduced," said Spider. "The old stuff is what I like: the Clash, the Sex Pistols. You discover artists at a certain age. Those bands take me back to the reasons why I went into music in the first place. They opened my eyes to different ways of thinking."
SPIDER SAID the fans who have stuck with the group through thick-and-thin "have come to expect change." And said fans can expect the rock 'n' roll sound of Powerman 5000 to carry over into their shows when they stop off in Hawaii for two nights this weekend.
Compared to an earlier Hawaii gig in 2000, a Powerman 5000 concert these days is less about stage flash and more about sound. While their newest record won't be released until the fall, their most recent 2004 release "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Vol. 1: Rare & Previously Unreleased '91-'96" will have to tide the fans over for now.
As for there moving in a more rock direction, it's a continuation from their last release "Transform," which was the final album with the now defunct DreamWorks label.
"The kids seem to dig it," he said of the new material that's been tested on tour. "(But) we've thrown them some curve balls."
He's referring to the aforementioned aborted project "Anyone for Doomsday?," which Spider pulled after feeling the record sounded too commercial. While fans can find songs from that project on the Internet, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" does not contain much material from that period, settling instead for material from the band's earliest years, which Spider had stored in his garage. "It's stuff that hasn't been released before or for people who care," he said.
As for the upcoming album, Spider says he's happy with the material so far.
"When we were just starting out with 'Anyone for Doomsday?,' we were coming off a successful record, 'Tonight the Stars Revolt' (with its hit 'When Worlds Collide'). When I pulled it, fans misunderstood. It wasn't a bad record. But it wasn't overly creative. It was playing it safe and retracing the steps. ... At the end of the day, it was the right move."
He added: "I'm making the album on my own and then deciding if I'm shopping it to indie (labels) or what. I'm pleasantly surprised (by the new material). I like it but, then, I zapped the whole thing before."
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