9 Volt Leads the Charge

Tempe power trio proves that it really is a fine line between clever and stupid

Everywhere on the CD, it's the numeric spelling you see, except the spine, where it's written out. Maybe that's so brain-dead album cataloguers won't feel rushed trying to figure out what letter the name begins with.

Ah, yes, that "stupid" factor again.
With a name in place and having exhausted all possibilities for bassists locally, the guys put an ad in the San Diego Reader, San Diego being a favorite vacation spot of Collins'.

"We tried everyone we fuckin' knew. And I'm friends with what I feel are some of the best bass players around here. They were either not into what we had going or didn't think the record deal was legit or didn't feel they were going to be able to put 100 percent into the band."

From San Diego came Steve Romalio, a Jersey native who lived in Greenwich Village for a while doing session work. Before joining 9 Volt, Romalio was running his nimble fingers up and down the neck for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

Additionally, the band toyed with adding a second guitar player, but none of the auditioners worked out. For the time being, a three-piece just seems easier to manage. "You gotta just get along with two other guys. It means not having another idiot in the band," Mitchell laughs, "another guy who's going to piss you off."

There's a certain sonic slop provided by a second guitar that is a good thing, but you sacrifice the telepathy and purity of three players locking in, which you hear in spades on this recording, the Police/Nirvana-like interplay of tracks "Inside Out" and "3 Sides," with the rhythm guitar switching to lead in midstroke. Mitchell's voice is especially strong, a strange mix of Kurt Cobain, Burton Cummings and whoever that no-name guy in Better Than Ezra was. Certainly there are enough radio-worthy songs like "Monkey" and the pretty "Feeling Around" waiting in the wings when "Stupid" runs its course. The label is keenly watching national radio to start booking tour dates "so we're not playing to the crickets every night," jokes Collins.

That doesn't seem likely as long as "Stupid" keeps getting played on all three hard-rock/alternative stations. Here it comes again, with the DJ waxing ecstatic about 9 Volt "rising from the ash of the Phoenix rock scene."

He's quoting the official Gloritone bio. Now that's just plain stupid.

9 Volt is scheduled to perform on Monday, June 29, at Gibsons in Tempe, with Hum, and Superjesus at 8 p.m.; and on Thursday, July 2, at Mustang Sally's in Tempe at 11 p.m.

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