By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
Bldg 5 is not the most serious band in the world. If you spend any time at all with this funky hard-rock quartet, you'll find that practically every topic--from the group's recent road mishaps in snowy Colorado to its contempt for conservative state authorities to its collective appreciation for the sacred herb--is fodder for a few laughs.
But when front man Kevin Dye discusses the upcoming benefit show his band organized to combat domestic violence, his tone changes. Dye seems constitutionally incapable of letting anything get him down for long, but it's clear that one recent event took its toll.
"I had a major deal that started this," he says. "My ex-girlfriend, Nina Albright--we had a son together named Jonathan, and we kept up really good contact--was fucking beat to death, basically, on March 9 in Georgia. Blunt force trauma to the head.
"It was like a crazy thing for all of us. She was totally beat to the head; it wasn't like a car crash or just a death."
Albright's convicted killer was her boyfriend at the time. "He seemed like a nice guy," Dye says. "I met the guy, and now I look back and think, 'Fuck, we should have killed him.' But what do you do? So that's how I sleep at night, knowing that we're trying to do something."
Dye says that for at least a month after Albright's death, he didn't want to do anything. He quit his construction job, and found himself uninterested in creating music. He credits his bandmates with showing patience, until he was ready to play again. When Dye decided to put together a series of benefit shows, he literally thumbed through the phone book and randomly found Autumn House, which provides shelters for domestic-violence victims.
He describes himself as someone who "can't let something go by," who has to respond whenever anything peeves him. That tendency can take the form of something as profound as the Autumn House benefit or as frivolous as the band's new tune, "Traffic," which takes on former Edge DJ Greg Paul for trashing the band's debut CD, Foundation. The song's title mocks Paul's current gig, doing traffic reports on AM radio.
The band's mind-altering tendencies ("We smoke weed, but we're always worried about being classified as a weed band," Dye says) earn a tribute with the song "LT," for the crack-pipe-resembling bong that the band named after former New York Giants star--and repeat drug offender--Lawrence Taylor.
The band's steady gigging over the last year, as well as the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jason Dell since Foundation was recorded, has the members convinced that their second CD will display considerable growth. They enter Mind's Eye Digital on January 23 to begin the project with Larry Elyea.
"We took these songs on the road a couple of times," Dye says. "We play them all the time. The songs are a lot different. Some are heavier, some are more angry, some are funnier in a way."
"It's our style, just more defined," responds bassist David Cortright.
The band's music is defined by radical rhythmic shifts--from funk to jazz to metal to ska--that would tax even the most versatile players. It's an approach that can take some getting used to, but Dye says it's always felt natural to him.
"Isn't that how it is in your life?" he asks. "You don't wake up and have one rhythm all day. You wake up, and you have that wake-up rhythm; next thing you know, you're at work and you're hearing shit like Korn in your head; and then it's the Grateful Dead 'cause you're on lunch; next thing you know, it's Slayer or Celine Dion. Fuck, who knows? We like to mix it up."
Turn the Page: They're gonna put those Les Payne Product guys in the movies, and all they've gotta do is act naturally.
The showmanship-friendly duo recently hooked up with producer Ryan Page of One Tree Films, who made What Is It? with Crispin Glover. Page and his partner Torry Jestadt have now concocted a film idea around the enigmatic glamour that is the Les Payne Product.
Drummer Chris Pomerenke says he and guitarist James Karnes met Page through mutual friends while the producer--a former Valley resident who attended Horizon High--was visiting Phoenix. "He was really interested in us, and he's done some documentaries, so he was thinking of doing something like that. But we talked and ended up deciding on a story, dealing with some of our obsessions."
The film, whose working title is Illuminati, promises to be a loosely scripted affair about freemasonry, trips to the sun, Hopi prophecies, computer chips, "and all kinds of crazy stuff," according to Pomerenke. "It's about the Phoenix bird rising up from the flames." Rest assured, he's not talking about the Cardinals advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Along such locally oriented lines, Pomerenke and Karnes have lined up roles in the film for many of their friends in the Valley music scene, including Trunk Federation's Jim Andreas, Chula's Yolanda Bejarano, and Vic Masters. Sounds a bit like Slacker goes to AZ, don'cha think?