Industrial Hazard

After a year of delays, N17 prepares to defy everything with a much anticipated new album

You can hear the excitement in the voice of N17 front man, Trevor Askew, when he talks about the August 31 release of the group's long-awaited second record, Defy Everything. For the industrial rockers, the date is certain to be the peak of a five-month whirlwind of activity and planning.

N17 spent much of the late spring and early summer holed up at Village Studios in Tornillo, Texas, recording the album with longtime producer Neil Kernon. Now, the group is in the midst of planning for the disc's release, a series of local performances and a national tour. Fortunately, Askew has had a lot of time to think about all of this. Originally, N17 was to have put out Defy Everything a year ago. But with the group's label, Slipdisc, being part of the massive Polygram-Universal merger, everything, including the band's career, was put on hold.

While most bands would wince at such corporate misfortune, N17 is actually thankful for the opportunity that the added wait gave them. "Last year we didn't have the material to go in and put out Defy Everything. We had enough songs, but we didn't have the material," recalls Askew. "Our producer came down and listened to what we had and said, 'You guys aren't ready. Use this time to write a much better album.'"

Askew says the group took the advice to heart and used the extra time to hone their songs onstage. "We've taken out the Ginsu knife and carved off the fat," says Askew. "There's a lot of songs that we've been playing out for a while that we decided just didn't cut it. They didn't match up to the majority of the material we had ready for the studio."

Askew is convinced that the additional time preparing the material was well spent, at least judging by Kernon's reaction. "When we went into the studio there was never one day when I didn't see that guy enjoy every minute of his job. He knew the material was quality, and he believed in it right away."

The delay also provided N17 an unexpected benefit as the past year has seen the commercial explosion of music with a decidedly heavy bent. "Look back one year and see how much further things have come. A year ago, Korn was just barely starting to get seen, and Limp Bizkit was nothing," says Askew. "Nowadays, it's the biggest thing on earth. I'm happy about that. We are totally different, but we offer just as intense an experience."

An extensive club tour in support of the record is part of the group's immediate plans. However, Askew says there's a chance the band may forego the dates if they can latch onto a bigger tour. One such opportunity will present itself locally, as the band has been tapped to open Ministry's show at the Celebrity Theatre later this month. It's an ironic situation for N17, who long have tried to eschew comparisons between themselves and the industrial-dance pioneers. "There's been such a heavy comparison between us for so many years that the show will give people a chance to see how minimal the similarities really are," says Askew.

Working with Chicago-based Slipdisc has proven to be a dream come true for the group. The label's inherent understanding of the industrial/heavy market and its faith in its artist's vision have been a blessing for the very hands-on members of N17.

"We have it better than most bands on major labels because we're able to dictate how we want to work the record -- what magazines to promote it in and things like that. They look to us for all of that," says Askew. "It's good to know that you're playing a part in your own development and success."

N17 will be performing on Wednesday, August 25, at the Celebrity Theatre; with Ministry and L7. Showtime is 8 p.m. N17 will also perform at a CD-release party for their new album on Friday, September 10, at Boston's in Tempe.

Tell Yer Momma: After more than a year of writing and recording, the much anticipated debut from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers is finally ready. Group front man, Roger Clyne, recently returned from Los Angeles where he's been working with engineer Mark DiSisto (John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge) to remix a pair of tracks for the forthcoming album. Clyne says he was pleased with DiSisto's remixes of "Easy" and "Beautiful Disaster," although only the latter will appear on the final version of the record. The as-yet-untitled project is scheduled for an early October release and will include the band's first studio effort, plus a live disc that will be sold as part of a specially priced package (for the first pressing only). The live album includes some new material and several covers as well as a pair of songs from Clyne's Refreshments catalogue. The two-disc set will be available at most local record retailers and on the group's official Web site (www.popenema.com). Clyne says plans are also in the works for an October CD-release party to be followed by a national tour.

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