It isn't every day you get to see a band react to its first piece of national press coverage. Oddly enough, it's in Zia Zine, a free record store magazine and former local institution now assembled in Pennsylvania. After a friend of the band arrives at bass player Anthony Germinaro's house with six issues, it takes 40 seconds for the band's stoked smiles to subside. The first member of Phoenix's Stereotyperider to grumble is Germinaro, whose diminutiveness and mountain man beard make him look like a troll next to his bandmates. Guitarist Shane Addington, the band's self-described worrier, follows, acting like he's eaten a slow-acting jalapeño. His mantras of "uh no" and "dammit dammit dammit" sound like spinal injury.
"Phoenix pop punkers!" he laughs. "All these other local bands are getting compared to amazing bands like Fugazi and we're labeled Phoenix pop punkers'! In think I'd rather be tagged gospel folk' than that."
Singer Mike Upsahl is more upbeat. "We're on the cover; that's cool," he says.
Stereotyperider formed three years ago this month, and the bands marks that anniversary with the October 29 release of its first full-length CD, Same Chords, Same Songs, Same Six Strings. The visceral guitar interplay of Addington and Upsahl and the propulsive rhythm axis of Germinaro and drummer Dave Aiona King make it clear that actual new things are happening with said sameness. "Critical People" might open with a chord pattern similar to Shakira's "Objection: Tango," but hip-swiveling soon ends, and the band's head-banging "mission to fuck with tradition" begins. That mission ropes in influences that range from modern-day emo bands to bottom-heavy speed-metal gods like Slayer and Metallica.
Stereotyperider patched itself together from several other local hard-core bands. Upsahl and Addington graduated from Mandingo, which released one album on Doctor Dream and one on One Foot before deciding a name change and lineup shift were needed. Perhaps it was the fact that Latin, African and easy-listening groups shared the same name. Or maybe it was related to an increasing number of Web sites that feature white women, um, mandingo-ing black men's appendages. Either way, Mandingo was out. When it came time to look for a new rhythm section, they approached Germinaro, who came in a package deal with King. Shane, a drummer at the time, switched to guitar, and Stereotyperider was born.
You've got to love a band that debuted at a house party on Halloween, told friends on the down-low that they would appear as The Blues Brothers and then not only failed to learn "Rubber Biscuits," but also ditched the idea entirely. Says Upsahl, "We thought, what the fuck would be the exact opposite of The Blues Brothers? Big-ass fucking daisies!" Luckily, the band didn't need the protective barbed wire fence. Last year, the guys performed dressed as *NSYNC and found twice the accolades for their dancing and rapid downstrokes.
At the end of this article, you will love them too, and you'll also discover what the band is wearing for Halloween this year. From here on out, we need only to refer to the band members by their first names, as if they were Justin, Lance, Chris, JC and Joey. We'll start with Shane first, since he's the first one to crack open a beer.
Shane! "I feel blessed" is one of Shane's favorite expressions. In fact, he's the only Stereotyperider to thank the Holy Trinity in the liner notes. He's also the most excitable. When the band performed at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown, Shane felt highly anxious.
"Our friends in Nyla hooked us up . . . they said you'll play to a lot of people coming out of the Diamondbacks game, and so it seemed like a good way to get our music out to people. But I was a little wary because it's set up like a comedy club with tables up to the stage. So you're sweating out a solo, look up from your distortion pedal and there's a guy right in front of you eating shrimp cocktail. So we didn't advertise or tell anybody about the gig. By the grace of God, we ended up having 30 or 40 of our friends come.
"Our dream is to draw 500 people anywhere we play in the United States," Shane continues. "To be able to play everywhere to that many people." The band realized that goal to a degree when it played 26 dates in 30 days on the East Coast with Bigwig last month. Not bad, but that's still a long way from Shane's earlier trepidation of pop-star status.
"I guess we've come to grips that we're not making music for the masses," he says. "If the masses end up liking what we're doing, that's great. When I see a 16-year-old with a Discharge tee shirt singing a Jimmy Eat World song, he's showing a variety and complexity of what his brain will accept as cool."
Mike! "All of us appreciate Mike," says Anthony. "He's got the wife, the two kids, the day job, the screen-printing business and the band. I have a job, a girlfriend and a band, and every day I wonder, How am I gonna get all this shit done?' And he has that times two."
Mike's unearthly business acumen and practicality keep the band moving. "The hardest thing to do is tour by yourself. We won't go on tour unless it's benefiting our band and getting our music out there," Mike says. "Opening slots are the best thing for any band. You can tour by yourself and play for the bartender and five other people, but why book a show if it isn't going to be good?
"When we signed with Suburban Home, we got ourselves out of debt. It wasn't a lot of money, but it paid for the van," Mike insightfully offers. "This last tour was the one where we finally got all the things we need to tour properly. We bought a new van and a brand-new trailer, all the merchandise. It paid for all our gas, but we had to bring our own money for amenities. And this is the first tour where we actually came back with food."
Anthony! "Just before hooking up with these guys, I was playing with Adam's Alcoholics and Sam the Butcher," Anthony says. "I was something of local bass whore."
The guy in Stereotyperider who endures the most ribbing is the guy'll who'll fight the hardest to make his point. He's the one who picked through the intimidating 20-page contracts and exclaimed "Aaah!" more than once.
"Compared to the other contracts, [Suburban Home's] was one we could trust -- three pages and a handshake. When you go to any major label without any credibility, your contract is going to be so limited, they'll have more control over your band than you do. When we all write songs together, we don't write songs to throw them away."
"What would happen if you weren't there to package glasses?" taunts Shane about Anthony's dreaded new day job.
"I guess people wouldn't receive their glasses," Anthony wryly retorts. "They might have to hire someone else at the warehouse to take my place on the days I couldn't come in. That's my new job. I pack boxes of glasses all day long. This place, I was there for a week and they made $6.5 million. I was blown away by that. I'm working for a multimillion dollar corporation, and then I get my next paycheck and I had worked for 40.2 hours. Sure, it's only 15 minutes, but they just told me they made $6.5 million. They can pay me a couple of dollars. So the next week, I work 39.7 hours, figuring they'd round it off. But they only paid me for 39.7 hours!"
Dave! Dave's not talkative, but that's because he's ill. He's got shingles. "So I'm all doped up," he grunts. But here's a trooper, a guy who didn't have to drive all day to Las Vegas last week for a show at the Double Down Saloon with Nebula. The band was all set to do it as a trio, with Shane momentarily returning on the drums, when Dave reached down and summoned Herculean chutzpah.
But it was worth it. Not only did the band have a great show, they had a great new drink to celebrate. Says Anthony, "My friend made me promise him I would order this brown drink that tastes so good. It's called assjuice' and it's very good, but the best part about it is, around the holiday, they put in chunks of corn in it."
Admittedly, Dave's installment is skimpy and, well, gross, but he makes up for it by revealing what the band plans to wear this Halloween.
"We're going as the Blues Brothers."
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