Local Wire

Shot to the Head

I've been burping up the taste of local acid-punk band Blanche Davidian for the past two days — specifically, the carbonated cough syrup flavor of the band's new "Orange Sunshine" shot, available exclusively at Hollywood Alley in Mesa.

The shot was the first drink I had when I arrived at the listening party for the band's upcoming second album, Orange Sunshine, on a humid Tuesday night. So is the shot named after the album, or vice versa? It doesn't matter — both will fuck you up. The shot tastes like a combination of fruity energy drink, 150-proof vodka, and ass. The album sounds like a combination of raunchy Euro-trash rock, beefy FM '70s rock, and psychedelic glam punk. Potent stuff.

As I cram myself into one of the bar's big, leather booths with the five members of Blanche Davidian — singer Jamie Monistat VII, guitarists Mike Hawk and Nikki Seven, bassist Ozzy Osmond, and drummer Hugh Jass — I inquire about the mountain of orange powder on the table to our right.

The pile's Pixie Stix dust, and it's both a promotional tool and a tribute. Orange Sunshine takes its title from "one of the more potent, powder types of LSD during the '60s," Osmond says. "Most of us love psychedelic music, even though it's sometimes very different styles of psychedelic music. We try to fancy ourselves as a psychedelic band in some ways."

There's a brief silence before Monistat adds, "But then again, we do have an arena rock type of thing going on, and an arena punk thing . . . we have two guitar gods in the band, so we're not just a stoner rock group."

Definitely not. Stoner rock is often sludgy, and this new album is anything but — it's barreling out of the speakers like a race horse on hallucinogens as we speak.

This is the first time the band members have heard the album since they finished recording it, and they all express satisfaction. "We were pretty sick of playing the songs by the time we were done," Jass says.

And by the time they were done, it had been almost five years since the release of Blanche Davidian's first album, Attack of the Killer.

While the band never stopped playing shows during the period between albums, some things have changed. For one, the band didn't have a drummer on the first record, so there were a lot of drum samples and digital beats. Now the band has Jass, and they sound more bottom-heavy and bouncy. Seven is also a newer addition, having replaced Will "Vil Vodka" Tyner in 2004. Tyner now serves as Blanche Davidian's manager, and the new album is being released through his Vodka Tonic Media label. He's also the man who concocted the band's new Orange Sunshine shot and its locally infamous "Robitussin" shot (introduced in 2004).

"You know, it's like when you're younger and you're in your death rock phase, and you're at the cemetery trying to have sex, but you can't walk 'cause you're puking because you took too much Robitussin," Monistat says. "It's something like that."

Perhaps the Robitussin had a peripheral influence on the band's bizarre song titles, like "Marilynesque Chambers," "Chlamydia Schiffer," and "99 Red Zeppelins." It definitely inspired "Robitussin Ex," where Monistat snarls, "Oh, pump my stomach now! Release bile!"

Davidian fans hollering, "Release the CD!" will get their wish at the band's upcoming CD-release party. And to hear the band members tell it over six shots of Orange Sunshine, the live show is where it's at. "We try to play with a lot of energy and put on a full show with lights and stuff like that," Monistat says. "Really, we have more fun onstage, together as a band, than anything else we do."

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea