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Auto Exhaustion

It's not often that I feel like I'm in the middle of an episode of V.I.P. Actually, part of the inept glory of Pamela Anderson Lee's action series is that it never feels like anybody's real life, with the possible exception of those well-tanned, scantily clad super sleuths out there who are unable to wrap their collagen-injected lips around a coherent sentence without the aid of cue cards. Basically, V.I.P. is for those who thought Charlie's Angels was too gritty and streetwise.

Having said all that, last Wednesday I briefly felt like an extra on the V.I.P set. It happened about midway through Jesus Chrysler Supercar's set at Bash on Ash. Even by normal JCS standards, this was a raucous gig from the first cymbal crash, with glitter flying all over the crowd and booze being sprayed in every direction.

Fueling this escalating sense of calculated mayhem was the fact that the band was being videotaped. Jesus Chrysler recently signed a deal with new British label DC Recordings for European distribution, with guarantees of a U.K. tour and a heavy video push on MTV Europe.

"It's to serve a couple of purposes," Mitch Steele, the band's singer, says of the footage shot at the gig. "One of the main purposes, obviously, is that we have good video footage to help shop the band. The other thing is this deal with the company out of the U.K."

Before Jesus Chrysler even hit the stage, word was spreading that some video ringers were gonna make it up onstage and turn the proceedings into a kind of homage to "Hot for Teacher" or "Girls Girls Girls," depending on which brand of sexist '80s metal you prefer.

Sure enough, early in the show, a couple of excitable women in the front row lowered their skimpy tops for the camera. But that was hardly preparation for what was to come. About 45 minutes into the gig, 10 or so V.I.P. types jumped onstage and jiggled like it was 1999. Josh Prior of Yoko Love (who opened the show, along with Digital Free Loner Boy) joined the festivities, alternately grinding with the dancers and getting passed over the crowd like a beach ball. Meanwhile, breasts were getting exposed like it was Cinemax on a Friday night. The lingering question at the end of the night, though, was who were those merry exhibitionists, and what did they have to do with Jesus Chrysler Supercar?

"I have no idea who the hell they were," says Steele. "I know that some of them were from Tiffany's. I didn't know 'em from shit. I think it might have been that our co-manager's girlfriend used to work at Tiffany's, and she just came down with a bunch of her friends. So I'm just like, 'Whatever. I have no problem with you showing us your tits all night long.'"

Once order was restored to a manageable level of anarchy, Jesus Chrysler returned to its patented high-decibel rock, winding down with a version of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love." All the while, the band's van driver, Dave Jensen (who I like to call "the sixth Chrysler"), danced like his NASCAR jumpsuit had caught on fire and basically chewed up the scenery with true rock 'n' roll gusto.

Wild as the video shoot was, the real excitement for Jesus Chrysler is yet to come, with the six-song EP Land Speed set for a June 10 release and a six-to-eight-week European tour likely for September. The video footage will likely be edited into clips for "Dope Sick Lunatic" and "Jillbilly," the latter of which Steele describes as "a modern-day 'Lola' kind of song."

The band's European connection was facilitated by one of the band's two managers, Brian Scully, who used to work at Sony Records. Two months ago, at SXSW, he made a connection with DC founders Tony Dobson and Paul Cardow, U.K. concert promoters who had formed into a record label and were looking for American acts.

"It's not really a money deal, like signing a deal here, where you're promised $500,000 or something," Steele says. "It's an opportunity for us to go over there and tour, and it's exposure over there, which gives us more of an edge over here.

"I guess they want some American-sounding bands over there. I guess everybody's really burned on the whole English sound, especially in England. They're really sick of it, and they're looking for some new stuff."

On the Mend: I'm generally not one for unbridled gushing, but, for my money, the gutsiness shown by St. Madness singer Prophet at last month's New Times Music Awards showcase blew away the recent, much-publicized seventh-game dramatics of Coyotes star Jeremy Roenick.

Prophet played the April 18 show although he was seriously illing with a debilitating bacterial infection. He made it through eight songs, the last one on his knees, before collapsing onstage at Trails. He woke up at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital--Osborn, where he spent the next two weeks getting pumped with three different antibiotics.

The good news is that Prophet's been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks and is doing much better, although he's remained on steroids to help him with his breathing. For me, the most impressive part of the story is that when Prophet woke up in his hospital bed, he actually apologized to his bandmates for "ruining" the Music Awards gig. Look up the word "gamer" in Webster's, and you'll find Prophet's scary, mascara-caked mug next to it.

Pastry Heroes: The Scones may be regarded by many as a cover band, but over the years they've worked an increasing number of well-crafted, melodic originals into their set lists. Their underrated songwriting talents are displayed on the new CD, Do You Hear?, whose release will be celebrated on Sunday, May 23, at Arizona Roadhouse in Tempe. Also on the bill are the Pete Forbes Group and Richard Salem.

On the Beam: Punk-pop troublemakers Pollen came away victorious from the May 13 Jim Beam Back Room "Band Search Rock Edition" in Chicago. They defeated four other regional contestants in this third-annual national search for the best unsigned modern rock band.

Fire Starters: Techno-rockers Sipping Soma have scored a coup by filling their guitar vacancy with Pete DiStefano, former guitarist with Porno for Pyros. Since Porno for Pyros' demise, DiStefano has played with legendary punk bassist Mike Watt and formed an electronic music project called Rambient.

Problem Children: L.A.'s rococo-pop band The Negro Problem has turned the Valley--and particularly Hollywood Alley--into a kind of second home over the last year, so it's hardly surprising that it's coming to town to celebrate the release of its sophomore CD, Joys and Concerns, which hits the stores on May 25. TNP's Valley CD-release show is scheduled for Friday, May 21, at Hollywood Alley, with opening acts Haggis and Why So Fly.--Gilbert Garcia

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: [email protected]