THERE ARE PROBABLY A COUPLE OF PLACES MORE "rock" than a Taco Bell Express to interview a band (say, backstage at the gig when the band is doing lines). But dining in the molded plastic seating area of a gas station is pretty roots-basic to the subject at hand. Rock.

And no matter how you slice it, C AVERAGE is rock. Don't fret about what kind. If you start to think that hard, you're already violating one of the basic tenets of rock and roll. Just take it on faith that C Average has a patent pending on Orc Rock. Take loud, heavy double-bass-drum metal. Add a liberal salting of Tolkien and a dose of guitar widgery. Just don't ingest it on an empty stomach. Their self-titled debut on Kill Rock Stars has a bizarre charm that might stem from the Excalibur-lovin' lyrics or the mere notion of a heavy metal band consisting of two guys, neither of which has a mullet.

THE STRANGER: What is the nature of your quest?

JON: We seek the Holy Grail.

What do you call the music you play?

JON: Hard rock. I've been giving it a lot of thought lately. We've got some metal songs, but we're not a true metal band by any means. We've been called thinly disguised cock rock. I don't know about that, though.

Do you believe in magic?

JON: Ohhh. I do. Brad doesn't, though.
BRAD: Jon's still in his childhood.

Did you play Dungeons & Dragons?

JON: I did a little bit, but I lived way out in the boonies and I didn't have too many friends. I was always into fantasy and science fiction, but I would just go out in the woods and pretend. In Dungeons & Dragons you have to sit in one place for a long time and I just couldn't wrap my head around that. I'd rather be outside with a wooden sword, casting magic spells.
BRAD: I don't believe in magic. I saw it unmasked on Fox.

Which heavy metal is better? British or American?

BRAD: Whoa. British.
JON: British. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. Hmm. I wonder what it is with two names? C Average! Van Halen!

What would you rather do without: science fiction or the color black?

JON: I think our answers will differ on that. I could probably live without black, and I think Brad could go without science fiction.
BRAD: You are correct. I'm not as into the imagination end of things as Jon is. I like science fact. Realism is my thing.

You're getting a reputation for your huge sound, so it's kind of a novelty that you're a small band.

JON: We wanted to do something a little different. Try some metal with two people. It's a challenge.

What is the official practice among heavy metalers: You're going to see Iron Maiden--do you take your girlfriend to the concert or go with the guys?

JON: You could do it either way. I might be afraid for the safety of my girlfriend. But it depends on what your girlfriend is like and whether she'd even want to go.
BRAD: If she wants to go down in the mosh pit--then she goes!

Jack Daniel's or Jolt cola?

BRAD: Jolt. But the official drink of C Average would be Coke.

If there's a rock and roll heaven, who'd be in your favorite dead rock band?

BRAD: Okay, so you've got John Bonham and Keith Moon double drumming.
JON: And Hendrix on guitar.
BRAD: They have to be dead?

Yeah. It's not your ideal band. It's your ideal dead band.

BRAD: I can't think of a dead bassist.
JON: We'd have to kill Geddy Lee.

Who's your fave guitarist?

JON: Pete Townshend. He's so good and true. His songwriting and technique are great, and he can really get people going.

Who's your most massive fave drummer?

BRAD: That's a tough one. Scott Jernigan, probably. It was such a sad day when Karp broke up. I guess Neil Peart after that.

Does being from Olympia cripple or enhance your reputation?

JON: If we were an actual metal band, I think it would cripple us.
BRAD: A lot of people don't expect our sound coming from Olympia or Kill Rock Stars.

Does it seem weird or ironic that you play the same kind of music that a Mason County bar band plays?

JON: We don't take ourselves as seriously as bar bands do. We're serious about doing music, but we don't have that attitude of "Whoa, dude, where's the lighting system and the smoke machine?"

Where do you stand on mustaches?

JON: I'm not opposed to them.
BRAD: Nah, I don't want no facial hair. But you gotta like how Hessian they are.

Is hair important for metal bands?

BRAD: For the ones in Mason County.