w/ the Briefs, the Spits, the Catahoula Hounds
Fri May 17,
Everybody loves a good, high-concept, epic musical performance. (If you think you don't, I've got one word for you: pyrotechnics.) Unfortunately, there are usually two problems with Broadway-scale productions: (1) they are normally held in arenas, which carry high ticket prices, and (2) high-concept productions are often employed by acts whose music is the equivalent of slow torture.
The Epoxies, however, defy the paradigm. They're probably headed for arenas because they're so fucking great, but conveniently, you can still catch them in dirty, dingy clubs. They're heavily armed with strobe lights, duct-tape pants, fog, flames, and a neverending arsenal of nutty, high-concept ideas devised to make each live performance more elaborate than the last. And their music? Super-catchy, energetic, smart, punky new wave with futuristic synths, rippin' guitar solos, and a compelling singer whose low yelps and growls never miss a note, even though she's dancing and leaping around like a fish on dry land the whole time. Josie Cotton, Gary Numan, and the Ants oughta suck it up right about now.
The Epoxies are from Portland, and consist of Roxy Epoxy on vocals, Viz Spectrum on guitars, bassist Shock Diode, keyboardist/vocalist Fritz M. ("FM") Static, and Dr. Grip on "rhythm prescription." Appropriately enough, they initially formed as a sort of defense against apathy; says FM, "In some ways we thought, 'What would happen if, for once, we were in a band that didn't have a lot of self-defeating mentalities? And we actually practiced and tried to write good songs and things like that?' That was one of my big epiphanies--going beyond writing something that sounded like a song to reassessing it and thinking it sounded like a good song."
But before they got to that point, they had to experiment a bit. At first they were purely a concept band, with Viz and FM messing around with ideas in their basement. "Originally, we were going to be a sci-fi garage band, or some garage robot band," says FM, "but that didn't really pan out the way we'd envisioned it."
"The refrigerator boxes were too bulky," explains Viz.
"We were going to dress up as robots in refrigerator boxes," FM confirms. "If we had our way, I'm sure we'd be flying in on wires and emerging from pods. But once we realized it was enough work just keeping our duct-tape pants together, the whole robot thing went out the window."
Eventually, FM recruited Roxy for the band. Though she'd briefly sung with FM in the band Rainbow Brite & the Assholes, Roxy admits she still wasn't quite comfortable with the stage. She says, "I was definitely a 'car singer' at that point. It was a new thing, and it was horrifying."
After enough times of singing "867-5309/Jenny" in karaoke bars, Roxy got used to singing for people, and she and FM took it to the next level: the four-track. "Roxy and I got in the basement and did some recording. When I played it for the other guys, they were like, 'Oh my god, who's this incredible band?' and I was like, 'Surprise! It's us!'"
Since then, overachieving has been fruitful for the Epoxies; their first record on Seattle's Dirtnap Records sold 1,700 copies in one month. Part of their popularity is definitely due to their explosive, exciting live show--how can you resist watching five adults completely spazz out while wearing taped-together clothes and glasses like that blind dude wears in Star Trek: The Next Generation? But their music speaks for itself. Though it could be looked upon as retro, it's tastefully executed without being ironic, and it will please the punkers as easily as the new wavers and the pop kids--besides, their enthusiasm is totally contagious.
'Course, a good Broadway production is never without folly. Setting their stage performance sights so high has resulted in some rather comical blunders, like the time they tried to have an elaborate, angelic finale with a pillow's worth of feathers blowing over the audience, and the feathers just pooped out and landed onstage. But FM says that kind of stuff will never stop them from trying, 'cause they're not afraid to look silly. "There are two kinds of people who can get out onstage and act like rock stars: one is the kind who think they deserve all the attention they're getting and think they are rock stars, and those people tend to be assholes. Then there's the other half of us who realize we're total idiots, and we're either overcom- pensating or making light of the fact that we're onstage acting like rock stars," he says. "For me, it just felt necessary to do something more pretentious, you know? We're really tired of bands that are unpretentious." Use the Epoxies as evidence: Pretense + idiocy + costumes + good music = a great fucking time.