The Blood Brothers
w/Glassjaw, A.N.

Sat Nov 9, Graceland, $12 (all ages, 6 pm).

It feels like it's 1992 all over again, and it has nothing to do with "new" Nirvana on the radio. It has to do with a shift in the winds carrying the major labels' Next Big Things to the masses--winds that, for years, stunk with the sewage of manufactured alt rock. For the first time since the early '90s, bands who practice their trade in small, mangy clubs are fought over in board meetings where empty phrases like "Think outside the box" mean something.

In 2000, At the Drive-In ended up on Virgin. Then the new ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead came out on Interscope. Slowly, it appeared, the closed minds of major labels were creaking open, as edgier acts came out of the gate with recording offers stapled to their foreheads, just as they did 10 years ago when lesser-known Northwest acts were wooed by Warner Bros. But this new rock doesn't have a geographical origin. Though it has proven a tougher market than some new music mecca, the focus now is where it should always be--on the bands making noise.

Just take the case of one of Seattle's best young acts, the Blood Brothers. This avant-hardcore group has an incredible talent for taking what's been done before in punk and hardcore and smashing it into a million pieces, placing the band closer to the frontline of the changing musical guard. "It seems like what's happening now is like what was happening when Nirvana was getting big," says Blood Brothers co-frontman Johnny Whitney. "People were more apt to take a risk on bands that were outside the mainstream."

Adds bassist Morgan Henderson, "It's just like when Nirvana was the enemy of the hair bands, now the Limp Bizkits are the hair bands. Everyone's noticing that a change is coming."

The Blood Brothers are helping to usher in that change. How ironic then that they're getting help from Korn/Limp Bizkit producer Ross Robinson, who brought the band to the attention of industry heavy Ted Field's ARTISTdirect label. "They're more talented than most bands I've worked with," says Robinson of the Blood Brothers. "Music is so boring. It's the same thing over and over. You know how many tapes I get from bands that sound like At the Drive-In? I get angry."

Robinson's friend, Amen frontman Casey Chaos, heard the Blood Brothers' debut, The Adultery Is Ripe, on his tour bus and FedExed a copy to Robinson in April 2001. "He told me I would like it and I was like, 'Yeah, whatever.' I got it at the studio during Slipknot [recording sessions] and it gave me chills. I loved everything about it."

He flew up to Seattle the following month to watch the Blood Brothers play at the Paradox. "I was just blown away. Cody [Votolato] was bleeding all over his guitar, and Johnny just reeks of rhythm. He freaked me out. His whole body is so rhythmic. The way he sings, I could never ever in my wildest dreams dream of doing that myself, and [co-frontman] Jordan [Blilie]--God, he's so good. Morgan was great and [drummer Mark Gajadhar's] beats were awesome. It's mainly the fire that got me, though."

The show led Robinson to bend the ear of Field, CEO of ARTISTdirect--home to Robinson's three-year-old imprint, I AM Recordings--which led to a deal between the band and the label (the Blood Brothers are one of only five bands on I AM). Still, it wasn't like the Blood Brothers were sniffing out a sugar daddy to make press junkets fall from the sky. Just the opposite. After moving from indie Second Nature Recordings to Justin Pearson's (the Locust) label, Three.One.G., the five-piece was about as welcoming to a big name like Robinson as a punk party would be to a DJ with a crate full of Creed. "Our first reaction was, 'Oh, not gonna happen," says guitarist Cody Votolato, sitting in a booth at Stella Pizza after a photo shoot for Alternative Press magazine. "We weren't interested in the bands that he had produced previously. But then we met him and liked him, so it just kind of worked out."

Adds Robinson, "They didn't really want to have anything to do with the guy who worked with Limp Bizkit." He giggles. "Or Korn. Thank God I did At the Drive-In's record. That was my saving grace. They're extremely hardcore when it comes to doing what's right. They're not going to sell out in any way, shape, or form for anybody. I had to really expose myself to them. It took a little time for them to trust me."

Blood Brothers howler Johnny Whitney says, "When we had our big meeting with Ted Field, he was basically like, 'You guys can do whatever you want. If you want to make a 20-minute video and not put it on MTV, and make something weird and abstract, that's fine. Just let me know and we'll send you the check.' It wasn't like, 'You need to sound like this, and this song needs to have a hookier chorus,' or whatever. It's basically like, 'We're here to support your band and you guys can do whatever the fuck you want.' It's the only way it would have worked with our band because we're not a very typical rock band."

And thank fucking God they're not "typical." Earlier this year, the band spent two months in L.A. with Robinson, finishing up their third release, Burn, Piano Island, Burn. The result is a sickeningly amazing record, due out March 4, that's equal parts the decay of Western civilized punk and the rebuilding of a nation of new fractured sound. With titles like "Fuckings Greatest Hits" and "Every Breath Is a Bomb," Burn scalds like "getting maced with your skin off." I stole that line from bassist Henderson (who used it to describe some concoction he'd drank to ward off sickness on tour), but it's fitting when describing the polyrhythmic song structures these guys shoot off like firecrackers, wrapping each bright, violent gem in a swarm of noise, beautiful glockenspiel melodies, pianos, and extra percussion.

It's an exciting time for the Blood Brothers. Right now. Before the industry heavies put their heads back up their Kenneth Cole asses and close their bank accounts to riskier bands. With the Blood Brothers, we have a truly original act in our midst and it's a good thing that bigger names are taking notice. "I know they're going to be successful with all my heart," says Robinson. "You get somebody who works for a record company and is worried about their house payment and bullshit like that, they ruin bands because they'll sell out a whole genre that worked really hard to create a stand. I get bummed out on it, but I think with the Blood Brothers trusting me, we can work together and create something radical that really pushes the limit."