ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 27, 2000
Powerman 5000’s current record-company bio opens with a quote from vocalist Spider One, in which he explains that “being in a band is as close as I could get to being a superhero.” Now, I’ve seen a lot of bands, but never any that were capable—U2’s overzealous efforts included—of saving this troubled planet Earth. And I haven’t seen X-Men yet, but I’m pretty sure that none of the superheroes in that flick wear ski goggles on their foreheads and use cryptic pronouncements from 1940s futurist J.P. Saticoy to kick off their shows.
So when Spidey calls from Wisconsin before the first show on the Korn tour that hits GM Place on Sunday (July 30), I ask him just what’s up with the superhero analogy. “Well, obviously we don’t run around in tights and capes,” replies Spider. “It’s just that idea of having a sort of dual existence, like most superheroes do. They all have the sorta Clark Kent/Superman persona. And being in a band, whether you like it or not, sort of sets up that persona for you. You know, your time on-stage is sort of like that otherworldly moment, and I think that’s the way it appears to most kids out there. But then you’ve got the reality of the situation, which is that you have a real life like everyone else.”
Spider and his bandmates may sport superhero tendencies, but they weren’t above getting some help from (supposedly) mere mortals on their latest CD, the sci-fi–oriented Tonight the Stars Revolt!. Marilyn Manson drummer Ginger Fish tries his hand at piano on the bizarre, lounge-jazz track that closes the disc, “Watch the Sky for Me”; Limp Bizkit’s DJ Lethal mans the turntable on a hyperactive cover of the Cars’ “Good Times Roll”; and Spider’s older brother, Rob Zombie, has a guest vocal on the thrashy “Blast Off to Nowhere”.
“He happened to be in New York at the time that we were in L.A. making the record,” notes Spider, “so we just kinda sent him the tapes and said, ‘Do whatever you want.’ ”
Spider designed and created the cool-looking booklet for Tonight the Stars Revolt!, which, through clever computerization, has been made to resemble an old sci-fi paperback. (He scanned an old copy of the Charles Manson bio Helter Skelter to generate the dog-eared paperback look.) But long before he was doing spiffy graphics for his major-label recording act, Spider was just another rock-loving kid from Boston. And while he does confess a fondness for Beantown’s favourite sons, Aerosmith, the ’70s hard-rock greats weren’t his biggest influence.
“When I was growin’ up there I was definitely into the underground punk-rock scene,” he says, “and that just made me want to make music, because I never had the patience to become, like, a proficient musician—I wasn’t inspired by Eric Clapton or anything. To me it was more about the energy and the vibe, and it didn’t matter how you did it, as long as it sounded good.”