Sum 41

Only a week after Jackass: The Movie opened in Houston, "Jackass: The Band" barrels into town with a one-night screening at the Engine Room, starring those wacky Canadian rockers Sum 41. The four lads from Ajax, Ontario, are proof that high school kids in the suburbs can be bored out of their minds and driven to inane acts of rebellion -- possibly involving flames -- even outside the United States, where such antics have become a well-practiced art.

The band's initial buzz in this country got going last year when Island Records distributed thousands of free copies of a homemade video of the lovable mop-tops to kids at concerts and skate parks prior to the release of the All Killer, No Filler album. But rather than performance shots, the video featured the quartet ambushing Ajax motorists with super-soakers. MTV balked at airing the video in a post-Columbine fit of pique, even though the network apparently has no problem with any high jinks Tom Green or Johnny Knoxville can muster.

The result of all of this hype has been the typical overnight success story played out in Carson Daly's mind every couple of months for the past two years, a situation that in this case has created a band more gargantuan than the sum of its parts. Even Noel Gallagher of Oasis reportedly paid the band the ultimate prop by declaring Sum 41 and System of a Down "the two worst bands ever." Just think, only four years ago the boys were setting fire to abandoned vehicles.

Naturally, the members of Sum 41 predict that they won't flame out like so many other former MTV darlings because they plan to maintain a brutal touring schedule -- the band's Texas leg of their world tour begins only three days after a club date in Tokyo -- and to find their own musical niche among the slagheap of Green Day spin-offs by embracing 1980s metal -- everything from Iron Maiden to Canada's own Helix. The group has more genuine crunch in its guitars than your typical distortion pedal. Perhaps sensing its fate in a world of instant pop gratification, the band has already begun a metamorphosis by creating a hair-farmer side project dubbed Pain for Pleasure, with plans to include a track or two on the new Sum 41 album due in November. As the boys sing in the single "Fat Lip": "Heavy metal and mullets, it's how we were raised."

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Greg Barr
Contact: Greg Barr