We Are the Spazbots

Everybody loves a good epic musical performance. Unfortunately, there are usually two problems with Broadway-scale productions: 1) They're normally held in arenas, which carry high ticket prices; and 2) highfalutin productions are often employed by acts whose music is the equivalent of slow torture.

The Epoxies, however, defy the paradigm. They might be 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 never-ending arsenal of nutty, high-concept ideas devised to make each live performance more elaborate than the last. And the 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. Josie Cotton, Gary Numan and the Ants oughta suck it up right about now.

The band is from Portland, and consists of Roxy Epoxy on vocals, Viz Spectrum on guitars, Shock Diode on bass, Fritz M. ("FM") Static on keyboards and vocals, and Cathode Ray on drums. Appropriately enough, they initially formed as a sort of defense against apathy. "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?' " laughs FM. "'What if we actually practiced and tried to write good songs and things like that?' "

Before they got to that point, however, they had to experiment a bit. At first it was 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," adds FM, referring to the boxes. "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. "I was definitely a 'car singer' at that point," she says. "It was a new thing, and it was horrifying."

After singing "867-5309/Jenny" enough times in karaoke bars, Roxy got used to singing in front of 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," he says. "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, things have been fruitful for the Epoxies: The band's first record on Seattle's Dirtnap Records sold 1,700 copies in one month. Part of its popularity is due to the exciting live show -- how can you resist watching five adults completely spaz out while wearing taped-together clothes and glasses like that blind dude on Star Trek: The Next Generation? Though it could be seen 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.

Of course, a good Broadway production is never without folly. Setting the band's 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 plunked on stage. 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 on stage 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 overcompensating or making light of the fact that we're on stage acting like rock stars. For me, it just felt necessary to do something more pretentious. We're really tired of bands that are unpretentious."

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Julianne Escobedo Shepherd