Drums - Dino, Bass guitar - Jon Troy Winquist, Vocals/Guitar - Rust Epique
There's a band from Hollywood called PRE)THING. Well, there are a million bands from Hollywood. And they're full of people from all over the country-all over the world, actually-and they all want to play their music and they all want to be famous. Most of them won't succeed. Some of the ones that do succeed won't deserve it. Some that deserve success will never find it. There's only one sure thing about these bands: there will always be a steady supply of them. Which is why when a guy with a vision, like PRE)THING's guitarist/singer, Rust Epique, meets up with two amazing musicians, like PRE)THING's drummer Dinolicious and bassist JonTroy, who not only understand his vision, but actually enable and further that vision, you have that which transcends the normal. You should know that PRE)THING isn't a normal band. You should know Rust is an artist-as in an accomplished painter, as in "different," as in occasionally "difficult," as in eccentric-as well as a musician. Rust is more than joined by Dinolicious and JonTroy-he says that he's tired of people being more interested in the singer than anybody else in the band, insisting that his partners are more important than he is. You should also know that PRE)THING is one of those things that's more than the sum of its parts. Yeah, they're a power trio in the every-player-is-a-badass tradition of Cream, The Police, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Rush-but they don't sound like an every-player-is-a-badass, old-fashioned rock band. There's a reason the threesome's debut is called 22nd Century Lifestyle episode: RUSTANDTHESUPERHEROES SEXDRUGSANDSOUTHERNCITYROCK: this is the sound of the future. Rust envisioned it as Crystal Method meets Willie Nelson and he's right. Well, sort of. Maybe if Willie ate 'shrooms with Linkin Park. Or if Crystal Method got down with Jane's Addiction at Stax/Volt studios. 22nd Century Lifestyle is a record in the same vein as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magic-though it's not funky. The disc is a cross-pollination of art-rock, alt. rock, blues (check out the coda of "Asssending"), and full-throttle rock. Fluttering, wavering digital effects sometimes color Rust's vocals and drums, dozens of guitar track fill every crack, the occasional electronica sound burbles through, and the rhythm tracks are so solid you could build a trailer park on them. Southern City Rock-it's greasy, but not backwoods. A couple years ago, Rust was living a rustic life in a trailer in Modesto, California. All he really had were some clothes, maybe a guitar, and a four-song demo CD for the project he was calling RUSTANDTHESUPERHEROES at the time. He'd been in a Platinum-selling band, but realized that selling a million records didn't change anything. (Here's a hint: PRE)THING's first L.A. show was billed under the name Daisytown. Google him if you still don't get it.) Soon, Rust had a band of himself and a couple high school kids. A Modesto writer did a piece about Rust and his songs, and things started taking off. But when push came to shove, and his music starting getting the attention it deserved, Rust told the kids he was breaking up the band. In reality, his heart of gold kept him from stopping the kids from going on-he told their parents that he couldn't keep them from going to college. So he moved to Las Vegas and tried to figure out his next move. (Says a friend: "Rust stuck in there when @#%$! went dark. He's a foul-mouthed phoenix rising from the ashes.") That's when opportunity came calling-literally. V2 Records' Scott Graves phoned Rust and chatted him up for more than two hours, telling the oddball musician that he had to sign him. As the conversation went on, and on, Graves happened to yawn, as people are prone to doing, but Rust took that as a sign of Graves being dishonest and promptly hung up. There's your artistic temperament. He avoided V2 for a short while before finally making huge demands of the label: they had to give him a ton of money to fund the immense project and they couldn't ever tell him no until he made a mistake (impossible). 22nd Century Lifestyle makes the case for giving into Rust's demands. There's tension and power in the thick, dense torrents of guitar and the onslaught of drums. It's dark, it's heavy, but it's melodic. (You're not too old to remember when heavy rock didn't involve rapping, right?) Rust's voice is a surprisingly potent weapon. He can deliver a gruff whisper that Michael Hutchence would die for ("Faded Love") or he can get way into a falsetto like Jeff Buckley ("Won + X"), but his smoky baritone primarily coats songs with the world-weariness of Mark Lanegan. None of the vocal talents would mean a thing if the music didn't back him up. There's certainly more depth to the songwriting than your average big rock record. Weird, spooky whispering ends "Tigh it High," which opens with a sonic assault that makes the Smashing Pumpkins sound wimpy, but there are shining acoustic guitars on "Stay Alive" that showcase a crisp, minor-key delicacy. True to its title, this is a record that looks to the future. Rust talks in circles about the past, sometimes confusing himself and the people around him. Asked about the origins of the band, he says, "When the [1994 Northridge] earthquake hit, somebody told me that one day I was going to meet guys name JonTroy and Dinolicious and start a band. Then he tangents into something completely different-about how the movie Unbreakable is the story of his life. What is true is that both JonTroy and Dinolicious moved from New York state to Los Angeles to chase that rock & roll dream. Since combining forces, the three have played almost every single day, and spent most of the beginning of 2003 on tour. On a rare break from the road, Rust slept inside the tour bus anyways. In addition to spending all of their time together, the band's closeness shows itself in the communal deadpan humor. One person will start a story and the other two will add details. Like, how Barbara Streisand sings on a track on 22nd Century Lifestyle. When they start, they won't stop: Jontroy will bust into acapella Guns n' Roses songs with little prompting. He almost got arrested in Las Vegas for being naked while singing all of Use Your Illusion I on the rooftop of a downtown motel. Makes sense then, that Rust says the band's motto is embodied in their record's "22nd Century Lifestyle." "You obviously have to know what you want before you go about getting it. And we know what we want," says Dinolicious. "It's exciting to know what you want. Then you can go for it." And go for it they do. The disc, says Rust, "is the most positive piece of art this century. '(Carl's Song) Shoot, Shoot' is about somebody getting shot because he's trying to save somebody he loves. 'Sunshine' is about the sun and a girl and her love. Pretty much the whole record is a love record. I'm not one of those people who wants to believe that you have to get smacked down to get back up when one door closes, another opens-I'm not that king of guy. But it's true; I'm living proof. It's all about staying up all night and doing the job." Just don't expect Rust to explain everything; in his case, the music really is the message. "This band is all about going for it," Rust says. "It's about starting from something, breaking it down and becoming more than something." PRE)THING is more than something. It's something else. It's something you need to hear to believe.