broke in Seattle in the early 90s and Portland became desirable
to the alterna-lifestyle culture mavens, precious few local
hard rock acts had been able to separate themselves from
the barrage of pop-metal sludge grinders that record companies
seemed to throw daily at the music weary public. Only Portland
bands like Black N' Blue and multi-ethnic forerunners the
Dan Reed Network seemed to successfully break through the
silicone umbrella for at least a brief twirl with the freakish
muse of fame.
latest offering, Slowrush, and their first Sony/Epic release,
Volume, listen like a Techno Buttrock excursion through
the smiley-faced depths of 70s power pop. Imagine Trent
Reznor and Rob Zombie jamming with Cheap Trick at Ziggy
Stardust's house. Along with frontman Rob Daiker, Volume
features two other Generator alumni--Dan Pred on drums and
Blake Sakamoto on keyboards--rounded out by Garth Parker
on guitar and Caleb Spiegel on bass. Portland showbiz luminary
and OHM nightclub impresario, Dan Reed, shares some musical
and production credits on several songs as well. "Junkie,"
the first single off Volume, can be heard on KNRK
and KUFO. It has reached 46 on the national airplay charts
at this writing. Epic is planning to release the next single,
"Breathe," within the next few months.
most record companies scared clueless by the potential loss
of product control due to the MP3s and Napsters of the world,
execs are under pressure to deliver blockbuster hits. Amidst
the interchangeable homogeneity of a seemingly endless group
of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Green Day postgrunge wannabes
drifts a sizable scrapbarge of white, cock-centric, bitch
slappin' rap metal screamers. Along comes Slowrush, who
differ from both in style and tenor. Daiker looks to 80's
hard rock and 70's power pop for inspiration and to lend
an ass crunching heavy techno guitar vibe. Songs with guitar
and vocal hooks along with vocal harmonies piled on top
of rhythmic heaviosity come hard and fast throughout the
CD. Two respectably written acoustic guitar, airy space
ballads, "Star" and "Weight," lend sensitivity mojo to Volume's
continuous industrial pop plunger throb.
Slowrush's debut succeeds in leaving an imprint upon the
musical ether, it stands out and rocks harder than any Portland
major label offering has in quite some time. But the accidentally
Darwinistic music/radio business can deliver the swiftest
death blows. Wherever Slowrush ends up in the vast pile
of releases that major labels throw against the wall, hoping
for one to stick,Volume will still be one CD that
had what it takes from the beginning.
When you were growing up what was your favorite band?
Around the time I was 14 or 15 I really got into AC/DC.
I was listening to Van Halen and the first two or three
AC/DC records. I taught myself how to play guitar to that
How were you affected by the so-called "grunge"
When it kind of broke out in '91 or '92 I was listening
to nothing near that. I was listening to old Sly and the
Family Stone and old Chicago records. I never bought a Nirvana
record. I missed the whole thing and I don't think that
I was too heavily affected by it, although some amazing
music came out then. There was a huge chunk of bands that
made some great shit. It just got so diluted with everybody
else trying to sound like that.
I hear kind of a Bowie-esque Ziggy vibe to your vocal
approach. Do you agree?
I agree but I never really listened to Bowie that much.
To be honest, I never really thought of myself as any kind
of singer. It was just that when I wanted to put the band
together I didn't have anybody to sing and I just thought
to myself, 'Well...I better sing.' It's been a progression
with me as far as getting better at it.
I noticed that Dan Reed co-produced the CD, co-wrote some
of the songs and there are members of the former Dan Reed
Network playing on it. What is the deal there?
When I first put Generator together it was basically
myself and the drummer Dan Pred. I had written a bunch of
songs and we had wanted to go into the studio and make a
record. Blake (Sakamoto, keyboards) expressed an interest
in playing with us too and we thought we might as well go
and play a couple gigs; so I hired a bass player, John Stanford,
and we started to play shows around town as a four piece.
We were getting ready to go in and do the record and I had
been friends with Dan for quite a while and he's got a lot
of good ideas, so he added some things to some of the songs.
That's basically how that came about.
How did you get signed to Epic?
We released the first Generator record and it was okay;
you know, it didn't go crazy or anything. We had a couple
labels that sort of said 'That's cool, we'd like to hear
some more.' We came across John and Tommy Thayer with the
Eon label around early '98 and they approached me with going
in and making a whole new record that would come out on
Eon. When the recording for that was all said and done some
of the rough mixes got out to a friend of a friend and got
flipped to the next guy and next thing you know there was
a radio station up in Seattle that was really into it and
a lot of people got excited which sparked a management deal
that came to us pretty quick. It's two guys based out of
Seattle and they're pretty heavily connected in the radio
industry and the labels and they went out and shopped the
demo. Epic was the only one who stood up and said 'We definitely
want to sign these guys.' In the midst of all of that I
was still signed to Eon.
Did Epic buy out your contract from Eon?
When did Epic release the CD?
What happened then? Did you get any airplay? Did you
go on the road?
A month before the CD came out it started to hit air.
We got a lot of play in Portland and all around the nation,
actually. Then we hit the road for a month and a half.
How was the support from the label? Did you have a bus?
It was pretty good, actually. We had a big-ass van, like
an 18 passenger with a trailer. It was comfortable. There
were only six of us so everybody got their own little area.
As far as support from the label goes... It's tough on our
label because we're on the same roster as Korn, Incubus,
Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine. All those bands
are constantly fighting for priority status and obviously
some of them have priority status. Sometimes when
you're at the bottom you have to scrape a little bit and
you have to fight to be heard.
On the tour were you opening for someone or were you playing
A lot of them were our shows. We opened for this band
called Caroline's Spine and also Nickelback. Some of the
rooms were like the size of the Roseland and some were just
smaller clubs like an EJ's. This band Caroline's Spine is
really popular in certain sections of the Midwest and they
would sell like 1500 tickets. It helped because we had airplay
in most of these spots... also most of the shows were all-ages.
Did you hit any strip clubs?
Yeah, we have a remix CD of the first single and we
would go to each strip club in town and give the strippers
free CD's. It was a cool way to meet them and a cool way
to have the music heard, too. I would have to say I think
the best strip club was in Toledo, Ohio. St. Louis had a
couple cool ones, too.
So I guess the next step would be for them to put you
on tour with somebody big.
That's what we're looking at right now. We're trying to
get a supporting slot with a bigger band. You can go out
and beat yourself to death playing small shows for a year
or try and be smart about it and get the right tour that
will get you in front of more people.
What kind of wacky shit happened during your tour?
In general, because the shows were all-ages, there was definitely
a danger of like, 'How old are you?' We were literally checking
ID's backstage. I wasn't really into that whole thing but
the girl situation was pretty awesome. There was a pretty
good stretch for like two or three weeks where there were
just huge parties in our hotel rooms.
was one funny story. We were playing in Colorado Springs
and there was this young girl--I swear she looked like she
was thirteen. We were playing and there was like a thousand
kids there. I noticed this girl and she was singing along
with every word. We were all talking afterwards and she's
trying to act older, smoking a cigarette. So there was a
huge party back at the hotel afterwards and there were all
of these kids there. She started talking about how her Dad
is the program director of the station that's playing our
song, and I looked at one of the other guys in the band
and said like, 'She needs to get out of here.' So she finally
gets home at like seven in the morning and gets in a huge
fight with her Dad and runs away from home for two weeks.
I don't think that station kept playing our song.