Wednesday, January 18
One look at the white plastic shades and the retro-futurist stage wear sported by Portland, Oregons The Epoxies and youll think you have them pegged. A listen to the synth-heavy pop that the band pumps out would seal the deal.
The band may travel with a well-stocked bag of random materials (most notably duct tape) so that they can make new costumes every night, but the shtick isnt necessarily as thick as you might think. According to the bands vocalist and keyboard player FM Static, despite the bands cryptic stage names and laser light show, there is a lot more going on than just reliving the 80s.
"I get a little sketched out when people use the 80s to describe us, because I think its really not apt," he says. "I think when people think that, they think Wham and Culture Club and A-ha. I think the stuff that we are really inspired by and biting on is 76 to 81. You know punk rock, various proto punk
and post punk stuff."
Static would gladly trade in the many comparisons his band gets to Berlin and Blondie for the more appropriate nods to The Rezillos and Devo. But even then, the bands influences cant be limited. As it turns out, The Epoxies are as much a product of where they live as any other band from Portland. And by saying that, its not lumping them in with all the hometown buzz bands that have recently become critical darlings. In fact, calling Portland the new Montreal as many have lately quickly brings an air of skepticism to Statics voice.
"You cant always hear it, but I think we are really inspired by the garage rock scene everywhere, but especially in the Pacific Northwest," he says.
Born from the same region that spawned Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Kingsmen and The Sonics, The Epoxies have the classic song structures and crunchy guitars that make those bands so appealing.
"I think in some way we are as much The Mummies as we are Berlin or something like that," he says.
But to get to the heart of The Epoxies sound, you have to look at Portlands music scene not now, but at the turn of the millennium.
"There was a lot of leather-jacket-and-cowboy-hat wearing, Pabst Blue Ribbon-swilling kind of bands out there," says Static. "It became sort of less fun, a little less goofy. So the actual conception of our band was to do the polar opposite of that. We embraced all these things that were completely uncool at the time, like keyboards. You know strap-on keyboards, no less. You could not think of a more uncool instrument. The whole concept was that everyone was going to hate this so much it would be so funny, which honestly fell on its face because people kind of liked it."
And it wasnt just the hometown crowd that dug them. The Epoxies sold an unheard of 1,700 copies of their debut seven-inch in the first month of its release and subsequently signed to heavyweight punk label Fat Wreck Chords for their full-length Stop the Future. Now with a relentless touring schedule to support the glowing reviews, all the band has to worry about (besides running out of duct tape) is those pesky new wave comparisons.
"New wave has become kind of a dirty word, because its a catch-all term
. It means the same thing that alternative does, which is nothing at all," says Static. "We are informed by our friends, bands that are playing right now. I think we are going to sound, to a certain extent, modern."