One of my favorite performers live is Spider One from Powerman 5000. He just has this fucking energy about him that reaches way down deep and grabs your soul, and I truly fucking feel that he is one of the great ones, so it was my absolute PLEASURE to interview him for my magazine. We talked about his career, Megatronic records, and Rob….Read On!
MI: When is your birthday?
Spider: August 25th.
MI: Tell us why you chose to release ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Vol. 1’.
Spider: We’ve always had a ton of old stuff hanging around…. A lot of people don’t realize that Powerman 5000 has been around since ’91 and our roots back in Boston and that we did everything ourselves. We recorded everything ourselves and we were a really hard working band before we even knew what a record deal was. So we started going through the history of the band and I realized what a waste it was that we never released any of this good material. It seemed like a good time and some relationships have been strained through out the years between me and some of the older members. It’s cool because it got us back together with a couple of the guys I haven’t talked to in years and it was a nice way to reconnect with everybody.
MI: What is the current line-up for Powerman 5000?
Spider: As always the lineup of Powerman seems to be in constant flux. We’re pretty much the same line-up as we were on the transform record. That’s as of today, if you talked to me tomorrow it could change. Adam Williams has been with the band since the very beginning, he is the only original member still around. Ada is here because he embodies the whole idea of how Powerman started which was to create this band that didn’t have any hang-ups about exploring their musical territory… Being open to whatever. Adam is definitely the kind of guy that I can come to one day and say “Lets write some new songs” and he’ll say “Cool, let’s do it” and the next day I can ask to write some super fast hardcore songs and he’ll say “Cool, lets do it.” The rhythm section of the band is still the two new guys, Ziggy and Adrian, who came in on the last record and really infused new life and blood into the band. It was definitely needed.
MI: Tell us about the days of MC Spider back in Boston and how your music has evolved from that.
Spider: I grew up listening to hardcore punk rock and my alter ego was always being into Hip-Hop. I moved to Boston straight out of high school and went to art school, didn’t really fit in there, dropped out of art school and I just wanted to make music but I didn’t know anybody. Starting a band seemed like an impossible thing for me. I wasn’t entrenched in the music scene yet, didn’t know anybody, so I said “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself” and borrowed a 4-track and a turntable and tried some beats together. In the back of my mind I always longed for the power of rock and metal and ultimately knew I was getting back to that when I found the right people and that’s what happened.
MI: What do you want people to know about you?
Spider: I think that our fans and the kids that follow what I do pretty closely have a good idea what I’m all about. They know that I’m border line workaholic and control freak, that I love what I do, and that I love every aspect of it.
MI: Why did you start up Megatronic again and what type of bands are you looking for to be on the label?
Spider: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it didn’t work out with Dreamworks. When Dreamworks dissolved last year our band found ourselves at a crossroad and we didn’t know what to do. I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of the major record label system and have a good following, so we started the label up again and hopefully it will be successful enough to where I can bring in some new acts.
MI: Tell me about the first band on the label Half Cocked.
Spider: They were such a great band, they’re not a band anymore, and they were the first band I brought to Megatronic when it was still apart of Dreamworks. I heard of them years ago and I have their first record and it didn’t really do much for me. Then a friend of mine sent me their 2nd record and I couldn’t believe where it had gone since I heard the first one. It was super energetic with 3 girls and 2 guys writing aggressive songs.
MI: Why didn’t you guys jump to Universal when Dreamworks collapsed?
Spider: They didn’t ask. It’s one of those really bizarre things that you never know the answer to. Powerman 5000 was the number one licensed band for Dreamworks records. We made the most money than anybody else on their label. We were their first platinum record and they were becoming a laughing stock of the industry because they were run by some of the biggest names in the history of music and they couldn’t get a hit record. My attitude towards it was I didn’t want to fight and scratch my way to be apart of something that didn’t ask us to be there.
MI: When you were in art school what were you studying before you dropped out?
Spider: Fine Arts. I was going to do an overview of painting, printmaking, stuff like that… Originally I always leaned towards commercial art, but my dream was to make a comic book. My passion was to be in a band and I always thought that I could paint when I’m 80 years old but I can’t rock when I’m 80, so I might as well lay out my priorities now.
MI: Who does your album covers?
Spider: I’ve done all of them from the beginning.
MI: How did you get the nickname Spider?
Spider: Before Powerman I started a band called Spider Baby and it was based on a horror movie. At the time Rob was starting White Zombie.
MI: If you could design an exhibit for Powerman 5000 to be put up in the Smithsonian Institute what would it look like?
Spider: I think it would be a series of different rooms to reflect the different phases of the band. I’ve been wanting to do a live show that is based on all the different phases. The first room would be in the old days, the do it yourself vibe. The next room would be the futuristic vibe where we could actually play out some of the things we could never afford being a local band… Having customized clothes made. The last room would probably resemble the first room. I feel like we’re getting back to where we started where we’re tearing down the artificial nature of the band and getting back to the reality of it.
MI: If you could be a super hero who would it be?
Spider: Considering Spider-Man is making billions at the box office and if Spider-Man made even a cut of that then I would be him.
MI: There are 326 dead Russians as a result of a school siege, half of them were children… What are your thoughts on this?
Spider: It’s horrific. I’m a new parent, I have a son now. When I see things like that now they take on a completely different level of seriousness. When you’re a lot younger and you don’t have any kids a lot of that stuff flies by you because you feel immortal and nothing matters to you. When I see something like that now I become a lot more empathetic.
MI: What do you think the most important moment in the history of Powerman was?
Spider: To me, some of the seemingly smaller moments were much bigger to me. I think the first time I unexpectedly heard a Powerman song on the radio, because you realize now things are happening and it’s working without you always having to do it.
MI: What is in your CD player right now?
Spider: I just bought The Who’s Greatest hits and a collection of Minor Threat records.
MI: Name 5 songs that you find affects your fans live.
Spider: There’s the old standards that always work because of the aspect of being so familiar with them; When Worlds Collide, Nobody’s Real, Free… We’ve recently started to play a song called Bombshell which was off Anyone For Doomsday record. That song has taken on this cool, in the know, kind of vibe that gets the crowd in a frenzy. There’s another aspect when we play old songs and people respond because they’ve known it for so long.
MI: What do you think makes Powerman the most important band out there?
Spider: I would never say that. I don’t think we are the most important rock band out there. You always start out thinking that somehow or someway you will end up being the next Beatles and generally that doesn’t happen. If I can just be apart of everything and be important to a handful of kids then I’m happy.
MI: What would you suggest as a first CD to a new Powerman fan?
Spider: That’s a tough one because their all so different. I would suggest buying our first CD and go from there. Learn the history and the timeline.
MI: Are you guys going to make any videos for the new album?
Spider: There’s no plans to only because it involves old members of the band that are no longer members any more. I suppose we could probably put together some great old footage and put out a video… If we make a video at all it will probably be something low-key.
MI: What is the next project you guys are going to be working on?
Spider: A new record that we’re shooting for release in Spring of 2005. We’re putting songs on video games. One of them is WWE video game. It will feature 3 brand new songs from us.
MI: If your fans could do one thing for you what would it be?
Spider: I never really thought of the aspect of asking the band for anything other than approaching everything that we do with an open mind.
MI: What advice would you give to any new band entering the industry?
Spider: I think the biggest mistake that most young bands make is that they work towards the goal of getting a major record deal. The problem is that they think if they achieve it then they’re done. They don’t realize that in fact that is when you have to work harder. The people at the record label are not going to be nearly as passionate about your band as you are.
MI: Name 5 artists that you think have been massively short changed by the music industry over the years.
Spider: I always find a lot of British bands that don’t translate over here because American kids don’t get the sensibility of British music a lot of times. Some of my favorite bands are more poppy bands like Blur and Supergrasp. They’re really huge in Europe but they can’t get the time of day in America.
MI: Tell me about the most memorable show you played live.
Spider: They all have their moments. I remember being on tour in the Summer of 2001 on Metalica’s Summer of Sanitarium tour and these were crowds that we’ve never seen before. These were consistently 50 to 60,000 people each day. I remember asking the crowd to do something for me, like when this song kicks in everyone jump. When I saw every single kid respond I felt like it was one of those out of body experiences.
MI: Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Spider: I remember sleeping and my mother leaving me this very bizarre phone message. I go to my TV and turn it on and I’m looking at the New York sky line with no World Trade Center. I was in disbelief, and I was sad and angry. It took a long time for your body chemistry to get back to normal. We were editing a video in a tall building in L.A. And a helicopter flew by the window and everyone of us jumped up scared.
MI: If you could design a memorial for the victims of 9-11 what would it be?
Spider: I don’t know if I could come up with a fitting tribute. I would certainly consult with people who were directly affected by it. I would talk to the families of the victims.
MI: Do you believe in psychics?
Spider: I’ve never consulted one so I can’t say whether I do or not.
MI: Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Spider: I’ve never seen a ghost but I’ve had some strange things happen where you have to wonder about it.
MI: Have you ever inhaled marijuana?
MI: What do you think about the legalization of it?
Spider: I’m all for it. I don’t smoke weed now but I’m all for legalizing it.
MI: What do you find that fuels your own creativity?
Spider: Usually it works on two levels. There’s direct inspiration where I’m listening to a record or watching a great movie and it inspires me to be creative and try to reach a certain goal. Then there’s indirect things that hit you. I can write a song and then when I’m done I have no idea where the song came from.
MI: If there was a movie made about your life who would you want to play your part and what would you want the theme song to be?
Spider: Playing the part of me would be difficult because their aren’t that many actors quite as handsome as me. I’m one of those guys that no one can ever figure out who would play me. The theme song would be Rebel Yell by Billy Idol.
MI: Tell me a joke.
Spider: I don’t know any jokes.
MI: If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring one book, one person, one CD, and one bottle of liquor, what would they be?
Spider: I would probably bring a blank book so I could actually do something with my time. I would bring my wife and my child. The CD would probably be London Calling by The Clash or Nevermind The Bollocks by The Sex Pistols. I would bring a bottle of red wine.
MI: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Spider: I like the idea of it but I can’t say that I believe in it. If I did I would like to have been someone that lived some ridiculously dangerous and violent lifestyle.
MI: If you could bring back anyone from the dead who would it be?
Spider: I would bring back Johnny Ramone.
MI: Do you ever see you and Rob working together again?
Spider: I’d like to. It would be fun to work on something non musical now that he’s working on movies. We’ve done little things together but never actually collaborated on anything big.
MI: What do you think the best thing to happen to Rock N Roll was?
Spider: Punk Rock.
MI: What Punk Rock bands have influenced your career?
Spider: I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts where everyone was listening to Journey… I discovered The Ramones, and The Clash, and The Sex Pistols and it was just like the entire world opened up to me and there were these attitudes.
MI: What do you consider your greatest achievement of all time?
Spider: That professionally I beat the system in many ways and that I somehow being this guy that had no training in music and no knowledge of what the hell I was doing I somehow have done what I have done for this many years.
MI: If you had a million dollars to donate to charity what charity would it be?
Spider: I can only relate to things from my own personal life and I’ve had family members pass from cancer so I would probably lean towards that sort of a charity.
MI: Tell me about the worst job you’ve ever had.
Spider: One summer I got a job working at an amusement park beach and I painted temporary tattoos on people. The must horrific drunk beat would come in and want me to paint a hear on her inner thigh. It was awful.
MI: If you could have lunch with anybody, living or dead, who would it be?
Spider: I would probably go musical and pick some of my heroes from back in the day like the drummer from The Clash and Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols.
MI: What pisses you off most about the world today?
Spider: More and more it seems like everything is a bunch of bullshit. Nothing is real, every motivation for anything anyone does has an ulterior motive. No one seems to care about anything anymore. Everyone is out for a quick buck.
MI: What do you think the difference is between the old MTV and the new MTV?
Spider: One actually played music and the other one doesn’t. Everyone complains that they don’t play music anymore, which is true and I have a problem with this, but they do have some good original programming. I’m not necessarily down on them for doing that. The thing I see as being an issue, and I say this as a hip hop fan, is that MTV has become an R&B and Hip Hop channel. I think what happened is in the early days they were an all rock channel and they got accused of being racist and not playing black music and I think now that they’re so hypersensitive to that so they overcompensate. Instead of having the token rap video they used to throw in every once in a while it’s now the token rock video they throw in everyone once in a while.
MI: If you were God for a week what would you change?
Spider: Lots of things. I would start with my bank account. I would add a few more zeros to it. The laundry list is too long…
MI: What do you think of the US involvement in the Middle East?
Spider: It’s a disaster that maybe wasn’t a disaster in theory but has become what will ultimately be the biggest problem in our lifetime. I think it’s been handled in such a cowboy way… I think it was all done for personal reasons and not practical reasons.
MI: Where do you see Powerman and Megatronic five years from now?
Spider: I don’t know if Powerman will exist in five years… I say that now but in five years I’ll probably be stepping on stage somewhere. Every time I think I can stop doing it, something pulls me back in.
MI: What’s your favorite book or writer?
Spider: I love Bukowski and I love books about the creative process-how things are done.
MI: If you could send a message to George W. what would it be?
Spider: I would say we all realize that you’re full of shit, we all know that you’re lying, and we all know how insecure you are, so please start owning up.
MI: What message would you like to send to your fans?
Spider: I would like to say thanks for the loyalty and the inspiration. They’re definitely a big part of why we’re here. Take the spirit of the band and try to use it and hopefully it will inspire people to do things.
MI: When is the new website coming up for Powerman?
Spider: Hopefully within the next few weeks.
MI: What is your favorite movie?
Spider: I love the movie Jaws. I used to tape record it off of HBO. I loved Taxi Driver. I also loved the first Alien movie.
MI: What’s your favorite quote of all time?
Spider: I don’t know, you stumped me.
Yeah right I stumped you! You were just trying to make me feel good. Thank you for the interview Spider. We cover you a lot because the staff and readers here at Music Incider think that you are fucking great. -Get yourself a record off of Megatronic, there aren’t too many Indie labels left.