Should you harbor any illusions that Sloth are as lazy as their name implies, consider their summer of ’99. After toiling on a crowded L.A. club scene, the quartet—restless and anxious to take their amp-taxing act on the road—came up with one hell of an escape plan. “We decided to join the Warped Tour,” recalls guitarist Kristo Panos. There was, however, one small problem: they weren’t invited. “That didn’t stop us,” laughs Panos. “We bought a generator and a shitty old Astro Van, which had holes in the roof. We packed it with equipment—which got wet every time it rained—and followed the tour from town to town. We’d set up in the parking lots and play to people as they were going in. Over the course of a few weeks, we played for thousands of people.” Midway through the tour, main stage artist Ice-T caught Sloth’s set and brought them in from the cold. Says Kristo, “He asked the festival’s organizer, Kevin Lyman,” who was already a fan having booked the band in ’97 and ’98 to play on some of the local L.A. and regional Warped dates, “to let us play the second stage. Kevin agreed to give us a shot and we became part of the show for the rest of the tour. We were grateful for the opportunity and made the most of it.” Did Sloth—whose ear-seizing sound is heavy and eclectic and draws on influences ranging from Black Sabbath and Jane’s Addiction to Tool and old-world Greek bouzouki music—have a tough time winning over the predominantly punk and ska crowd? “Amazingly enough, we went over really well,” adds vocalist Richard Love. “The whole experience was pretty unbelievable.” While most young rock bands usually balk at legwork, the blue-collar Sloth-ers—Panos, vocalist Love, bassist Andrew Kowatch and drummer Adam Figura—won’t hesitate to go the extra mile. For example, over the course of the past few years, the band has sold an impressive 10,000 copies of its first two self released CDs (22 and Acedia). What’s their sales approach? Says Kristo, “After a show, we’ll strap on backpacks filled with CDs and go into the crowd to sell them ourselves. We usually ask for $10 per disc, but wind up selling them for whatever people can afford. We do the same type of thing with t-shirts. Our attitude is, why do a show if you can’t leave any music behind?” Sloth emerged in ’95, with Panos, Love and Figura recording a handful of demos and sharpening their sound. In ‘97 the band recorded 22, produced by John Avila (Oingo Boingo). When the disc became a hot commodity on the underground trading post, they submitted it to a nationwide contest sponsored by Guitar Center, Musicians Institute and Disc Makers and proceeded to trounce several thousand competitors. Bassist Kowatch was brought into the group and second CD Acedia—which was completely funded by their contest winnings—was released in 1998. After their aforementioned “parking lot tour,” Lyman invited them back for a proper slot in 2001. Since then, the band has become a favorite fixture on the famed traveling road show, where they’ve shared stages with the likes of Deftones, Bad Religion and Pennywise. They’ve developed a rabid following throughout the southwest thanks to a dense and diversified guitar-driven sound that’s both punishing and pop-savvy (says Panos, “It’s classic-influenced rock with a modern feel”). Packed hometown crowds have seen them play with bands such as Papa Roach, Disturbed and Alien Ant Farm. The band recently inked a deal with Hollywood Records and is currently recording its label debut with producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Saliva). The highly anticipated album—to be titled Dead Generation—is scheduled for release in summer of 2003. Despite the signing, Panos insists Sloth will abide by an old-fashioned working-class ethic. "We just want to tour," he says. "There’s a sense of freedom that comes from being on the road and playing your music for new faces. That feeling of connecting with an audience is an amazing thing. I think a lot of bands get signed and automatically think they’re rock stars. When we got signed, our attitude was, ‘Okay, we just got a loan. Now we have the financial backing to do this the right way.’ Sure, we have some pretty lofty goals and have actually managed to meet a few of them. But we’re always setting new ones and I think that drive will keep us going. Our work is just getting started."