Sneaker Pimps Finding The Groove In America

The notion that for techno bands to truly break big in America they need to

tour and present exciting live personalities has now been spinning around like a 12-inch single with a lock groove end.

And the Sneaker Pimps are looking to get right on it.

"For the audience, it's good to see who's making the music, to know

people are making the music," said singer Kelli Dayton by telephone

from San Francisco at the start of the band's U.S. tour. She said that techno music has begun to move away from anonymous remix records in plain white labels.

Worn though it may be, the idea of breaking America through a colorful tour has merit. The Prodigy, whose The Fat Of The Land has done better State-side than any other electronica release, have long been a sensation abroad with their live shows, and have begun establishing a forceful presence in America.

Sneaker Pimps are now following on the Prodigy's heels as another techno

outfit that refuses to lose ground with U.S. listeners by remaining a

faceless studio entity. The band recently began their third American tour

in eight months to promote their debut Becoming X, along with the modern rock hit "6 Underground."

"It's now getting back to the band thing," the 22-year-old Dayton said. "And America is one of the places that has always needed that personality, to put a face to who's making the music. I'm much happier with the dance music and

techno now that the interesting people are coming out of it."

As "6 Underground" has been garnering notice on U.S. shores, Sneaker Pimps

songwriter Liam Howe said that the American success of the Prodigy is

exciting. But he added, "Having said that I don't really feel part of a

British invasion or anything tawdry like that. I don't think we'd ever

want to be associated with any sort of vague nationalism."

According to Howe, 26, Sneaker Pimps have found themselves at a new

juncture, where Americans are more willing to take a chance on unheard

foreign music, even though they continue to ignore homegrown artists in the

same field. "I always feel there's a slight English bias in America.

Which is sometimes worrying, because America produced so many pioneer dance people, but sometimes never seemed to acknowledge the Carl Craigs out of Detroit. In that sense, I would say yeah, they're more up for it now."

Although Sneaker Pimps' current tour will be interrupted briefly by a jaunt

to Australia, the band plans to hit U.S. clubs for about two months ("Just

enough to do one small corner of Texas," joked Howe), which is longer than

either of their previous outings. Howe called U.S. tours "dead important,"

because of the size of the country and also because of the lack of a

BBC-styled national radio station.

And making an impact here is a challenge he said he and the other band members are happy to undertake. "America is still a very, very alien place for us, purely in terms of scale," Howe said. "It's a massive cultural head-fuck for us. It's that part of touring that makes it enjoyable and acceptable." [Wed., Sept. 3, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]