WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — Fred Durst, notorious for holding grudges, must have really seen something in the Revolution Smile, since he signed the Sacramento band to his Flawless Records even after their frontman turned down an invitation to play with Limp Bizkit.
Or maybe it was because he turned them down.
"They must have wondered why I didn't jump at an opportunity like that, 'cause let's face it, that's an opportunity," said singer/guitarist Shaun Lopez, formerly of post-hardcore band Far. "But I just really believed in this band more than the world. And they probably wanted to know why I was turning something down like that, so they wanted to hear the band. I sent them the music, and about a week later they watched us play and that was pretty much it."
Lopez, along with guitarist Tim McCord, bassist Octavio Gallardo and drummer Jeremy White, formed the Revolution Smile two years ago to lead their own revolution against music they felt sounded all too familiar.
"We take the spirit of Jane's Addiction or Led Zeppelin or Smashing Pumpkins or whatever, but we don't rip off those bands. We take the spirit and apply it to ourselves," a sweat-drenched Lopez said after a recent show at the Viper Room. "A lot of bands don't do that; they take the sound of a band. The masses are asses. They like to hear something familiar. They don't like to be challenged."
Which leads Lopez to volunteer his opinion on what Rolling Stone called "the return of rock," led by the Vines, the Hives and the Strokes. "[It's] a joke," he said. "That's not rock. Something that happened in 1991, that was the return of rock if there ever was a return of rock. Last year was cool, but it's not real. There's nothing dangerous about those bands. They might be good bands, but they're not taking any chances. I believe this band is taking chances."
All of this is made more interesting by the fact that Lopez and his cohorts are looking to Durst to lead them on their revolution (see "Durst's New Flawless Signing Is Revolution-ary"). Durst is, after all, the man credited with making rap-rock mainstream, collaborating with both Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears along the way.
"At first we were pretty hesitant," Lopez admitted. "When you know someone's persona in the media, you don't really know the person that they are. I guess I never pictured Fred Durst liking our band, but he does and that's all that matters."
Durst endorsing the Revolution Smile is even more ironic considering the group was formerly signed to Buddyhead Records, a Sacramento indie known for a rumor mill Web site that frequently mocks Durst and has even posted his phone number.
"They didn't do much for us but talk about us on their little Web site, and that's just not enough for me," Lopez said. "I need dedication. I need somebody who's going to back up my music, 'cause my music is above all that. It's above their little Web site and above their little gossip. And in the end we just thought we don't want to be associated with people that aren't going to kill for us."
The Revolution Smile's music mixes elements of hardcore, emo and metal but is best described as hard rock — the same thing you might say about Tool, Helmet or Quicksand, a group Lopez briefly played in.
The band has released two independent records, and the Revolution Smile's Flawless debut, Above the Noise, is due in the spring. David Sardy (Marilyn Manson, Helmet) produced it, and Andy Wallace (Korn, Nirvana) is mixing it. Durst hasn't touched the music.
"He's a good mixture of hands-off and hands-on," Lopez said. "He's there when we need him if something needs to get done or something needs to get approved, but he believes in this band and doesn't want to alter it in any way, and that's the way a record label should be run. Unfortunately, 80 percent of labels aren't run that way, and that's why music is in the state it's in right now."
The Revolution Smile spent some of last year touring with label mates Puddle of Mudd, but Lopez doesn't expect to be an opening act much longer.
"I saw Nirvana open for Red Hot Chili Peppers. They wore socks on their ... things, and at the time weren't the most credible band. But after [Nirvana] played, no one cared. That's what we want to do. We want to make the band after us scared."