When Powerman 5000 frontman Spider scrapped his band's last album just weeks before its release, it was because he was certain he no longer wanted PM5K to be an angry nü-metal band that sounded like brother Rob Zombie's group.
Finding his true calling was another story.
Spider wanted to tackle lots of different styles, including new wave-tinged punk, poppy industrial rock and anthemic metal, but he wasn't sure it would work. So he turned to his idols the Clash for artistic and philosophical inspiration and threw caution to the wind when writing Powerman's new album, Transform.
"Before I saw the Clash, the idea of being in a band didn't seem all that cool to me," Spider said. "They changed my world. Their record London Calling is one of my favorite albums, and it was all over the place. So in the spirit of that, I felt like it was OK to not have focus and jump from one genre to another."
After Joe Strummer died of a heart attack in December (see "Joe Strummer Of The Clash Dead At 50"), Spider became even more convinced that his decision to go with his gut and present something different than everything else on the charts was the right move.
"The day he died, I was searching for information about what happened, and the top story musically was that Fred Durst was dating Britney Spears," griped Spider. "That only fueled the fire to expose just how incredibly backwards we all are."
The title Transform reflects how the band's sound has shifted. Spider, however, views the name more as a call to arms for a nation of apathetic sheep.
"I'm asking the listeners to transform and think about themselves in a different way and defy whatever expectations society has put upon them," he said, revealing his subversive punk-rock ethos. "I feel like the only way you can win the battle with the bullsh-- of the world is by confusing the people around you."
"Free," the first single from Transform, is enjoying strong radio play across the country (see "Powerman 5000 Bury The Zombie And Transform Their Sound"). The track addresses the need to question authority, a point Spider hammers home again and again on "A Is for Apathy," "Theme to a Fake Revolution" and "Action," which will likely be the record's second single.
"People are much more apprehensive to question anything these days," Spider said. "I just feel that people have become afraid to tap into the rebellious spirit of youth. I don't know if that's because people figure they've got it good and there's no reason to rebel or question what's around them, but I don't feel that punk-rock spirit — that feeling of 'I don't fit in and I'm gonna make sure you realize I don't fit in, and I'm gonna do something about it.' I miss that and I want to bring it back."