Every punk and metal band screams in rage and anguish. Los Angeles bruisers S.T.U.N. don't just scream, they Scream Towards the Uprising of Nonconformity. It's what the letters in their name stand for, and it's clearly the type of motivational political stuff they represent.
Sometimes, when a band wants to show just how gosh darned dedicated it is to such an ambitious goal, the tariff must be paid in blood. S.T.U.N. made such a gesture at a Dallas show in May when, during the second to last song in the set, vocalist Christane J. climbed the bass drum, then leapt off. At the same time, bassist Nick S. was swinging his bass around, and one of his tuning pegs made full contact with the singer's forehead.
"My head split and blood poured down my face," said Christiane. "It was kind of like slow motion up until it happened. Then it just felt surreal and weird. I felt fine, there was just blood everywhere."
Even with the deep gash, the singer finished the show, and then rushed to a hospital, where he received 10 stitches. "I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often because I'm always climbing and jumping all over the place," Christiane said. "When I was growing up, I would go to see bands and I was just so bored, and I remember thinking, 'If I ever get a chance to be up there, I would do something creative or something people would remember.' "
Christiane got his opportunity three years ago when he placed a "musicians wanted" ad and guitarist and songwriter Neil Spies responded. The singer's dramatic flair meshed well with Spies' political rhetoric and the seeds of revolution were planted. After recruiting Nick and drummer Bobby Alt, S.T.U.N. began to blossom.
The band's recently released debut, Evolution of Energy, is packed with musically abrasive songs that combine Refused-style punk progressions with the polemics of Rage Against the Machine and the flamboyance and positivity of Jane's Addiction.
"It's a celebratory statement of what's possible," said Spies, who pens all the lyrics. "Everybody can be fearless in creating their own thoughts and becoming everything they want to be. I think revolution is life. When somebody brings in something new and you've gone to a different place, you're alive. When you're stuck in a rut, you're not. And I think the world we live in sometimes forces us to be in a rut."
S.T.U.N.'s first single, "Annihilation of the Generations," succinctly sums up Spies' socialist-style manifesto, which he adopted after the works of Noam Chomsky, Daniel Quinn and others.
" 'Annihilation of the Generations' is about people not paying attention to how many people have it worse off than them in the world," he explained. "Those numbers are going to build, and when they come into the neighborhoods of the naïve, then they have to pay attention. We may be heading on a road to extinction if we keep not paying attention and not learning about other people and keep trying to control them."
Spies wrote the song based on a personal revelation. Like most punk rockers, he grew up feeling inadequate and underprivileged, but rather than mope about it, he made the best of the situation.
"I'd think about all the millions of people that had it worse off then me," he said. "There's always somebody in more pain or with less love. People have to stop always wanting more because that's not the key to happiness."
Like famed author/activist Michael Moore and Rage Against the Machine, S.T.U.N. believe capitalism kills. Only by evening the playing field, argues Spies, can society end the war that exists between the rich and poor in this country. Not only does he believe that materialism is shallow, he's convinced that it's a vehicle to a life of unhappiness.
"I think if you were to be completely rich and have everything you could have in this world, if everyone around you didn't have it also, sooner or later you'd be lonely and bitter," said Spies. "There's enough resources in this world. There's enough space for everybody to live like a king. People need to ask themselves why that's not happening."