The Flys' Sound Attracts Swarms Of Listeners

Hollywood quintet is creating national hum with a twisted mix of soul, punk rock, reggae and metal.

At 28, Adam Paskowitz plays in a rock band, loves to surf and dates "the hottest girl in the world."

Typical twentysomething lifestyle, right? Wrong.

Paskowitz, the lanky, tattooed singer for Hollywood natives the Flys, has something that most others his age don't: a debut single that's creating a national buzz.

After "Got You (Where I Want You)" (RealAudio excerpt), from his band's full-length debut, Holiday Man, was added to the on-air rotation by a cluster of high-profile radio stations two months ago, nearly 60 stations followed suit. Last week, the song inched its way into the Radio and Records Top 20, with more than 1,500 spins nationwide.

Not bad for a guy who claims he still lives in his van.

"It kind-of hit me when we played 'A Day in the Garden' a few weeks ago," Paskowitz explained, referring to the recent festival at the original Woodstock site in Bethel, N.Y. "And to see what's happening on radio . . . It's just fantastic to see that happening after so many years of just staying alive."

"Got You (Where I Want You)" -- which has also been picked as the lead single from the soundtrack of the flick "Disturbing Behavior" -- made its appearance as the first single from Holiday Man, a twisted mix of soul, punk rock, reggae and metal that hit stores last month.

Paskowitz and his brother Joshua, the Flys' vocalist/rhymist, met bassist James Book, drummer Nicky Lucero and guitarist Peter Perdischizzi when they were all teenagers -- right after the singer moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Heavy metal was exploding, and now -- nearly two decades later -- Paskowitz credits the scene as his impetus for entering rock 'n' roll.

"I was 12 years old in Madison Square Garden," Paskowitz said, "and Mötley Crüe opened for Ozzy [Osbourne]. After that, I just friggin' lost it. I've been trying every form of metal for the past 10 years, and nine years ago, I met James. We played awhile, then I just went back to surfing."

Five years later, they reconvened as the Flys, adding Joshua to the mix. The Flys released a mini EP called 25 Cents and saw their song "Gods of Basketball" (RealAudio excerpt) gain airplay on such L.A. outlets as Y107 and KROQ. Major labels started to swarm around the Flys, and a year later, the band landed on Trauma Records subsidiary Delicious Vinyl.

Since then, Trauma has taken charge of the Flys' fly-by-night fortune.

"When we met all these labels, Rob [Kahane, Trauma president] was the main guy that seemed to have his act together," Paskowitz said. Our relationship with him is totally nonprofessional: whether or not I take his advice, I get my choice. He never asks us to do anything we truly don't want to do.

"He was like, 'You can mess around, or you can start this minute.' But we'd waited enough. We got right to it."

Two years later, the end result, Holiday Man, flavors its schizy sonic mix with an intermingling of Joshua Paskowitz's raps and guitarist Perdischizzi's thick, brooding guitar slicings. On most of the tracks, Adam's voice has an unusual tinge, thanks to a homemade vocal effect apparatus dubbed "The Paskowitz Nebulizer." It creates an otherworldy effect, something like the sound of high-pitched Alice in Chains crooner Layne Stayley in an echo chamber, or Perry Farrell growling on helium.

"I've always had this problem turning over your sound to a sound guy, and he'd choose it all," Paskowitz noted. "So, early on, I just started adjusting my sound with different boxes, and it's gotten to the point now where it's really a definable machine."

Trauma Records A&R coordinator Kate Dear says creating a national buzz around the Flys is a top priority.

"If you hear the song, that's what led us to signing the Flys," Dear said. "And once we heard the depth of the album, it sealed up the deal right there. That was pretty much all you needed. You hear the song, and it's a smash."

It seems fans couldn't agree more. They've started camping outside the band's hotels, according to Paskowitz, who says he doesn't mind the pressures of being popular.

"We don't have a day job," he said. "There are so many bands with really big singles, and you don't even know who's in the band. And for us, it seems to be the exact opposite." Case in point: as Paskowitz drove home from his girlfriend's house a few nights back, a minivan filled with girls started honking furiously -- so much so that he pulled over.

"There were five teen-aged girls in a minivan with their mom, and it was like one in the morning," he laughed. "And they're like, 'Hey! We saw you on MTV!' And I was like, 'No you didn't.' But they knew.

"But you either deal with the teens, or you die," Paskowitz mused. "My girlfriend's a teen-ager, everyone I know is a teen-ager, my family's got a surf camp that's teen-age-oriented. I'm just myself. There's a gene -- your band either has that gene, or it does not. You're gonna get the fans you get. And teens will make or break you. If you don't believe that, you're just stupid. Fans are what this is all about."