Duds Milk Misfortune In Making Debut Album

Album finished only after they lost their original name, an early master of the album and had equipment stolen.

The Duds' first album, 3 Lumps or 4, couldn't be more aptly titled.

In the two years before the album's late-'98 release, the San Francisco trio took some

lumps of their own, suffering a theft of their gear, a threatened lawsuit over their name,

the erasure of an early version of the album and irreconcilable differences with a

producer.

"I don't know if we create our own luck or what," singer/guitarist Matt Strickland, 25, said.

"It seems like from day one this stuff has happened. Someone ripped off all our

equipment. ... They came back the next day and stole the rest of the mic stands, my clock

-- everything was gone."

Although the misfortunes served as inspiration for some of the songs on the record,

going through them was no picnic.

Chocolate manufacturer Hershey threatened to slap the group with a lawsuit, claiming

the band's original name -- the Milkduds -- was too similar to the Hershey brand Milk

Duds. So they changed it to the Duds.

The master tapes of the album were erased when Strickland walked through the X-ray

machine at a Florida airport on his return from mixing the album.

It seemed for a while as if the Duds couldn't buy a break.

But now they're hearing the end product on the radio.

"It's rewarding to hear it stand up to the tunes around it," bassist Andrew Thomas, 27,

said.

Thomas heard the album's first single, the funk-flavored "Bust," on San Francisco's Live

105. "Before they played it, they played the new Korn tune and then 'Bust' and then after

that the Smashing Pumpkins, so it's like it belongs," he said.

The Duds -- who also include drummer Will Strickland, Matt's brother -- formed in 1995

and played their first gig opening for '70s hard rockers Blue Oyster Cult at the Catalyst in

Santa Cruz, Calif. They spent a couple of years making the rounds of local clubs before

hooking up with producer Tony Battaglia (Matchbox 20) to record an album.

But after a disagreement over the final mix of the album, they bought the rights to the

master tapes from their label, Colossal (distributed by TVT), and took over the

production.

The resulting album, which they released on their own, boasts a variety of sounds, from

the David Bowie-styled vocals of "Thy Promised Land" (RealAudio

excerpt) to the teeth-rattling rock of "Into June." The revenge fantasy "My My My" was

inspired by the theft of the band's gear.

Matt Strickland said he lived in the band's studio for weeks during the recording, looking

for the right combination of amps or just the right effect to accent the guitar-driven rock of

such songs as "Mutt Language" (RealAudio excerpt) and

"Slop

Shop" (RealAudio excerpt).

He said the latter song is "almost a backlash at how everything had to be so

underground. Since everything is so underground, I'm going to write a totally pop tune

that's just so pop it's sickening, with a poppy little chorus and noisy guitars and really

poppy smooth vocals over that."

A "Slop Shop," he said, is "like a chop shop. They take pieces from one thing and put

them on something else."