Powerman 5000 Spy Retro-Future On New Album

Hard-rockers bring sci-fi to the hi-fi with chart-climbing disc; current tour to link up with Kid Rock.

For Powerman 5000 vocalist Spider, the future ain't what it used to be.

At least that's the theme the platinum-headed vocalist sees running

through his band's sci-fi-influenced new album, the hard-rocking

Tonight the Stars Revolt!

"This sort of dismal experience, this 'Bladerunner'-esque thing," is

how Spider (born Mike Cummings) described the vision of the future in

current pop culture. "I kept going back to all these old '50s sci-fi

movies and '30s and '40s stories and there's a completely different

view of what the future was about, and a much more positive outlook.

And I thought that was such a cool place to come from, because no one

thinks like that anymore.

"So in a weird way, I think that's what this album is like — sort

of an outdated view of the future," Spider added.

By that definition, Powerman 5000's own future could well conform to

the outdated, optimistic version. Tonight the Stars Revolt!

will land at the #34 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart

next week, up from the #52 position. And the LP's first single,

"When Worlds Collide" (RealAudio excerpt), is

currently at #13 on Radio & Records' active rock chart and

at #23 on the trade magazine's alternative chart.

The band — whose other members use the numbered stage names

Adam 12 and M.33 (both on guitar), Dorian 27 (bass) and

Al 3 (drums) — is touring and will converge with Kid Rock for a

joint outing beginning in mid-October.

Inspired by the 1951 sci-fi movie of the same name,

"When Worlds Collide" loosely refers to the film's plot — as an

asteroid shoots toward the earth, leaders decide who will be allowed

to survive the collision by escaping to another planet. The

hard-rocking number features the yell-along chorus,

"Are you ready? Let's go!/ 'Cause I'm ready, let's go/

What you gonna do baby, baby/ Are you goin' with me?/ 'Cause I'm goin' with you/

That's the end of our time."

"When Worlds Collide" reflects Powerman 5000's effort to balance out

riff-driven aggressiveness with pop hooks — which, according to

Spider, was a tricky dichotomy to maintain. At one point

Powerman 5000 wrapped up work on the album, believing they were

finished, but realized the album focused too much on

aggressive-sounding material and lacked nab-you hooks.

The band returned to the studio to record five more songs, among

them "Supernova Goes Pop"

(RealAudio excerpt) and a

cover of the Cars' "Good Times Roll."

"I like heavy music, but I also like songs that lean to the

catchier, poppier side — you know, songs that stick in your head

and you can't get them out," said Spider, who cites his age as

"over 18 and under 30." "I think it's important to be able to do that.

And it's more difficult than you'd think. It's easier to write just a

really over-the-top, aggressive record than to actually write a

song with some structure."

But pop hooks don't take away from the band's potency, said Jessica

Division, assistant manager at Strawberries Records & Tapes outside

the band's hometown of Boston. She said the band has found an

"old horror-movie sound" on the album that offers fans something fresh.

"There's just a different sound to them, sort of like what

Rob Zombie does — that dark, chilling sound," she said,

referring to the industrial-rock solo artist and leader of White Zombie, who is Spider's brother.

"But people here have been following them for years and seem to like

them no matter what they do."

Zombie appears on the album, as do the other

guests, Ginger Fish (Marilyn Manson's drummer) and Limp Bizkit's DJ


With the album, Powerman 5000 seem poised to build on the strong

East Coast cult following they developed after releasing their 1994 EP

True Force and 1995 debut LP The Blood-Splat Rating System.

When it signed with Dreamworks in 1997, the band released a revamped

version of its full-length debut, titled Mega!! Kung Fu Radio.

Powerman North American Tour Dates:

Aug. 26; Providence, R.I.; Lupo's

Aug. 27; Hampton Beach, N.H.; Casino Ballroom

Aug. 28; Old Bridge, N.J.; Birch Hill

Aug. 29; Hartford, Conn.; Webster Theater

Aug. 31; Pontiac, Mich.; Clutch Cargo

Sept. 1; Chicago, Ill.; Riviera Theatre

Sept. 2; Milwaukee, Wis.; The Rave

Sept. 3; Rockford, Ill.; On the Waterfront

Sept. 4; Onalaska, Wis.; Omni Centre

Sept. 5; Cross Plains, Wis.; WJJO Rockstock

Sept. 8; Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; House of Blues

Sept. 9; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jannus Landing

Sept. 10; Myrtle Beach, N.C.; House of Blues

Sept. 11; Virginia Beach, Va.; GTE Virginia Beach

Sept. 12; Washington, D.C.; 9:30 Club

Sept. 13; Winston-Salem, Mass.; Ziggy's

Sept. 14; Spartanburg, S.C.; Ground Zero

With Kid Rock and DDT:

Oct. 20; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Wings Stadium

Oct. 22; Chicago, Ill.; Aragon Ballroom

Oct. 23; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Palace of Auburn Hills

Oct. 25; Toronto, Ontario; The Warehouse

Oct. 27; Lowell, Mass.; Tsongas Arena

Oct. 28; Philadelphia, Pa.; Electric Factory

Oct. 30; Fairfax, Va.; Patriot Center

Nov. 2; New York, N.Y.; Hammerstein Ballroom