Interview with Spider One of Powerman 5000

Did you have a fun Halloween this year?

Yeah, we played. We’ve actually been on the road the past two or three Halloweens and it’s generally a pretty spectacular night for us.

You guys don’t really have to dress up.

I feel like my life is pretty much Halloween 365 days a year. It’s not like we dust off the horror movies for Halloween. The movies are pretty much running all the time.

Tell us a bit about your upcoming T.V. show.

I just sold an original scripted series to MTV called Death Valley. It’s a horror comedy show that pits cops against monsters in the San Fernando Valley of California. We begin shooting in January and we’re hoping to have the first episode on air in the Spring of next year. It was my first time ever trying to pitch a television series. To be able to get it on the air is pretty much like winning the lottery. [laughs]

It didn’t have to be a reality T.V. show? I’m surprised.

Well, to MTV’s credit, they’re really making an effort to change the perception of the channel and put together a bunch of scripted shows. I know they’ve sort of made their mark as a reality show channel, but they really want to start to put together some cool scripted shows like HBO.

How involved will you be in the project?

Really involved, I’ll be one of the producers. I won’t be directing anything this season, but my hands will be in all elements of it. T.V. is a much different beast than music. Music is very small; it’s just you and your band. If you want to change the set list one night, you just go and change the set list. To change a character’s name in a television show will be like four weeks of discussion. It’s a very different process that I’m adjusting to.

Are you still influenced by old movies these days?

It’s interesting. The band has always been influenced by movies and television. I’ve said it from day one, I don’t really consider myself a musician — in the technical terms. I’ve been in a band for all these years, but I’m more of a visual person. So, all those things come into play. You know, you just draw from your influences. Generally, for me it tends to be a more gritty 1970s realistic vibe.

I heard that you’re working on a cover album. How far along is it?

We are working on that, but it’s not going to be the next official release. We’re just doing that in parallel with writing some new original stuff. We were approached to do some cover tunes and it sounded like a fun thing. It’s a way to stay creative and keep working. It seems like making an original album is an easy process, but it isn’t. It takes a long time and sometimes you get burnt out. So, to have this other project to go to will be a cool and creative release that’s a little bit easier. We’re going to be doing both at the same time. We’re starting to write new songs to hopefully get out early next year. I’m not interested in necessarily waiting now until we have an entire album done. You know, if you’ve got a cool song, put it out. We’ll stagger it through the year and test the waters with people and see what they respond to and what they don’t.

Good idea. It’s all about singles these days.

Yeah, I think there’s a tendency to lean towards the singles game, where people are interested in individual songs and they can pick and choose what they want. You used to have no choice. If you liked a song, you had to buy the entire album.


Being a guy that’s sort of living in both worlds, I remember when it was one way and now it’s an entirely different way. I have a fondness for the album format. But also, you can’t fight the future. There’s something intriguing about putting out songs randomly. And, people are very distracted nowadays. There was a time when you were a kid and music would be all you cared about. You had the attention of people, fully. Now that’s not the case. So, it’s understandable that people wouldn’t necessarily devote the time it takes to live with an entire album. If you offer them a three minute song, that’s a reasonable amount of time for them to dedicate to check it out.

And then it has to be a really good song to keep your interest.

Yeah, that’s the other thing as well. If you’re gonna put out individual songs, they all better be pretty good. We’re just gonna make it up as we go. [laughs] That’s what they music industry is now. There are no rules anymore.

Are you writing any new material on tour?

We never do. We always say we’re going to, but we never do. That’s the joke of touring. You have an endless amount of downtime and the plan is always to write on the road, but you end up watching dumb movies and sleeping too long. Or, going to the mall instead of writing a song. [laughs]

What new songs have you been playing on the road?

We’ve been playing our song “Horror Show” a lot which is on the latest album. And, it’s really been one of the coolest moments of the show. You definitely learn a lot on the road and what direction to go on the next album.

Right. So, the new album will have an electronic-metal sound I assume.

Yeah. I think we’re all really happy where we ended up with ‘Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere.’ We kinda got back to what we do best and what the band likes the most. Those new songs have really recharged the enthusiasm for kids that are into the band. So, it’ll be a good jumping off point for the new record. We never tend to repeat. After all these years of experimenting and trying things — at least in my mind — what we’re doing now is what we do best. There will be new things, but the foundation will remain in that electronic-metal feeling.

I’m sure we’ll see some new music videos directed by you this time too.

Yeah, I think that’s going to absolutely be the case. There are various reasons why I’ll just hand the position off to someone else, but then I’m always kicking myself about two hours into the process. [laughs]

Last but not least, Zoolander 2 is now in production. Powerman 5000, of course, contributed a song to the original Zoolander film back in 2001. Are you hoping to contribute again?

[Laughs] Yeah, that would be fun. My fingers are crossed, but I won’t hold my breath. That’s one of those things that when we did it it seemed like such a toss off, but that movie has gone on to be one of those cult classics that everyone quotes. Looking back on that, it was a really cool thing that we ended up being a part of.

Pick up Powerman 5000’s latest record Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere and check out their upcoming tour dates:

Nov 13 Machine Shop Flint, MI
Nov 14 Peabody’s Cleveland, OH
Nov 16 Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH
Nov 17 Cubby Bear Chicago, IL
Nov 18 Mojo’s Columbia, MO
Nov 19 THE RAVE Milwaukee, WI
Nov 20 Spicoli’s Waterloo, IA

  • RudiBettega

    Powerman 5000…. great band :)