Members: Adam O\'Rourke, Dave O\'Rourke, Jesse Fishman, Dean Woodward
POP MUSIC IS THE ENEMY
Most bands are like, "We're doing this for animals and their right to eat hay and fuck President Bush and the economy," scoffs 2Cents frontman/drummer extraordinaire Adam O'Rourke. "We're all about having a good time, and people know that. A lot of rock bands got away from that. They got away from having fun, breaking shit and tearing shit down. They're all about boring things."
"I'm not saying they're not important," he clarifies. "They're just important and boring."
Now don't go thinking you've got the Los Angeles punk-metal quartet (rounded out by bassist Jesse Fishman and guitarists Dean Woodward and Dave O'Rourke [Adam's older brother]) pegged as party animal throwbacks. Unlike today's scads of posturing pretty boys trying to cram the Extreme back into extreme music, these players can play. The unhinged abandon bulging from 2Cents' Gotizm/Atlantic debut, Lost At Sea, isn't just a product of talent, but relentless passion and commitment. The band isn't content with merely paying homage to the sordid sounds of their youth, but doing something original with them. You can hear it in the delay-soaked spaghetti western stomp of "The Mark of My Pen."
Or the technical metalcore-nodding picks of "Wired," which careen into breakneck punk chugging before the outfit ignites a triumphant chorus that's all their own.
Or the forlorn harmonics of "A Song for Darrell Abbott," replete with sorrowful melodies that conjure Layne Staley at his most empathetic and emotionally resonant.
Remember the days when kids actually had a favorite guitarist or drummer to wallpaper on their locker? When they'd nearly come to blows pitting that favorite against their friends'? Teens the world over can prepare for exhilaration and frustration when they hunker down and try to tab out Lost At Sea. 2Cents' hell-may-care attitude belies killer chops. Isn't that how it used to be with the best bands?
So yeah, maybe, O'Rourke's between-song banter makes the Diceman look like Cosby ("I can't wait 'til the songs are over so I can talk some shit to you!" he beams), but even at their most debauched, 2Cents' authenticity is obvious (these guys give a shit.) Otherwise, they wouldn't have name-checked slain Pantera shredder Dimebag Darrell in aforementioned universal lament "A Song for Darrell Abbott" specifically so his name would be repeated and remembered. Otherwise, they wouldn't devote entire songs to rail against the watering down of the punk culture they grew up with.
And otherwise, they wouldn't risk getting impaled with makeshift shivs while rocking maximum security youth correctional facilities across the country.
"I'm not looking to entertain child molesters," O'Rourke emphasizes. "The people who get to come actually have a chance to be rehabilitated. I think it's cool to be in a situation where you have the potential of people hating you. It's like, if you go out opening for other metal bands and everyone's got their big hoop earrings in and wearing their Avenged Sevenfold shirts, you're kind of shooting fish in a barrel. Why don't you drive up to a maximum security youth correctional facility where everyone's probably listening to Jay-Z and get on stage, play some metal for them, and try to win those people over? It's about challenging ourselves to win an uphill battle as opposed to just playing the average rock show and selling the t-shirts."
Crazy thing is, in a setting where they're a push of a button away from a tear gas tornado, 2Cents have a knack for, well, not soothing the most savage of beasts so much as connecting with their darkest emotions. Without violence. "I've seen kids who I wouldn't think in a million years would listen to our style of music throwing up horns and headbanging," the elder O'Rourke marvels.
Speaking of unconventional locales, the boys have also brought the noise to cowboy bars where you can literally tie up yer hoss in front; yet strangely, they've never been beaten within an inch of their lives, Sex Pistols-style. It almost figures in a landscape where punk virulence has been watered down to impotent pop dreck, a condition they assail on the frothing "Victims of Pop Culture."
"To me punk rock was about going against the grain, about sounding and acting different," O'Rourke explains. "And now you have this whole fucking group of clowns who have my favorite style of music and they've basically whittled it down to a bunch of sappy-ass songs about chicks."
While Lost At Sea is an unpredictable, forward-thinking amalgam of the heady thrash, post-punk, and metal strains of acts as disparate as Lamb of God, Refused, and Alice in Chains, the O'Rourkes were admittedly doing their own Pennywise Jr. act five years ago when a neighbor introduced them to Woodward. "We all listened to metal," O'Rourke recalls, "but Dean showed up at the house with a fucking flying V guitar and changed the vibe a little."
Fishman, a friend of O'Rourke's from high school, joined the fold a few years later, and after a windfall of progress - including being the first unsigned band to earn an entire Warped Tour run - the group set their sights on producer Matt Hyde of Slayer/God Hates Us All fame. After telling the band he'd sit through one song at a Santa Monica dive bar, Hyde ended up staying through 16, and a love affair was born.
In retrospect, of course he stayed. 2Cents have a way of using unconventional means to get what they want. After all, how often do you see some dude set up on the lip of the stage with a mic and some drums and bring it just as hard as his axemen? "Usually you tell people you're a singing drummer and they automatically assume you're band's gonna suuuuuuuuuck," O'Rourke admits. "That's my favorite part. Other people have done it, but I'm not saying I'm doing it better, but I think I'm doing it differently than it has been done." Considering that O'Rourke plays like the Hulk in a straitjacket, that's a bit of an understatement. Club owners might as well just declare martial law when 2Cents hit the stage. Woodward, Fishman, and the senior O'Rourke each plant a foot on their monitors, assuming the traditional metal stance, and manufacture riffs and leads that would stagger even their heroes in Slayer, leaving the pit just conscious enough to throw goat to the crazy drummer snapping his toms in half. As cherry (bomb) on top, O'Rourke often stands up to command the counterattack, leading the huddled masses yearning to breathe free in a chant of "Pop music is the enemy of my mind!"
Suffice it to say, the revolution isn't being stoked by some barely legal brats in mascara, skinny ties, and shotgun-blast emo coifs, but four longhairs who want nothing more than to rock without affectation.
"Basically it all boils down to: Can these guys stand up on stage with their shirts off and flex really good and play three power chords?" cracks O'Rourke.
Spoken like a true stand-up guy, but all jokes aside, you should know by now that he's just scratching the surface. Whether they're rocking out for disaffected skaters in a cramped nightclub or kids behind bars who take "hardcore" to an entirely different level, 2Cents have stripped the grills and gel off punk's rotting corpse. Reanimation is nigh.