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Powerman 5000's Spider One reveals new MTV comedy-horror series,
discusses music industry, new album and reflects on his music career
Powerman 5000 (PM5K) lead vocalist
Michael Cummings' interest in sci-fi, horror
and comic books has remained a dominate
influence for his band's lyrics and visuals,
but now the musician well-known as
Spider One is taking those influences
outside of music and bringing them to
television in a series.
"It's a scripted TV show called Death
Valley that will be on MTV," Spider said.
"They purchased 12 episodes and it's a
horror-comedy with cops against monsters
in the California San Fernado Valley. It's
pretty exciting, something I've been working
on for years and finally got a chance to sell
it. We're in the middle of writing scripts for
the season and developing that right now."
The new series will follow members of the
Undead Task Force (UTF), an exclusive
LAPD branch that formed in 2009 when the
Powerman 5000: "Vekro"/Dave Pino (lead guitars), "Evan 9"/Evan Rodaniche (rhythm guitars), "Spider One"/
Michael Cummings (vocals), "X51"/Gustavo Aued (bass) and "GFlash"/Gordon Heckman (drums). Promo Photo
San Fernando Valley became infested with the undead: werewolves, zombies and vampires.
"It's pretty awesome. It's really funny, really gross and really scary, sorta all thrown in." said Spider, 42. "It's basically like a show
that I always wanted to see on TV that never existed."
MTV is branching out of it's reality show debauchery by slowly incorporating scripted series into the channel's lineup. Skins, an
edgy UK spin-off comparable to My So Called Life, will air in January. "That Girl" is another scripted show currently in progress
and set to air next year.
Song clip: "Time Bomb"
(Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere)
Deciding on a set list
("I always think its a weird choice when
bands don't play the most familiar songs.")
Song clip: "When World Collide"
(Tonight the Stars Revolt!)
Revisiting the old vibe on the new album
("The sound that most people like
and respond to in regards to Powerman")
Song clip: "V is For Vampire"
(Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere)
The influence of sci-fi, horror and comic books
("The idea of robots and what that means, how
that relates to our society and our culture")
|Audio: Interview B-sides with Spider
Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere was released in 2009, but with the recent tour it is now receiving well-deserved hype.
The album revisits the electronic-metal sound of the band's most successful album from 1999, Tonight the Stars Revolt!
"I think this time around it really was in everybody's interest to recap that vibe of what we're most known for, which is a mix of
electronic sounds and metal," Spider said. "It just felt right and there was a lot of cool electronic music out there at the time we
were writing this, which was inspiring. All the things came together and we revisited that vibe. It just felt right. But ultimately you
do what you want and hope the fans respond and I think this time they really have."
Powerman 5000 formed in 1991 and were signed to DreamWorks Records in 1997 after being noticed at a small venue
performing in front of a small New York City crowd. The band released four albums under DreamWorks until the label was
bought out by Interscope in 2004.
"In the 90s there was an attitude to try to make every artist a superstar,
get as big as possible, reach as many people, become as widespread
and mainstream as possible," Spider said. "I think the attitude has
shifted to find your fanbase and make sure they're happy and keep
them coming back. Maybe you're not selling as many records or
playing as big of venues as before, but the people that are there are
much more happy and passionate about what you do and less casual.
I think that's important, ultimately that's the better way to go."
When Interscope purchased Dreamwords the new label didn't resign
PM5K, so Spider began releasing new music under his own label
Megatronic Records. Since then the band has released two more
full-length albums and has undergone lineup changes, making Spider
the only original member.
"I think the major lables have gone to promoting a very small amount of
artists that are considered to be sure things, like Lady Gaga or Taylor
Swift, things that are very mainstream," Spider said. "It's a crazy time,
Where the nickname "Spider" came from
("I didn't wake up one day and say
'I'm gonna call myself Spider'")
Favorite horror movie
("I think that ultimately is probably the
greatest monster movie ever made")
Best comic book series
("I was very much a Marvel kid")
The crazy question that stumped Spider
("That's a question of all these
years I've never been asked")
Writing new music
("Although we should be writing songs...")
Advice to local, emerging bands
("Get out there and fucking work")
|Connect with Powerman 5000
"I think MTV is really making efforts to change there image a bit. Obviously they
went from being the music channel to the reality show channel with things like
The Real World and The Osbournes, and I think now that they sort of done that
they want to start developing shows more along the lines of maybe what you'd
see on HBO or something," Spider said. "So, it's pretty exciting. They're sort of
embarking on this whole new world of scripted shows and it's kinda fun to be one
of the first ones to bring that new vibe to the channel."
Death Valley will begin filming next month and is tentatively planned to air this
coming fall. The show's cast includes Caity Lotz (from AMC's Mad Men
role as Stephanie) and Tania Raymonde (ABC's Lost character Alex).
Considering Spider shares similar music and film interests with his older brother
Rob Zombie, he said they are better able to relate and vent when they speak.
"We just talked the other day. We're good sounding boards for each other
because we're always both doing something," Spider said. "So we tend to get on
the phone and disuccus what we're up to and complain to each other about
what's bugging us. It's a unique situation to sort of have two brothers doing some
things that are very similar. It's an interesting dynamic, but it's all good."
Along with working as the co-executive producer of Death Valley, Spider was on
tour with his band Powerman 5000. The five-member band recently finished its
extensive tour in support of the album Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere.
Spider revealed this image in his FEARnet.com blog.
"On this particular tour we left off some of the older stuff. It's always been a mixture of trying to represent different eras of the
band, but this time around we wanted to focus a bit more on the new stuff to try and get people more hyped about the new
album," Spider said.
but the opportunities are there to do much more on an independent level than ever before. It was always tough to compete with
the majors if you weren't on a major and now the playing field has been leveled a bit. It's just that the playing field is so much
bigger now that it's becoming increasingly difficult to get attention from a big group of people. They're (major labels) still in the
mindset of trying to make everything a ginormous success and they have to because that's the only way they can survive. If
you're a band that has any weirdness or quirkiness to you, you'd have a tough road on a major label."
Being involved with music as both a businessman and musician Spider said he's been through a lot of little struggles, but the
biggest change he's had to deal with is the music industry itself.
"The industry has turned itself upside down over the course of a few years," he said. "Starting really in the middle of the decade
around 2005 everything started to become a different landscape. It's more of adjusting to those things that is the challenge I
think of being in a band. It's really just adjustments over the years of trying not to become irrelevant."
Spider compared how the industry was when PM5K formed to how it is today.
"I think if you're holding on to the old ways, meaning that you think there's some record label that's supposed to save you and
give you a career, then you're sadly mistaken," he said. "The band got its success in a time when it was really very simple.
You put a band together and hopefully became sort of popular in your hometown or wherever you were, then a record label took
notice and they threw a bunch of money at you and they got your video on MTV and a song on the radio, and that was pretty
much it. Beyond that there wasn't too much else happening. But now those major elements are pretty much out of the picture,
and it's about finding what works best for your band and securing the fanbase more than some sort of giant media situation."
Despite dealing with major changes in the industry, Spider has experienced many uplifiting moments throughout his career.
"There have been a lot of moments that have been incredible," said Spider. "From the first time hearing a song on the radio to
having a platinum plaque handed to you and sharing the stage with people that you were fans of as a kid, all those things have
been really amazing, and going to places that you probably would never go to otherwise in your life."
Spider said the biggest and most important thing is that he was able to beat the system.
"I call it beating the system," he said. "Actually doing something in life that you really wanted to do and that you dreamt of as a
kid and making that a reality. Unfortunately in life a lot of people don't have that chance, they get stuck in and don't have that
opportunity to live out that dream. For me, that's been the ultimate satisfaction in this whole thing."
Album cover of PM5K's seventh studio album. New single is "Time Bomb."