December 5, 1997 in Seven

Sister Machine Gun Adopts A More Tuneful, Pop Style

By The Spokesman-Review

You could call his fourth album the next generation of industrial music.

But if Sister Machine Gun’s Chris Randall has anything to do with it, you’ll merely forget the terms “industrial” and “techno” as they apply to his music. And, you’ll think of his band’s latest album “Metropolis” more in terms like “rock” and “pop.”

“I don’t have much time for that sort of thing any more,” Randall, a one-time St. Maries, Idaho, resident, says of his industrial and programming-infected musical background.

“The first two albums were industrial records,” he says. “But this album is really a pop record. It’s dark and hard-edged for pop, but they’re pop songs and I’m a pop songwriter. Not in the vein of the Spice Girls or the Wallflowers or anything but I try to write songs rather than make dance music.”

A close look at “Metropolis” finds that Randall has a good point. Sure, there are the industrial markers - obvious computer enhancements and brooding rhythms that churn like a chugging train.

But a listen to songs like “Admit” and “Living Without You” with their more restrained rock and more tuneful elegance gives a glimpse into what Randall says he sees for his band down the road.

“There are songs that are obviously programmed but there are also songs that sound like they’re played when they aren’t. It’s one of the skills that I pride myself on. I make much more organic music than your average program-fest. And that fits in well with what I plan to do,” he says.

“I really like the way music is turning these days, that sort of singer-songwriter vibe. That’s what I really want to do, that’s what I love to do.”

Randall was raised in eastern Oregon, and spent time in North Idaho where his mother and stepfather still live. Over the years he taught himself to play multiple instruments - guitar, keyboards, drums, bass.

He started SMG eight years ago in New York and then relocated to Chicago. Influenced by the likes of KMFDM and Skinny Puppy, he saw industrial music as a way to mix his two passions: computers and music.

“I have this fascination with computers,” Randall says, pointing out that he doesn’t have a car but he has eight computers.

“Ultimately any songwriting experience I’m going to have is going to involve me sitting down in front of my computer and my keyboards and coming up with it before anyone else comes in,” he says.

But when it comes to his band’s live show, he points out, “We’re just a four-piece rock band.”

Sister Machine Gun joins hardcore staple Prong, Hanzel Und Gretyl and Stickmen at Outback Jack’s tonight. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $10.

More than just a son

Jason Bonham knows the legacy looms over him.

And he doesn’t mind.

As the son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, Jason gives his father credit for inspiring and teaching him to be the drummer he is.

“My father was a major influence in my life. He was the one who taught me how to play drums. He’s the one who put me here,” Jason says. “I think I came to terms with (his legacy) a long time ago.”

John Bonham died in 1980 at Jimmy Page’s home after drinking too much alcohol and suffocating.

Earlier this year, Jason (who was only 14 when his dad died) and his band recorded an album of Led Zeppelin cover tunes. Called “In the Name of My Father - The ZepSet,” the album includes songs such as “Ramble On,” “The Ocean” and “Communication Breakdown.” Proceeds from the album sales go to charity.

“It was done purely for the love and from the heart and for me to say thanks to Dad,” Jason says.

Saturday night, Bonham and his band will perform at the Cotton Club in Hayden, Idaho. They’ll play songs from the ZepSet as well as from their new album of original work called “When You See the Sun.”

Jason is joined by Charles West on vocals, Tony Catania on guitar and John Smithson on bass and keyboards. It is a hard-rocking album that bears the shadow of the Zeppelin influence but still finds Jason and crew forging their own way.

“I’m very happy that people look at me now sometimes as Jason Bonham and not just as John Bonham’s son. But I will always be John Bonham’s son and I’ll be happy to be that.”

The show at the Cotton Club starts Saturday at 9 p.m. Up A Notch, OZ the magician and Outlaw Reign will open. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door.

Not quite music

Here’s something different: Tonight, five-plus Spokane bands will perform at the Westminster Congregational Church. But they won’t exactly play what you’d call music.

The show, which is open to all ages, will instead feature experimental noise performances.

“It’s more about creating sound than a musical structure,” says Mike Raven, who will play tonight with the band Ataxia.

Raven says the bands will use a variety of instruments and other items to create the desired effect.

“Instead of relying on commercial gimmicks and flawless performing, noise is about creating sounds to convey ideas, emotions or to create vivid imagery,” he says.

“I have a drum machine that I use for various effects. I’ve got an old flute, pots and pans. I’ve even used an electric shaver and toy laser gun - all kinds of stuff just lying around the house - to get weird effects.

“We use guitars, too.”

Among the bands playing: The Earwigs, Blood in Sixth Gear, Earthwyrm and The Scraping.

The Westminster Church is at 411 S. Washington. Show starts at 7 p.m. and cover is $3. Money from tonight’s performance will be donated as part of a weekend-long fund-raiser to help the owners of 20th Century Trash. (See story on page 4.)

More music

A little bit Elvis Costello, a little bit Beach Boys, a whole lot of pop and a bit of punk: L.A. trio Cockeyed Ghost brings its bouncily raucous rock to Ichabod’s North tonight.

Its latest album, “Neverest” (Big Deal), finds the high-end hepped-up harmonies of singer Adam Marsland and bassist Rob Cassell propelled along by drummer James Hazely. Crackling tunes and intelligent lyrics are these boys’ strong-suit.

Flourish headlines the show with Cockeyed Ghost playing the middle slot. Smash Velvet opens. Show costs $4 and starts at 9:30 p.m.

Feeling a little bit country? Check out Herricks Pride at The Rodeo Restaurant and Country Club this month. This Spokane band finds its members playing fiddle, mandolin and banjo along with the usual instruments. Singer Donna Herrick and her twin brothers Kerry and Kevin Herrick head the band and are backed up by Greg Stephens, Dave Reynolds and Scott Wilburn.

Herricks Pride will play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through December at The Rodeo Restaurant, 5908 Broadway. Shows run from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Spokane garage punksters The Stoics headline an all-ages show Saturday at the Knights of Columbus hall, E. 302 Boone. Deadlock and Rain Broz open. Cover is $3. Music starts at 7:30 p.m.

Catch Spokane band Sweet Fancy Moses at the newly reopened Mother’s Pub (230 W. Riverside) Saturday. The show is $4, or free with the $10 purchase of the band’s CD, “The Insatiable Song & Dance Man.” Music starts at 9:30 p.m.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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