|Meet the band.|
I discovered Sci-Fried in the same manner as many other nerdy outfits – it all started with an email. Drummer and co-founder Jim Frederick introduced himself (and the band) to me by way of a track entitled "Level UP!" From that point I was hooked.
By the time I caught the guys at this summer's Nerdapalooza I'd already committed a number of songs, both standard fare like "Level UP" and b-side material like the KISS send-up "Doctor Jones," to memory. Not by choice, mind you, but because tracks like that, music that combines the most studious of geeky passions with the power of classic-style arena rock, appeal to me on a base level.
You see, I am a lover of hip-hop and I've said many times that I grew up punk rock, but the most elemental components of my formative musical years were steeped in Zeppelin, Rush, ZZ Top, Nugent and all the other iconic bombast of rural classic rock radio. Yet despite the uncanny influence of these powerfully patch-worked styles, few modern artists (geeky or otherwise) mine it directly.
And yet Sci-Fried does just that.
Formed in 2007 when Jim and guitarist Chuck Silver set out to combine their twin loves of science fiction and rock 'n' roll, Sci-Fried began in a most unsuspecting manner – by cranking out high-energy parodies inspired by their favorite movies and TV shows. The addition of co-vocalists Dr. Vern and Mike "KSV" Jensen and bassist Sunni Simmons rounded out the lineup and also shaped the band's overall sound. Sunni's metal roots helped to add an additional level of musical aggression, while the combination of Vern's soulful, theatrical voice and KSV's low-key almost nerdcore-style delivery helped to smooth out the mix. Which brings me to my second and likely counter-intuitive point.
While Sci-Fried are perfectly comfortable channeling the wild energy of what I have affectionately come to think of as redneck rock – Sunni once referred to the band as the Mötley Crüe of the geek scene – they refuse to be musically boxed in, to limit their repertoire to what may be simple or expected.
Though I find it hard to quantify the exact essence of their intoxicating blend of styles and influences, let me endeavor to do so:
Part Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, part Anthrax, part Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem,Sci-Fried has easily inserted itself into the list of my favorite bands in all of musical nerddom.
Across the breadth of two albums Sci-Fried have explored a sonic palette colored by everything from American soul to British pub rock, from rap to punk. I'll be the first to admit that all this sonic experimentation leads to an occasional ill fit, but the guys are always expanding their musical scope while still holding onto that very classic rock element that provides their greatest strength.
|Slated for an early 2011 release!|
Geeks Unite opens with "Welcome to the Geek Age" and the title track – a clever and hard-hitting affirmation of nerd life. From there it weaves ably through surreal noise rock ("Don't Phase Me, Bro"), aggressive sleaze metal ("Sci-Fried") and ridiculously hilarious Dementia Music ("Ninja Drinking Song.") Occasionally the band's odd juxtaposition of styles fails to satisfy ("A Hero"), but more often than not it manages to hit the sweet spot. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album's stand-out track "Saturday Night on Syfy" - a song infinitely more palatable than its titular subject matter.
Ramming Speed likewise starts strong with another odd spoken-word piece that bleeds into the Primus send-up "Too Many Zombies." It's not exactly KSV's strongest vocal performance, but it manages to grab the listener. Joints like "Stargate Zone," "Trippin' through The Wormhole" and " My Name Is Spock 2.0" also blend the easily recognizable sounds of their musical source material with properly geeky lyrical content, but this album also has a few skippable selections. More often than not, though, Ramming Speed's material tends to fall along the lines of WAR parody "Land Speeder." It's fun in small doses, but not exactly the most compelling stuff the band's provided to date.
I'm not going to mislead you here; I genuinely adore Sci-Fried. A number of my friends were a tad skeptical as I talked the act up early this summer, but seeing the fellows perform live on the Nerdapalooza stage managed to make true believers of most. As much as I enjoy the sound of the band on wax, the live experience truly showcases their strengths. From Vern's larger-than-life voice to Chuck's classic licks, Sci-Fried is a band that begs to be experienced live.
They're also one of those acts that relishes the chance to connect with fans both on-stage and off. I'd be lying if I didn't say that some of the best parts of my Nerdapalooza experience was spent simply hanging out with Sci-Fried and their extended musical family. (What up, Jaime!) And it's important to note that Nerdapalooza was merely one stop on the band's dorktastic summer circuit. TOUR 2010: The Year We Make Con‐Tact took Sci-Fried from nerd hot-spots like Megacon, Dragon*Con and even the Klingon Feast. A fitting tour regimen for the reigning kings of southern geek rock.
|Yeah, that pretty much sums 'em up.|
To illustrate this point, I'll close with a season-specific single from Sci-Fried (and again featuring my brother Marc with a C.) It's the perfect example of the kind of good-natured musical madness one can expect from the band. And if this one doesn't do it for you I encourage root around a bit in the Sci-Fried back catalog. They offer a myriad of sounds for any mood.
Assuming, of course, that said mood involves geeking the fuck out.