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February 9, 1995 * Vol. 5, No. 3

Revolution Block

by Mike Gibson

Adam Bucco, Revolution Block's lanky, limber-limbed bassist, is a flat-out hoot to watch. Instrument strapped to sternum (none of that low-slung Keith Richards nonsense), arms cocked at careful angles, he tweaks and whumps the high-gauge strings on his six-string bass with a bionic thumb, lithe left-hand digits slinking up and down the extra-wide neck like a spider dancing on a hot-plate. No wasted effort—all relevant parts moving with bare-minimum efficiency.

The rest of his body, however, adheres to no such motion constraint. His angular frame is draped over the axe with serpentine carelessness, his head bobbing and whipping about on a rubber-band neck, his torso bending, snaking, convulsing in sync with his own lewd, deep-dish groove. Betcha he didn't learn those moves from Rusty Holloway.

But Bucco's on-stage comportment, part studied rigidity and part bumpin'-ass jive, is pretty similar (metaphorically speaking) to Revolution Block's sound. Equally adept at loose-bootied funk and sluggo riffage, these guys like to come out swinging the heavy stuff, hitting you with a righteous roundhouse gut-punch before pulling back and settling into a burbling, percolating groove.

"We're 'an eclectic mix of punk, funk and hardcore'—that's my stock description," drawls Revolution Block guitarist Aaron Standridge, relaxing in the shabby foyer of the band's rental storage practice hall. "We go for a raw, aggressive type thing, as honest and direct as possible."

"The bands we like best are the bands that combine a heavy sound with a sense of groove," says drummer Dan Orchik. "For us, it's all about rhythm—it's all about getting people to move. There's nothing I hate worse than going to a show and seeing everyone just standing there. I'd much rather see a bunch of crazy mothers out there skanking in the pit."

But what sets the Block apart from a zillion other jive-happy mosh mavens is song craft—hooks, melodies, lyrical relevance—elements which they don't sacrifice in the heat of the moment. Raven-maned singer Jared Hasmuk has been known to tame his ferocious croak, normally stuck somewhere between Kurt Cobain's frayed rasp and Lemmy's gargling menace, and grace the band's more melodic material with a palatable croon. And even though there's chops a-plenty in the band's blitzkrieg rhythms, solos are few and far between.

"If a song has lots of energy and you stop for an 8-bar solo, the energy is gone," says guitarist and chief riffsmith Chris Bertelsen. "I don't like long solos. For the most part, we like to keep everything focused."

The band hasn't lacked focus or energy since storming the Knoxville scene in the fall of '93. They bolted out of the starting blocks by playing their first several shows in the Cruzer's Lounge tournament-style Battle of the Bands. After weeks of competition, the heretofore unknown fivesome walked away with first place, raising eyebrows and garnering more than a few fans along the way.

"We had a couple of shows that were borderline disaster, but that contest really helped get us started," Bucco says. "Winning earned us lots of gigs without having to do anything."

Nonetheless, Revolution Block has done plenty in the months following the Cruzer's triumph, earning a spot in several showcases, contributing to local compilations (Volume '94 and All Ages, No Cover) and even taking a close second place to red-hot Superdrag in the semi-prestigious UT Battle of the Bands. Next up: a homebrew CD. Standridge says six tracks are already in the can, waiting for the band to stow enough cash to lay down six more.

"We've talked to a guy who has a small indie label in Florida called 24 Hour Service Station," Standridge says. "He likes us, and we want to see if he'll put up the remainder of the money for the disc. We're also trying to get management and increase our out-of-town circulation, but there's a lot still up in the air."

"God, I wish we had some idea of where we're going," Hasmuk laughs. "We've learned a lot through the course of playing out. Of course, most of it is very trivial information."

"We're pleased with what's going on so far," Orchik says. "We just want to keep people coming to the shows. We're five of the most childish, temperamental idiots you'll ever meet, and I don't think any of us could get by in any other situation. I can't think of anything else I'd like to do to make a living."

© Metro Pulse