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Are the party-rockers known as Chow Nasty really three wild and crazy guys? Consider the evidence.
The band has been held down, tossed around, and pummeled by a motley crew of transsexuals in the video for its little slice of cheerleader-funk, "Ungawa." Its members are repeatedly doused with booze during the group's raucous, percussion-heavy live shows. And one Nasty boy (who prefers to remain nameless) recently injected himself into an all-female lovefest following a particularly energetic set - before spilling beer on the girls and getting kicked out.
Then again, what else would you expect from three guys who proudly liken themselves, suggestively if somewhat mysteriously, to "K-Y Jelly on a Whiffle Ball bat"?
"It's a prominent goal of ours to create an environment where people are getting loose," says singer and guitarist Damon Harris.
"We like to make people dance," adds bassist Joey Enos. "As soon as we realized we had the power to do that, it sparked our creativity. We're conscious of the music's power to get a crowd primed for a party, and that is a truly uplifting thing."
The antics certainly fit Chow Nasty's musical aesthetic. Best known for a lascivious mix of filthy swampland blues and frenetic funk set to a pounding drum-machine beat, the Oakland-based trio officially celebrates the release of its full-length debut, Super (Electrical) Records, this week. The disc is an eclectic adventure, reflecting influences as disparate as the Residents, George Clinton, and the Beach Boys. It's loaded with bouncy, blue-eyed soul reminiscent of Midnite Vultures-era Beck ("Sugartooth"), beatbox-heavy hip hop ("Floor is Bouncin"), and primal tributes to female anatomy ("A Tale of Two Titties"). Superis lively enough to spark a drunken dance-floor riot, but it's also versatile and richly textured, with spirited horns, wailing harmonicas, and multi-instrumentalist Zac Hewitt's rollicking synth riffs.
Super (Electrical) Records is being released on the band's own label, Omega. Omega was initially founded in the '50s by Harris' grandfather, Victor, a big-band composer from Hollywood. While Harris admits that his recording resources are limited, he relishes the opportunity to control the band's destiny by working independently. "I don't inherently distrust corporations," he adds. "It all depends on who's running the company."
The band made the decision to revive Omega while turning out Super. "We had this incredible team working on the record, with [Stones Throw Records president] Peanut Butter Wolf producing, and there were all kinds of exciting concepts being executed," says Harris. "We were really happy with how the record was sounding, and I think that gave us the confidence to say, "We can put this out. Someone will want to distribute this.'"
So far, the decision has paid off. "Ungawa" has already enjoyed healthy play on the L.A. and S.F. club scenes both Peaches and J.D. Sampson of Le Tigre have added it to their DJ sets, according to Harris. Meanwhile, the album, which hit the stands on June 12, is slowly gaining recognition through recent release parties in Sacramento, San Diego, and L.A.
The disc is a follow-up to January's EP, Ungawa ... The Party Starts Right Fucking Now. It's also a culmination of four years spent on the Golden State tour circuit, where Chow Nasty has opened for the likes of Morris Day and the Time, the Eagles of Death Metal, and, once upon a time, MC Hammer. With Superhot off the presses, the question now is whether Chow Nasty's reputation for goofy, high-energy theatrics and body-rocking anthems can spark success outside of the group's cozy local confines. An upcoming 40-date showcase will be the first true test of audience response around the country.
That's fine with Chow Nasty. "We're militant about our live performances," says Harris. "The stage is our proving ground, and we go into every show with that mentality."
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