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Four Corners of Local Grooves

By sarah johnson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 4, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Flippsyde is a one night event playing Friday, February 5 in the Cellar. The night of hip-hop, jazz, funk, and reggae begins at 7:30, costs only $5, and may cause irreversible changes of character in the unfunky.

The life of a local band: long hours, little pay, no recognition. With the odds stacked against them, it is amazing these bands ever stick together. To celebrate this triumphant spirit, Rising Star Entertainment (a part of UAB) hosts Flippsyde; an evening in four acts with additional musical interludes by DJ Sumkid.

Groovebox, aptly named for its funky, hip-hop based grooves, is a fairly new band, yet endlessly dedicated to its music. Music courses through these boys' veins like a drug.

"I actually moved out here from the midwest to attend the U of A," said drummer Aaron Chisena. Soon, however, music sucked both him and bassist Ron Malleis away from school.

"We practice at Beaver's Band Box. Actually, the traditional rhythm section all work there: guitar [Darron Dille], bass, and drums," said Malleis.

The band delved into hip-hop with the admission of Chris Arevalo, better known as DJ Bonus One, and MC Da Phooka, aka Roland Brooks. "I started rhyming in those hard days when everybody was gang banging," said Brooks. "Everyone was trying to prove that they were harder than the next person. Now [the rhymes are] a little more intellectual, a little more mature."

For DJ Bonus One, music was everywhere.

"I had a really musical family," said Arevalo. "Everyone wanted me to play guitar but I wanted to spin."

It was Brooks, however, who recognized something in this band that no others had, and he wanted to be a part of it.

"Their sound, it was something totally different," reported the freestyle master. "They had drums and a bass that had kind of a jazzy sound then they had a DJ and that was bringing it into the hip hop realm and then there was this rock guitar. That was something off to the left."

Shifting away from the jazz style is PLUS, a punk-rock, hip-hop band that's anything but angry. In their recording studio/home, life is a party. As bassist Brian Phillips downed a beer and Marc Shelton practiced on the coffee-table-turned-drumset, guitarist Chris Porro and vocalist Sean Herman chatted about what makes PLUS pulse.

"It's all about attitude with us. If we find someone with the right attitude it's better than musical ability," said Herman.

"That's not true!" said Porro. "I don't care how good your attitude is. If you can't play, no fuckin' way."

Regardless, it's attitude that has created their small empire. Walls lined with old box springs stuffed with carpet installation provide the perfect studio. ("We played ninja mattress thieves," confessed the band.)

"Sean is most ingenious when it comes to ghetto sound insulation," praised Porro.

"I'm like fuckin' Ghetto McGuyver!" boasted Herman.

PLUS acknowledges that pent-up feelings can be the death of bands.

"Even if we weren't in a band, if we were just friends, we'd still bicker and do the same thing. Fighting is good," Phillips stated, emerging from his beer.

So far, the band is living comfortably in obscurity.

"We're just happy to make our music and be poor," said Porro.

Despite their golf-inspired title, Interlocking Grip is devoted to booty-quaking beats and jazz style. Five members strong, the band consists of frontman Nick Luca, Aaron Bonsall on drums and Jeremy Patfield on sax, all music majors, high school brother/bassist Jeremy Bonsall, and DJ Kade Reid Mislinski, a political science major.

"I was working at Brooklyn Pizza doing nothing live," admitted Mislinski, who was inspired by the salsa hip-hop sound of Ozomatli. "I liked the idea of playing with a bunch of jazz kids."

"We're all jazzically trained," said Luca.

It is this jazz background that lends the band its improv techniques and versatility.

However, structure is still needed and Captain Luca is at the helm to provide it.

"Sometimes I bring in a skeleton and then we build from that," stated Luca. "Flesh it out."

Onstage, this fleshed skeleton grows even fatter as each part takes a solo. This is their time to have things their way. The vision for the band remains one, however, and no ego is ever allowed at the expense of others. So where are they going?

"To the top! Conan!" Patfield gleefully imparted.

Stuck in a Groove gauges their success by how quickly the cops shut their parties down. For this brave band of seven, it means things are getting real when the cops show up.

"We've been busted every time," related keyboardist Wes Brewer. "I don't think we've played once...."

"No, no," interrupted brass man Casey Rabe, remembering a party where a broken water main had preempted the police. "We had to run with all our shit outta there."

"Nearly escaping death," added bassist Matt Brein.

These obstacles don't daunt the boys in the least.

"We love playing parties," stated saxman Brian Reyburn. "Oh yeah!" agreed the band. Fortunately, their following is growing - but it's still not large enough to include much panty-throwing.

"The only panties onstage are ours," confessed the band. "We throw them at each other."