Spike 1000 Biography
"Everybody thinks you're so sublime..."
If all you want from your hard rock is a blend of grinding guitars and sledgehammer rhythms, then look no further. By drawing as much from Jane's Addiction and Faith No More as from the Cure, Spike 1000, a hard-boiled quartet from San Francisco, deliver raging slabs of both. However, if that's all you expect from the genre, you're in for a surprise. Where most metallic acts are content to simply bash away, Spike 1000 aims higher by digging deeper. The band's blistering Columbia debut, Waste Of Skin, is a provocative album of emotional bloodletting and resonance. Most striking perhaps is the presence of Shannon Harris, a powerful singer with a voice of intensity and character. Alternating from sultry and sensuous to vulnerable and vitriolic, she's capable of conveying pain, longing, rage and tenacity--sometimes all within a single verse.
About Harris, SF Weekly wrote, "[She] has a voice that can blast your hair back one minute with volume and grit, then smooth it forward again with soul and sexiness. As a group, Spike 1000 confidently stretches out heavy grooves into engaging four-minute ruminations on anger, frustration and pain." Added BAM, "Picture Zach de la Rocha as a woman with long, straight fiery-auburn hair with the belly button and energy of Gwen Stefani, and you get an image of Harris." Wrote Billboard, "Harris seems bent on proving she can comfortably hang in the testosterone-dominant clique of bands like Korn, Tool and Rage Against The Machine. If cuts like the frenetic, downright vengeful 'Manwhore' are an accurate indicator, she's well on her way to achieving her goal." A few years back, Kerrang! asked Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis to name five new metal acts worth watching. He listed Spike 1000 as one of his favorites. Said Davis, "The music's really heavy...and the singer's voice fucking scares me."
"...Time passes by and every day I brace for real dreams..."
Originally from Bakersfield, CA, the band--former schoolmates who bonded over a mutual love of heavy, hairy noise-- migrated north to the Bay Area five years ago. Says Harris, "We knew everyone in Bakersfield and were comfortable there, but we felt that a change of scenery would do us good. When we arrived in San Francisco, however, we quickly realized we had our work cut out for us. It took us awhile to establish ourselves and build a following." Adds guitarist Bill Thompson, "We had to overcome a lot of obstacles. We had no money, and we lived in a small rehearsal space in Oakland. At night, we would hear gunfire being exchanged on the streets outside. Looking back, it was kinda funny, but at the time it was pretty insane." Luckily, the group's perseverance paid off: after burning up California's northern circuit and opening for bands such as Korn, Stone Temple Pilots and God Lives Underwater, Spike 1000 caught the ear of Columbia Records and signed with the label in early 2000. "I remember the first time I heard Jeff, Fat and Bill play together," recalls Harris. "I was blown away by their raw energy and I wanted to be a part of that."
"...Make me suffer every day..."
"Make Me Suffer"
With Waste Of Skin, Spike 1000 serves undeniable notice: they have arrived. Produced by Malcolm Springer (Full Devil Jacket, Liquid Gang) and mixed by Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Korn), Waste Of Skin is a seething 10-track disc of furnace-blast riffs, bone-cracking beats and refreshingly sharp melodies. As Harris tells it, the band sweated over the album in more ways than one. "We recorded the album in Nashville," she recalls, "and it was cold outside. I remember this because Malcolm would make me run around the block just before we'd record vocals. He said he did it so that I'd sound like I was out of breath when I sang, but I think he just wanted to piss me off so that I would sound angrier," she laughs. Either way, it worked. Harris exorcises her demons on songs like "Manwhore," "Measure Me" and the lead single "Make Me Suffer," a song "about anyone who makes you feel worthless--including yourself." Harris writes with blunt honesty and lays herself bare on much of Waste Of Skin. She sifts through the wreckage of past relationships, lashing back against judging eyes ("Prime"), bad influences ("Element") and naysayers ("Nowhere"). "As therapeutic as it may seem, singing these songs can be a little detrimental," says Harris. "When I hear the music begin, I take myself to the place I was when I first wrote those words and all those old feelings come back." Her primal scream is raw, cathartic and from the gut, and is matched in intensity by the players around her. Thompson, drummer Jeff Jones and bassist Mfat manufacture the perfect backdrop, weaving vintage guitar crunch and thick, trance-like grooves into a hook-laden sonic vista that broadens with each listen. As Thompson explains, it isn't just that nobody sings like Harris--nobody comes even close to sounding like her. "Some people don't even realize it's a girl singing on the record," he laughs." They think it's a guy who sounds like a girl."
"...You made up your mind just to measure me..."
While Harris isn't worried about the hairy-chested competition, she does admit it isn't easy being a woman in what has traditionally been regarded as a boys' club. "When we walk into a venue to load in and do soundcheck, people look at me and assume that I'm just some groupie or somebody's girlfriend. The band walks out and starts playing and people react, 'Okay, cool, we get this--they're a heavy band.' Then I walk out and you can see their faces change. 'Oh. A girl singer.' Some look disappointed, some look surprised, but then the song kicks in and I start singing and they look overwhelmed. By the end of the set, they're usually begging for more."