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Archive for Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Glam band’s appeal more than cosmetic

February 20, 2001

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When he looks into the crowds of teens and early 20-somethings who come to hear his band, Ryan Shuck sees more and more guys wearing cosmetics eyeliner, lipstick, foundation, nail polish which tickles him.

"I see lots of little Ryans out there," said Shuck, guitarist for Orgy, a synth-metal band from Southern California.

"It's great. I have my own line of clothing as well, and before a show recently I put my hair under a hat and went out and talked to kids waiting in line. A bunch of them were wearing my clothes or improvising our clothes and our hair. And the makeup, too."

Orgy isn't old enough to have its own army or action-figure dolls, like Kiss does, but after surviving the original Family Values Tour a few years ago, the band is big enough to package its image and sell it as fashion.

Shuck, a former high-dollar hair stylist in Los Angeles, wasn't kidding about having his own line of clothing, and Orgy's latest press kit includes copies of the band starring in two fashion layouts. One was in Alternative Press, a magazine for hard-rock fans; the other was in Revolver, where the boys were more dolled-up than the underwear models they were hanging out with.

So how did all this androgyny and Max Factor glam fly with the Korn/Limp Bizkit crowds, where bare chests and baseball caps are reigning fashion?

"Surprisingly well," Shuck said. "There's something about being the bastard child in the family, which we were for Korn. The kids weren't as brutal as we thought they'd be. At first they just stood there and went like, 'OK. They've got loads of makeup on. They look like the Cure on cocaine.'

Orgy plays the kind of music temperate industrial disco that might attract handfuls of Korn fans, despite all the cosmetic affectations. Its latest record, "Vapor Transmission," is consistently more aggressive than the debut, "Candyass," although neither was exactly groundbreaking.

The first record, Shuck said, was made in about two months, from writing to final recording. The album unexpectedly got famous thanks to a Los Angeles radio DJ who fell for the cover of "Blue Monday," a dance club hit 15 years ago for New Order, one of Orgy's favorite bands.

Thanks in big part to that single, Orgy sold 1.5 million copies of its debut, nice numbers for a new band in a genre with uneven commercial appeal. But the sound of the first record has little to do with where the band is now, Shuck said. Over the span of 30 shows on the Family Values tour, Orgy hardened and honed its edge, an evolution that shows up on "Vapor."

"The first record was an experiment," he said, "a big art project, a couple of shots in the dark. But it went a lot further than we expected.

"The new album is the result of being on the road for so long and having more time to make it. So, it's bigger and heavier and more interesting.

"We're much more of a legitimate band now."

And as likely to be in Vogue as they are to be in vogue.

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