Two, Two, Two Bands in One

Former Natural Causes and FtN members play musical chairs with Milk Can and Sixo

What Schantz wanted, and what he has achieved with Milk Can, is a band that incorporates the fantasy and illusion of rock music. Hence the stage names. "All great rock and roll, there was something that was not...I don't want to say not real," says Schantz, searching for an explanation, "but there's always something...." "That's a little bigger than life," chimes in Alvarez. "Or stranger than life," Schantz finishes. "There's illusion, there's fantasy, there's art in a different sense than just honest music for what it is."

While Milk Can was in the embryonic stage, there was the obvious potential for strained relationships between the three members and their respective bandmates in Forget the Name and Natural Causes. "We just did it [Milk Can] for the fun," Alvarez points out. "Some felt threatened, and some liked it. I don't think it had anything to do with the end of Forget the Name." Adds Murphy: "We didn't think about it. That's the whole thing. We just kind of did it."

Even so, Alvarez says he and Murphy began writing music together during that period, "and we found that we were heading in a totally different direction than Forget the Name." Sixo was formed in the wake of FtN's demise a few months ago: Alvarez and Murphy went on a writing binge, cranking out eleven songs over the course of a month and a half, and then made plans to record an album as soon as possible. Schantz offered to play guitar and record the tracks in his home studio.

So now there are two different bands and two different CDs: Milk Can's Marblehead, OH is a raucous, glorious celebration of primal rock and roll; Sixo's epynonymous CD is more subdued, reflecting the natural maturation of Alvarez and Murphy as songwriters in their post-FtN careers. "We still write very serious songs," says Alvarez. "For Sixo I think all of the songs are pretty serious."

"We're diverse as it is, together and individually," observes Schantz, "so we're bringing a lot to the table, and it seems like each band has its focus with what we're bringing. With Sixo there is a little more serious and introverted-type songs. In Milk Can there's a fine line between...it's either funny or it's sadly dark. You can't really tell."

"That's a balance you could never find in any one band," says Murphy, jumping in. "For someone who likes to play a lot of different stuff, it's great."

There's an underlying method to the two-band madness. Milk Can and Sixo form the foundation for Bad Karma, a record label the three musicians incorporated to escape the eternal distraction of pursuing deals with other labels. To save on what they anticipate will be extensive recording costs (material for a second Milk Can LP has been written and a CD is planned for release early next year), Alvarez and Murphy financed the label's sixteen-track studio on Visa and MasterCard.

"I just think it's smarter to accomplish something on your own at first, and achieve your own income and get status where a distributor that deals with independent labels can take it to another level," says Schantz. "We're going to write great songs," insists Alvarez, "put them out [and] make the record company work so we won't have to worry about anything but making good songs and good records."

In fact, notes Murphy, Bad Karma is the real center of attention these days. "We're looking at it more like a record label than being in a band," he explains. "Instead of just playing a bunch and then finally putting out an album, we're going to put out albums and then play a bunch to support those albums."

The three musicians say fans and former bandmates from their pre-Sixo-Milk Can days are still a little bewildered. "People just shake our hands like, you know, our relatives died," says Schantz. According to Murphy, friends come up to him and tell him, "'It's okay, you guys have totally lost it, but it's okay.' But I feel we have a vision and we're doing something that we want to do. Everyone thinks we're nuts. They think we're totally fucking insane."

The Sixo-Milk Can release party takes place at 10:00 tonight (Thursday) at the Stephen Talkhouse, 616 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 531-7557. Admission costs five dollars.

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