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Five Across the Eyes (F.A.T.E.) looks like a typical South Florida new-school tough-guy hardcore punk group. The bandmates' T-shirts feature elaborate lettering and spider webs with designs printed on the side. The cover of their self-released EP, Empty Bottles and Liquor'd Spit, features an outline of a brass knuckle. Imagine the surprise when you hear their music, a form of straight-ahead street punk with rock and roll flair. The sound originates from the late Seventies' reaction against fashion punks and the high-minded co-option of a scene that was originally from the streets and for the people.
Building on this tradition, the band draws on the experience of local living. Lead vocalist Alex Hernandez reflects, "I get my inspiration from everyday things I see, situations, reactions, and growing up in Miami." One of the first striking things about the group's music is that it's not a typical all-fast, all-mall-punk, straight-ahead generic band. F.A.T.E. weaves together the traditional elements of punk and oi lyrics about the street and hometown pride with almost Chuck Berry-esque leads and a large helping of straight-up rock and roll. Guitarist Shawn Perkins describes it as "AC/DC-Kiss-influenced sound with a street-punk vibe."
The band formed in 2002 in South Miami-Dade. Perkins elaborates, "Well I've known George [the bassist] since preschool.... [We] met Alex in middle school around seventh grade.... I would always go to practice to hang." Eventually the original singer, E.J., left the group, and about a year and a half after the band's inception, Perkins joined full-time. F.A.T.E. shares guitarist/lead singer Hernandez and drummer John Hinde with the long-running South Florida hardcore outfit 24 Hours to Live, now on hiatus.
"The last two years, we've grown up and realized that everything else out there isn't as good as playing punk rock, and being a hard-working, full-time, touring punk rock band is something we want to do for as long as we can," says Perkins. The band will begin a national tour at the end of this summer.
"We recognized that we needed to get off our asses if we wanted this to be a full-time band and we all made the effort to put more in," Hernandez adds.
F.A.T.E.'s longtime hero Rancid played the fledgling band on the raucous act's XM Radio program, and Hernandez and company will open Rancid's upcoming gig in Fort Lauderdale as well as at Rancid singer Tim Armstrong's Hellcat Records showcase in California this summer. The bandmates parlayed the opportunity into a West Coast tour by connecting with a like-minded group to provide support on the road. "We hooked up with Hit by a Semi, and they booked a few dates and we booked a few shows, and we are sharing equipment," explains Perkins.
"We plan to tour again at the end of this summer, maybe with Aggro, another band from Miami," Perkins adds. "We want to be able to keep touring and playing shows whether we become famous or not."