Artist of the day: The Spears

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The Spears' Chris Barrows (vocals), Sam Williams (guitar), Gary Strickland (bass) and Rob Rampy (drums) are all nationally known lynchpins in the hardcore punk scene ‚Äî Williams is in Down by Law, Strickland was in Hated Youth, Barrows is in the Pink Lincolns and Rampy is in D.R.I. This new supergroup of sorts, based out of Tampa, has a sound that‚Äôs tough but melodic and highly accessible.

The Spears play with Down by Law and Nerve Scheme at 8 p.m. Friday at the Emerald Bar in St. Pete. After the jump, check out Julie Garisto's interview with Strickland about how the band came together and what, exactly, the name means. Does Britney have anything to do with it?

Spearheads: Chris Barrows, vocals; Sam Williams, guitar; Gary Strickland, bass; and Rob Rampy, drums, are all nationally known lynchpins in the hardcore punk scene — Williams is in Down by Law, Strickland was in Hated Youth, Chris Barrows is in the Pink Lincolns and Rampy is in D.R.I. This new supergroup of sorts, based out of Tampa, has a sound that’s tough but melodic and highly accessible. Strickland recently answered a few questions.

Beginnings: “We formed two years ago. The first month was very productive. We wrote and recorded about 10 songs, released a single and then went on hiatus until the end of last year. We’re all involved with enough projects that we’re busy even when nothing is going on with the Spears. When I moved here (from California) in 1999, I heard rumors that the guitar player for Down by Law lived in Tampa. I already knew the Pink Lincolns were from here. In 2007 Sam and Chris decided to form a band. At that time I was jamming with Hunter (Oswald of the Sheaks) who they asked to play drums. He brought me in on bass. It was very much an infrequent side project that eventually fizzled out. Months later Chris called and wanted to get the Spears back in action. Everyone except Hunter was up for it. I heard that Rob from D.R.I. moved to this area. My old band Hated Youth had played a few shows with them. I tracked Rob down and asked if he wanted to play with us. Here we are.”

Why Spears? Britney? “We were looking for something raw and primitive. Spears are weapons first conceived in the Stone Age. Their ancient spirit lives today in the form of things such as nuclear missiles. We weren’t just making an obvious reference to Neo-Classical architecture.”

Natural abilities: “All of us were exposed to punk and hardcore at an early age. It’s in our blood. When we come together as The Spears we tap into that portion of who we are. It’s a very unconscious and natural sound for us to make. Each member contributes songs.”

Major recording plans this summer: “Our debut album Shove is currently being mixed at a studio in Virginia. It will be released this July on Jailhouse Records. They recently became a subsidiary of a larger company so people should be able to find it at most record stores.”

Tours? “Sam is headed to South America next week for a short jaunt with Down by Law. Rob may be headed out again soon with D.R.I. As for the Spears, we hope to tour in the fall. We’re eager to see what happens once the album is released.”

Do grown-up life and responsibilities get in the way? “The band exists in our lives as a form of expression and catharsis. Some people go the gym or run with bulls, we play music.”

Standout tune: ‚ÄúWe have one single called People Are Bad that was released in 2007.  It seems to be the current crowd pleaser.‚Äù

Hear ’em: With Nerve Scheme and Down by Law Friday at 8 p.m. at Emerald Bar, 550 Central Ave., St Petersburg.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 7:00am]

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