The Decemberists, Power Tools, Love Letter to a Toxic Twin, Coming to Town

Three Questions With Chris Funk of The Decemberists

You guys play Coachella the day after you're in Vegas. Anyone you're hoping to catch there?

Arcade Fire would be nice—I've never seen them before, apart from a little bit on the Internet—but they play right after us on the opposite stage so I'd probably have to get a golf cart to take me over there and then climb over everybody from Hollywood to watch them play. So I'll probably stand in the back and watch it from afar on a TelePrompTer. At those music festivals you really have to, like, drop acid with your friends and get a tent going and get your suntan lotion and go in whole hog. For me, when you're standing backstage, it's not as fun.

Did you ever envision playing a proggy 13-minute song like "The Island" when The Decemberists first set out?

Well, the spirit of the band's always been to do whatever we wanted ... "Okay, we'll sign to your big label [Capitol], but we're gonna do what we wanna do." With "The Island," we'd been talking about doing a prog-rock song; we kept joking around about doing an elf song, a gnome-rock song, Lord of the Rings music. But in reality, "The Island" is just three songs kinda smashed together, and the transition work and instrumentation and feel are a perfect example of the band working on something together.

How upset would you have been losing your Colbert Report guitar-shredding battle to Stephen Colbert, instead of his "injury stand-in," Peter Frampton?

Well, technically I guess I did lose to Stephen. But I'd hang my head in shame equally low either way, I suppose. [Frampton] was just the icing on the cake to me. They were like, "We want you on the show, and Peter Frampton's gonna come out and kick your ass." And then when I got there and Henry Kissinger was there, and Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick was there and [New York governor] Eliot Spitzer was there. It was a blast. And now more drunk people randomly scream out "Stephen Colbert" at the live shows now, and I don't know how to respond to that.

– Spencer Patterson

The Weekly Playlist: Power Tools

Just as Tool's sound has evolved from alt-metal to progressive rock, so too has man modernized 2001: A Space Odyssey's tapir-clubbing bones:

Foo Fighters, "Monkey Wrench" (The Colour and the Shape, 1997) "Now and then I'll try to bend/Under pressure wind up snapping in the end," Dave Grohl insists. It's not until the gasping "One last thing before I quit ..." sing-shriek that you really believe him.

Leonard Nimoy "If I Had a Hammer" (The Way I Feel, 1968) This civil rights anthem was originally written and recorded by The Weavers, successfully covered by Peter, Paul and Mary and perfected by the most talented Star Trek crooner (who wasn't William Shatner).

The White Stripes, "Screwdriver" (The White Stripes, 1999) Apparently this first song the duo ever composed is about a violent attack with the titular makeshift weapon. Which pretty much puts that whole Joe-Pesci-with-an-ink-pen scene in Casino to shame.

Harem Scarem, "Baby with a Nail Gun" (Believe, 1997) Sure, it's an instrumental, but it's memorably hummable. Plus it makes for a great visual.

Ramones, "Chain Saw" (Ramones, 1976) "Texas Chain Saw Massacre/They took my baby away from me," you say? Funny, same thing just happened to us with Grindhouse.

Hawthorne Heights, "Sandpaper and Silk" (The Silence in Black and White, 2004) Throw in references to blades sticking in hearts, and you've got the least seductive combo in emo-core.

Nelly, "Tip Drill" (Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention, 2003) defines "tip drill" as ... well, let's just say the act involves a different type of tool than anything manufactured by Black and Decker.

– Julie Seabaugh

Love Letter to a Toxic Twin

A is for the toys up in your Attic

E for your Emotion that is Sweet

R is for your Ruts, Night in the

Oh God, that album sounded just like sheeet

S for Steven Tyler and for Shrieking

Man's voice inspired me to purchase Rocks

It's strange how young I was when I first loved them

Though now Steve's welcome inside my Pandora's Box

– Julie Seabaugh

Aerosmith. April 28, 8 p.m. $87-$187. Mandalay Events Center, 632-7777.

Coming to Town

With Shaun Kama & The Kings of the Wild Frontier, Limited Addiction, Mosquito Bandito, Dawn Patrol. April 27, 10 p.m., free. Double Down Saloon, 791-5775.

The Touchers

The Underwater Fascist (4 stars)

Quite possibly one of the weirdest bands ever heard, The Touchers play manic and metal-tinged alt-country that's fun, unique and totally addicting. If you're a fan of strange music, this disc is a must.

– Aaron Thompson

The Smithereens

Meet The Smithereens! (2 stars)

April 28, 7 p.m., $17.50-$29.95. Sunset Station's Club Madrid, 547-7777.

A note-by-note cover of The Beatles' entire 1964 U.S. debut album is an intriguing concept, but the Jersey alterna-pop faves do little to distinguish themselves—American accents aside—from the hordes of Fab Four tribute acts already on the scene. If you absolutely must stray from the original, seek out a more experienced cover band.

– Spencer Patterson

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