By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Shouldn't be a surprise if their profile on this side of the Atlantic increases in the coming months, since the group is in the middle of its first U.S. tour, and will make its broadcast television debut (over here, at least) on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on April 30. It is, however, a bit of a shock that the winner for Best Act Overall would also be considered the most experimental band in town, especially when that town is Dallas, a city "full of unimaginative, materialistic yuppies," as someone recently took the time and energy to e-mail us. Makes sense that the band to do it (the first one ever, if memory serves) would be the Polyphonic Spree. The group may employ violin and viola, harp and horns, pedal steel and piccolo, a janitor-worthy amount of keys and a choir. But the 20-something-member band is still playing pop songs with those instruments, sandbox soundtracks with child's-play choruses such as, "Hey!/It's the sun!/And it makes me shine." The real experiment? Figuring out how to keep a couple of dozen choir robes snow-white while on tour. --Z.C.
Bowling for Soup
Winner for: Best Album (2002), Best Song (2002)
Observer readers harbor mad love for Wichita Falls homeboys Bowling for Soup: The majority of you selected as Best Album the band's peppy third CD, Drunk Enough to Dance, and as Best Song its suddenly ubiquitous jock-baiting hit single, "Girl All the Bad Guys Want." But when we reach front man Jaret Reddick, getting drunk enough to dance at a backyard band barbecue at bassist Erik Chandler's place, he still can't believe enough members of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences agreed with you to hand Bowling for Soup its first Grammy nod (for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, if you're taking notes).
"How mind-blowing is it that we would be nominated?" Reddick marvels. "Everyone's been asking, 'Is this something you guys sought after?' And we're like, 'It's not even something we ever thought about!' We figured it had to be a joke--maybe a Mini-Grammy, or a Grammy 2. I mean, you watch the Grammys to see Bono and Don Henley, not us."
This is true: Even the band's baby-blue tuxedos weren't much of a match for all the high-wattage star power motoring Madison Square Garden that night. But Reddick's just pumped that the tuneful, efficient pop-punk he, Chandler, guitarist Chris Burney and drummer Gary Wiseman have been making for nearly a decade is starting to gain some mainstream recognition.
"I listen to Top 40 radio," he explains, "and pop-punk bands are in the top five on every single station right now: Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, Bowling for Soup, Simple Plan. We want to be a band that people like, and we catch a lot of shit for that attitude, but we didn't start this band to break new ground--we started it to write songs that people want to hear."
Despite the newfound glory, Reddick insists the band is keeping it as real as ever. "We're absolutely the same," he says of the group's attempt at big-balling. "It's so exactly the same it's scary; whether we're at band practice or on the tour bus, playing to 100 people or 200,000, it doesn't matter. And musically, the proof is in the albums: If you can find one, buy our record that came out in '94, and you'll see that we're the same band we've always been. We understand that we need to enjoy this while it's here."
In the short term that means playing a handful of radio-station festivals over the next few months, a choice spot on the Warped Tour this summer and writing and recording for a new album to be released in 2004.
"We've been nominated for an Observer award before, for Best New Band," Reddick says, laughing. "We didn't win, but the ceremony was one of the drunkest states I've ever been in. See, there was free tequila, and there's this equation you learn in pre-algebra: tequila = bad." Still drunk, still dancing. --Mikael Wood
Winner for: Best New Act
If the story didn't already exist, perfect in so many ways, if you didn't see it with your own eyes, hear it from their untrained lips, you'd swear it was fiction straight from an imaginative publicist. Or maybe the work of an old-school band manufacturer along the lines of Andrew Loog Oldham, someone who knew what journalists wanted before they knew they needed it. Yet, no, there it is: three sisters (guitarist Chauntelle, singer-guitarist Sherri and singer-keyboard player Stacy DuPree), their brother (drummer Weston) and their bass-playing best friend (Jonathan Wilson), ranging between the ages of 21 and 14. Straight outta Tyler, by way of Dallas, and into the welcoming arms of Warner Bros. and Coldplay's go-to guy, Dave Holmes of Nettwerk Management. And this has all, pretty much, happened in the past few months. There have been made-for-VH1 movies that have more complicated plots. But, then, that's part of what makes it such a great story; it's so simple, so pure, it feels as though it was meant to happen. And if that's true, you couldn't pick a better band--a better family--for it to happen to.