Shock rock

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"I remember in the mid-'80s in barber shops there was this thing called the Punk Haircut," Zach says. "They would spike it up on top..."

"I was the first one at my high school to have one," interrupts Reagan, the only Hagfish member who has not shaved his head.

"...and that was the Punk Haircut," Zach continues. "Punk is a look. Green Day had that look, but they're not a punk band. It's just a stereotype."

"I can't speak for the band," says Doni. "I'm kind of anxious, kinda nervous, a little excited wonderin' if the album's gonna do good or if it's gonna flop--either way. But I'm not lookin' forward to the interviews and all the other bullshit and people thinkin' we're copyin' Green Day. I'm not anxious to have people talk shit at us and say, 'Y'all are just doin' this shit and copyin' them' because we were doin' this shit a year before it got popular--a long time before it got popular."

"I'm anxious to finally get a band out there like Hagfish that's more party-esque, more like a good-new kind of band," Barsotti says. "Even if Green Day..."

"Quit sayin' Green Day," Reagan says from his spot on the floor, rolling his eyes in disdain. "Jeeeeez."

"But, George, you got to," Zach insists.
"Let's do an interview about what we think about Green Day," Reagan says, his voice thick with sarcasm.

"OK," Barsotti suggests, "don't put Green Day anywhere in this article."
"Hagfish performs naked."
This is how one director begins his proposal for the video for Hagfish's "Stamp," which will be the first single off ...Rocks Your Lame Ass. The proposal lays on a table in the kitchen, stapled to another proposal that outlines a scenario in which the band would perform in a high school cafeteria during a food fight.

Both copies have been faxed to the band by management, and they must decide on a director and a proposal within the week, as they are closing in on the release date. The band members scoff at the first suggestion, dismissing it as a silly interpretation; these men might come off as dumb on stage--ogling females in the crowd, bouncing up and down like Super Balls, the silly side of punk--but they aren't stupid.

If Hagfish comes off as a "dumb and fun" band, as their label often characterizes the four, that's deceptive. Their presentation blurs the line between irony and homage: they wear suits not as a cute joke, but because it helps attract the ladies; they play short and fast only because they have no patience with filling the space that separates the beginning of a song from its end; they disguise their skill in these short, sturdily built songs. And they act off stage as they do on--more with a smile than a smirk, a wink instead of a leer.

During long stretches of the interview, they wander off into detailed descriptions of some of the "hot chicks" who come to a Hagfish show. Some women, they proudly exclaim, stand at the foot of the stage and flash their breasts; some just give knowing glances and wistful smiles. The four men are like X-rated Marx Brothers: Zach, for instance, likes to say he sometimes is forced to play his guitar horizontal to the ground because "my woody gets in the way."

"The coolest thing about playing shows is you don't realize who you actually are," Reagan says. "I don't know. It's like, I think I'm just George like I am at the house and I go play a show and stuff. Then I realize, 'I could do a lot of fuckin'.'"

"That's why we only play 45 minutes when we're headlining shows now," Zach explains. "We just want to get up there and get off"--in, of course, more ways than one.

But for all their crass boy-talk, they are passionate about their music and, actually, sweet to the point of sickening: Doni dotes on his wife, Zach is puppy-dog faithful to a girlfriend of only a few weeks, George has been seriously involved with the same woman on and off for years. And, with the exception of Reagan, they do not drink or smoke.

"I think a lot of people like us because a lot of bands get out there and go, 'Heeeey, we're fun,'" Doni says. "I'm not the biggest party-er as if you couldn't guess--I never was--but..."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky