Wednesday, September 18

There’s nuttin’ stoppin’ Weapon of Choice creates nutty new style


There’s nuttin’ stoppin’ Weapon of Choice creates nutty new
style

Los Angeles-based band blends range of musical ingredients;
manufactures unique, creative sound

By John Sabatini

Daily Bruin Contributor

Just when it seemed that the music industry had exhausted its
supply of innovative new bands, Los Angeles-based Weapon of Choice
arrived on the scene to provide some spark. Tomorrow night at the
Alligator Lounge, the eclectic eight-piece musical experiment will
exhibit its unique sound which has been bending rules and turning
heads.

Drawing upon a range of musical influences including such
artists as Sly & The Family Stone, Frank Zappa, and Fishbone,
Weapon of Choice has created an unusual funkadelic-alternative mix.
The style was so original, in fact, lead singer/bassist Lonnie
"Meganut" Marshall coined the term "Nut*meg" to describe the new
sound.

"It’s pretty much just music without any limitations, in a
nutshell," he says. "We have eight people in the band with various
musical backgrounds and influences that range from jazz to rock to
punk to hip hop. We just bring all of that to the party and call it
Nut*meg music."

Even Weapon of Choice’s tour mates have represented an
impressive variety of musical genres. After getting its first break
by opening for alternative giant Pearl Jam, Weapon of Choice has
since played with such bands as Primus, Tool, Living Colour, Ice
Cube, House of Pain, and even Run DMC.

"Everywhere we’ve played, we’ve gotten a good response because
we have all those different flavors and colors in the music so it
appeals to just about anybody," Marshall says. "We haven’t seen too
many people playing possum in the audience when we take it to the
stage."

Although the heavy funk influence of the Nut*meg style gives the
music an eccentric and electrifying flavor, the term itself has a
rather inauspicious origin. The word simply preoccupied Marshall
during a song-writing session for Trulio Disgracias, an offshoot
band that also includes members of Fishbone and
Parliament/Funkadelic.

"You know how there are certain words, when you hear them, they
strike a chord? ‘Nutmeg’ was one of those words for me – it always
made me laugh," says Marshall. "A few years ago we were writing a
tune and all I could hear was the word ‘nutmeg.’ From then on,
everybody around started coming with the nut jokes and the nut
concepts."

While Weapon of Choice’s music is heavily inspired by a
tremendously diverse range of genres, Marshall’s strongest personal
influence is the ’70s funk flavor of such greats as George Clinton
and Parliament/Funkadelic. After all, Marshall literally grew up
with funk all around him.

Because a friend’s father was Parliament/Funkadelic’s treasurer,
Marshall would frequently hang out at the band’s World Funk
Headquarters in Hollywood and visit backstage during funk
festivals. Marshall even appeared on stage during the last major
funk festival at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the early 1980s.

Although Marshall was profoundly influenced by the funk sounds
of the ’70s, he and the rest of Weapon of Choice harbor no regrets
about being too young to perform during funk’s heyday.

"I think we were born right on time," says Marshall. "These are
the nutmeg-nutties and everybody seems to be prime for Nut*meg
music and its anything glows approach because of the staleness that
you find in today’s radio format. People are just ready for music
without any limitations on it."

One of the unique elements of the band’s style is Marshall’s
penchant for humor and wit. Regardless of the severity of a song’s
original inspiration, Marshall always finds room to lighten the
situation with clever and intriguing lyrics.

"The main thing is just have fun and not be serious," he says.
"I like to get the jokes in as much as possible, no matter what the
subject matter of the song is, because I think everything has some
kind of joke in it somewhere."

Marshall derives particular delight from toying with words and
meanings. With lyrics such as, "The thrillsvery glow boy is
thrilled to breath to be rollin’ in dough with you, igloo in the
snow with you, no matter what we do, we’re in the moment with you,"
Marshall loves displaying his linguistic deftness.

Pondering this enchantment with metaphors and word manipulation,
Marshall traces his behavior all the way back to a high school
English class. Faced with a class exercise in which students were
expected to make sentences out of a list of words, Marshall began
his experimentation.

"I flipped every word around and got an ‘F’ as a result," he
says. "I think I’ve been rebelling against that teacher that gave
me the ‘F’ ever since, subconsciously."

Marshall has come a long way since then. After Marshall founded
Weapon of Choice in 1992 with keyboardist Keefus Ciancia, Pearl Jam
guitarist Stone Gossard saw a videotaped performance and quickly
signed the band to his new label, Loosegroove Records.

The band’s first album, "Nutmeg Sez ‘Bozo the Town," was
released in 1994 and drew comparisons to Weapon of Choice’s own
influences such as Frank Zappa and George Clinton. Now, a year
later, Weapon of Choice is already prepared to release its second
full-length album, entitled "Highperspice."

Actually, the band went into the studio planning to record only
one song for a compilation record. But things quickly got rolling,
and soon the single had become a 15-track album.

"We ended up just making something out of nuttin’ like there was
nuttin’ to it,." says Marshall. "One thing led to another and we
had a whole gang of songs. (We) decided we got too much brand
nutrition to stop, so we took that Nut*meg potty plunge to the
other level and just put it down. The rest is highperspice."

As for the future, everything looks bright and pretty nutty.
Asked for his expectations in the coming months, Marshall slipped
into a classic case of tongue-twisting nutspeak, promising plenty
more Weapon of Choice lunacy still to come.

"Butter say whatness, sheer utter nutness from here to utter
nuttiny. Yeah, we’ll be nuttin’ up in nineteen ninety-kicks til
nutever," he says. "We’re just excited that the album’s coming out
and really looking forward to the opportunity to share prop with
the peeps all across the land. Get the Nut*meg potty jumpin’
off."

CONCERT: Weapon of Choice at the Alligator Lounge, Friday, Feb.
2 at 9 p.m. TIX: $8. For more info, call (310) 449-1844.

The band Weapon of Choice includes back row (l-r): Tom-Bone,
Audra, Mark, D-Rek, Finn and front row (l-r): Meganut, Jellybeen
and Keefus.

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