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MUSIC LOCK UP : Rock Unlocked : Brian Grillo and his punk cohorts had been with Geffen, but now they're looking for a label.

February 14, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

V ocalist Brian Grillo's impassioned, soulful vocals breathe life into every molten groove -- and his sultry crooning is matched only by his death-defying gymnastic feats. Swinging overhead, back flipping across the stage, he is a master dancer and choreographer -- a renegade punk avenger . . .

Well, anyway, that's what the record company bio sheet says about Lock Up. The unnamed writer certainly knows a lot of adjectives, but I wouldn't put my name on it.

From the Jack Webb School of Rock Journalism, here are the facts concerning Lock Up. The band will be playing the Carnaval Club Tuesday night--it will be the band's third appearance at the Santa Barbara hangout. Lock Up had been signed to Geffen Records--now they're not. Their one and only record is entitled "Something Bitchin' This Way Comes." Lock Up recently toured the country, opening for T.S.O.L. and others. The guitar player has a B.A. in social sciences from Harvard. The band has a new drummer.

Lock Up music is sort of like Eddie Money impersonating Bruce Springsteen while a Red Hot Chili Peppers' record plays at James Brown's house. It rocks. It's funky. It's loud. There are no Indigo Girls covers and the crowd does not necessarily wear black.

In a recent poorly timed telephone interview right in the middle of the Bruins game, Grillo (clearly no UCLA fan) discussed the life and times of his band:

Who wrote that bio sheet?

Hey, I don't know, man. It was some record company person. It was really stupid. We wrote our own bio and it was great, then they changed it all around.

So what's new with Lock Up?

Well, we've been touring a lot; and it seems like we play almost every night. We've been all over the United States and Canada, playing with T.S.O.L., Urban Dance Squad and Dread Zeppelin. Our album is still selling pretty well. And we've got a new drummer, John. John the drummer--I don't even know his last name but he gives us a great backbeat.

How did the band get started?

I started the band five years ago because, basically, Chris Beebe, the bass player, and I liked the same kind of music--Alice Cooper, KISS, Iggy Pop, Aretha Franklin and like that. I got the name from a '30s gangster picture. Anyway, we were playing in Orange County one night and this record company representative named Anna Statman spotted us and signed us to Geffen. Our game plan at that time was to keep playing, and hopefully get better and then wait for something to happen.

Most unsigned bands want to get signed. Your band was signed and wanted to be unsigned. Now you are. What happened?

If bands don't take off right away, you're on the back burner at Geffen. We wanted more promotional help from them than they could give us. And now Geffen is part of MCA and all the staffers are changing--we're just pretty happy to be free right now. We learned a lot and now we're attracting that "basic label interest."

Can music change the world?

I don't think it can change the world, but it can be an influence. But then again, if 20 million people buy and listen to your records, it can be an influence. We try to present positive influences, sort of an escape to hope. We're a confrontational band that's funky and fun. We try to put good messages in our songs because you have to make the best of this world.

Is Lock Up an alternative band?

I don't think of us as being alternative; actually, we're very accessible. We incorporate this groove thing, some hip hop, some rap and some soul, but plugged in and real loud without drum machines and synthesizers.

What's the best and worst thing about being in a rock 'n' roll band?

The best thing is that you get to play music and do what you love to do. You get to pay your rent by playing music. The worst thing is not being able to have the money to do all the things you want to do, knowing you have the product to make money. We've been across the country twice and we've earned a lot of grass-roots appeal.

Who goes to Lock Up shows?

Well, we get a lot of skinheads, and a lot of girls that are secretaries by day and rock goddesses by night, also a lot of farmers. Basically, we attract all the underdogs of society. Our shows are pretty wild. Everybody in the band is really good--we just don't stand there. Neither does the crowd; there's always a lot of dancing.

Your guitar player went to Harvard?

I'm really not sure, but he probably did. He and I are completely opposite. We don't talk about college, but I know he went somewhere for four years. He was always in bands the whole time, so he always knew what he wanted to do. He practices for eight hours a day.

What was your strangest gig?

Once we were playing the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. and went on as Jane's Addiction, and the audience didn't even know the difference.

What's next for Lock Up?

We want to make another record. We have about 80 songs, so we have enough tunes. The tough part would be in deciding which songs to put on the record. We'll probably stay in the western half of the United States for awhile--no more two-month tours for us. Sleeping four people to a room--you get to know each other really well.

What do you think about Sinead O'Connor boycotting the Grammys and the whole Milli Vanilli fiasco?

I think it's really commendable what she's saying. There are so many great bands out there. The whole thing has to do with selling records, not talent. It's the MTV generation.

If Lock Up was a movie, which movie would they be?

"Rebel Without A Cause."

* WHERE AND WHEN

Lock Up, Tuesday at the Carnaval Club, 634 State St., Santa Barbara, 965-8422. Doors open at 9 p.m. $5.

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