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MUSIC : NO MEANS NO : Power Play : The headlining band can be 'very painful.' The real showstopper is the opening duo, No Man.

April 18, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

No Means No lived up to their name. Five days of waiting gave proof to the old cliche that "a watched phone never rings." Their record company said they would call in a couple of days. They didn't. After a couple more days, the record company said they may or may not call. They didn't.

Maybe Jello Biafra, former frantic frontman for the Dead Kennedys will play with No Means No at their Saturday night gig at The Graduate in Isla Vista, maybe not. You see, he sings on the latest No Means No album, and as usual, he's full of more advice than Dear Abby. But would you like to learn the secrets of the universe one word at a time, each followed by a hammer to the head? Sometimes, you gotta suffer for rock 'n' roll. No Means No is very painful.

But a really good band, No Man, is opening. No Man is not a Deadhead's stock answer when people who look like cops ask for extra tickets to the show. It's a power trio minus one, featuring guitarist Roger Miller, no way no king of the road. This Roger Miller is from New England and, with a variety of groups, has issued a double digit number of albums.

Miller is a low-budget kind of guy. It's just Miller and a bass player crusing around from sea to shining sea, entertaining the locals. Whether the drummer's union will be picketing is unknown. No Man is definitely not a thrash band, although Miller sometimes plays his guitar at Warp 10 intensity. No Man music features plenty of hooks, melodies and harmonies--hey, it's rock 'n' roll.

And Miller had this to say about No Man from a phone booth in Santa Fe where they shared the bill with Michael On Fire and the Paladins:

How's the record, the tour and all that?

Everything is going good; our record label, SST, is really good. They have global distribution and booking. The new record, our second on SST, is doing OK. I've released over 10 albums so far--four or five with Mission of Burma, three with Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, some experimental stuff on New Alliance Records, then these two on SST.

Who goes to your gigs, angry bald people or what?

No, we're not a slam band. We attract a variety of people who are interested in the edge of experimental rock.

A lot of times "experimental" means "can't sing, can't play." How is your music experimental?

Well, I guess that's one thing that people misunderstand about my music. I have been labeled experimental, but there's always lots of melodies and my music is really grounded in something very solid.

That's a lot of noise for just two guys--that's it, a two-man band?

That's right. There's just two of us. We're a power duo. Russ Smith plays bass and sings. We're just two guys in a small van on the road. Even though we're sort of commercial but not that popular, we can still make a profit. I'm heavily into economics.

How did you get started in the music business?

It was the only thing I was good at, plus the only thing I'm interested in.

What's the best and worst thing about your job?

Well, the best thing is that I can just be the most me that I can. The worst thing is if nobody listens and you don't make any money.

Describe No Man music.

We're a rock band, very high energy, power duo. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Do any lost and/or drunken cowboys ever think you're that other Roger Miller and request "King of the Road?"

Funny thing, I used to do "King of the Road" sort of as a joke. Maybe I'll work it up for tonight's show. Roger Miller actually lives in Santa Fe, but I doubt if he'll show up tonight.

You have one song called "S.O.B."--is that for anyone in particular?

Nope, just a feeling I had at the time.

What would be your dream and nightmare gig?

My dream gig would be to play with Pink Floyd when they still had Syd Barrett, and maybe MC5 and No Man. That would be a great bill. We just had our nightmare gig the other night in Shreveport, La. The opening band did all '50s cover songs. When we played, we drove all the people away.

If you were a movie, which movie would you be?

I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you my favorite movie, "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T."

Ever played Santa Barbara before?

Nope.

* WHERE AND WHEN

No Man along with Rogue Cheddar and No Means No play at The Graduate, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, Sunday at 8 p.m., and cover is $10. Call 967-7265 for information.

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