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A ROQer's East Coast invasion

September 14, 2003|Steve Hochman | Special to the Times

It won't be hard to spot Lisa Worden backstage at the KROQ-FM (106.7) Inland Invasion concert Saturday at the Glen Helen Hyundai Pavilion.

She'll be the one stammering in an awkward attempt to chat with the Cure's leader, Robert Smith. Not that she hasn't met him before -- as KROQ's music director since early 1995, Worden's hung out with Smith numerous times, as she has with just about every major figure in the world of modern rock.

"I was convinced I was going to marry Robert Smith when I was in high school," says the Diamond Bar native. "I got to KROQ and nearly lost it the first time someone said 'You're coming to the Cure show and meeting the band.' "

You'll also be able to recognize Worden for all the congratulations and goodbyes she'll be getting. This show, celebrating KROQ's 25 years on the air with a roster of acts that span most of that time, will be her last major event with the station.

At the end of October, she'll move to Washington, D.C., to become program director at WHFS-FM, a like-minded but less successful station. It's a major step for Worden, 33, who had no radio experience when KROQ program director Kevin Weatherly picked her to fill the key slot at what has been the nation's most influential rock outlet.

Worden's personal transition comes at a time when many are wondering whether rock is also in transition. Last year's rise of the neo-garage world, led by the White Stripes and the Strokes, seemed to open the doors to new sounds, and this year has seen a new presence for bands such as Interpol and Hot Hot Heat, bearing the influence of Joy Division, the Cure and a host of other early-'80s acts that made up the core of KROQ's classic years.

In fact Hot Hot Heat, the British Columbian band is currently the most-played and most-requested act on KROQ.Both Hot Hot Heat and Interpol, as well as other relatively new arrivals Dashboard Confessional, Kings of Leon and Jet, are on the Invasion bill, alongside such old-timers as Duran Duran, Psychedelic Furs and Echo & the Bunnymen, in addition to the Cure.

Do those new bands represent new directions for KROQ -- or rock in general?

"Right now Hot Hot Heat is doing awesome, because it's fresh and different the same way the White Stripes were fresh and different," Worden says.

New shades of Pink

Many in the music business are citing Pink's upcoming "Try This" as the most anticipated album of the fall, even without hearing it or knowing much about it. But while she did reunite with Linda Perry, the producer who guided much of her 2001 breakthrough album "M!ssundaztood," the bulk of the album (due Nov. 11) spurs from a perhaps surprising collaboration with Tim Armstrong, the singer-guitarist of Rancid.

Armstrong produced and co-wrote nine of the album's songs, including the first single, "Trouble," a playful track set to reach radio Sept. 29.

Armstrong and Pink connected earlier this year when a friend invited her to a video shoot for the Transplants, Armstrong's hip-hop-tinged side group with Blink-182's Travis Barker and Rob Ashton.

"Tim came up to me and said, 'I've got some songs for you,' " Pink says. "When the Transplants were on tour opening for the Foo Fighters, I went on the road with them. Tim had a studio on the bus, and we wrote and recorded four songs right off. We did 10 songs in a week, and a half and that was the bulk of the record."

Her previous album, Pink says, was a traumatic experience for its revealing, personal tone, and she wanted something different this time.

"What I didn't want was to make another 'M!ssundaztood,' as far as it being heavy and emotional."

Here come the novelists

Literary prankster Neal Pollack is tackling the world of rock and, gulp, rock criticism with his new novel, "Never Mind the Pollacks," a tale of two rival journalists. On Oct. 7 he's releasing an album with the same title, under the group name the Neal Pollack Invasion. The 12 songs include satire/homage originals in the mold of, among others, Lou Reed and the Sex Pistols.

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