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2/9/2006

Rock/Pop > Feature

LOUD AND CLEAR

 

"Have you guys seen King Kong yet?" asks Megaphone's lead guitarist Paul Smith. "It's amazing. I'm not kidding, I cried and just wanted to go home and hug my dog."

Not exactly what you'd think of when you think of the quintessential rock star, but within the context of Megaphone, such overt sentimentality is fitting. The idea of regular guys who cry at movies and then morph into rock stars certainly isn't new, but it's a notion that fits this band. Megaphone truly is a bunch of guys who know how to rock and don't mind being a little mawkish about it.

Convened by former members of well-known area pop-rock groups like Precious, My Hotel Year, Dynaride and 3AE, Megaphone includes Smith (who was also a touring guitarist with Seven Mary Three and VonRay), guitarist/singer/founder Matt Bloodwell, drummer Matt Brown and bassist James Woodrich. The quartet came together to make straight-up modern rock that, according to the band, is not unlike Butch Walker or the Foo Fighters.

Each band member was looking for something different than their previous bands, particularly Bloodwell. "I was becoming unhappy with Precious, and I had been writing songs that I wanted to write in secret." Once Precious dissolved, Bloodwell said that he sought out the other members to create the brand of loud guitar rock he'd always wanted to be a part of.

The group just released its first full-length album, For Cryin' Out Loud, with a sound that stays true to Megaphone's influences, maintaining the defiant-yet-accessible arena rock attitude of Kiss and Cheap Trick. At the same time, the album includes Bloodwell's tender lyrics about being an outsider and reveling in the unconventional in such songs as "Uncool" and "Freak."

Even before the disc's release, Megaphone has prospered, gathering up fans both locally and throughout the region. This was not by accident.

"Packaging, mastering, the whole thing, we were intent on making it seem as if we had already made it," Bloodwell said of the band's look-successful-be-successful philosophy. "We had most of the CD finished before we did our first show. We wanted to do the recording first to help us focus our sound before we started playing live." As Bloodwell speaks, he chooses his words carefully and postures with purpose. It's intriguing to try and square this image of the conscientious planner with his role as the songwriting force behind the band.

The other members use self-centered jokes to put a patina of irony on just how unironically they rock. Such statements are an extension of the band's stage presence – the twirling drumsticks and rock-god poses are part of the arena rock mentality – but even though they try to laugh it off, it's clear they revel in the power a loudly played pop song can have over an audience. The indie-rock bashfulness of the lowercased "m" in the band's logo is at odds with the fact that, when the huge canvas bearing their name is draped behind the band onstage, it's backlit by the group's lighting designer.

Since the band's slot at FMF last year opening for Everclear, Megaphone has certainly been heard. They were twice profiled on "Mel's Favorite Band" on O-Rock 105.9-FM and have found their music showing up on podcasts worldwide (even scoring two Top 10 placements on the podcast-centered Podsafe Audio site). In the meantime, they're working on new material and will be shooting a video for "Uncool" at their Feb. 20 Hard Rock Live show. But it's their upcoming appearance on a Butch Walker/Marvelous 3 tribute album that has them truly excited.

"Thinking about all that makes us giddy little girls," Smith admits.

Megaphone (with Seven Mary Three)
PredFest, 5:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 11
TD Waterhouse Centre
also 9 pm Monday, Feb. 20
Hard Rock Live

music@orlandoweekly.com
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