Q&A with the Act’s Mike Shine

Written by Christopher Carbone on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.


I’m
STARING at the cover of the Act’s Armageddon Hop (Last Wave)
and thinking that Mike Shine, lead vocalist and guitarist, is an oracle. Let
me explain. The cover depicts a guy in a politician’s suit wearing a gas
mask, holding a missile and pointing in an Uncle Sam-wants-you kinda way. In
the foreground, four smiley guys carrying guns march off to war while four women
pirouette in skimpy outfits. It seems oddly prescient.


"I
would say that I was a prophet," Shine replies, but "it was so obvious
that we were headed for a really big fall." The album’s title track,
a bouncy electro-rock number that you could two-step to, was written in 1999:
"The world is in the crapper, but I’m making seven figures a year…
Neutron missiles flying to and fro/Anthrax gas going up my nose/Looks like there
ain’t no place to run/Might as well have a little fun/So do the hop hop
Armageddon hop."


"If
history repeats itself," Shine says, "the second half of the 90s looked
like the period right before the Great Depression and World War II. And we know
how that turned out."


Three years
ago, Shine moved from Philadelphia to New York with the intention of starting
a band that combined elements of all his favorite acts. He ranks Devo and David
Bowie at the top of his list. He hooked up with his bandmates (Ivan Evangelista
on bass and keyboards, Matthew Joseph on guitar and Liorr Shulman on drums)
through an ad in the Voice and an open audition.


The Act
coalesced early last year, and Armageddon Hop, produced by Wharton Tiers
(Sonic Youth, White Zombie), came out in March. Shine enjoyed working with the
veteran indie producer. "I think he comes from the Steve Albini school
of producing, where he lets you do your thing and makes it sound as good as
humanly possible on record," he says.


Their sound
is a mixture of pop-punk, garage and cock rock, with an electro twist and some
Velvet Underground glam. A friend of mine calls it tech-cock. On "Annihilation,"
robotic vocals, driving guitars and sirens back lines like, "Skin made
of steel, eyes made of ore/The perfect war machine, but now there’s no
more war/All enemies are dead, and there’s no one left to hate/There’s
not much use for peace on a mercenary’s plate." Then again, Shine
sings about finding love, flogging it and losing it on "Catalonia"
and "Love Slave."


The Act’s
flamboyant and theatrical performances–gas masks onstage, spaced-out Elvis-in-Vegas
getups–can warm up the too-coolest crowds. "We’re so silly and
fast and wild, with our costumes and our stage moves," Shine says, "that
nodding your head seems kind of dumb when we’re up there making such fools
of ourselves."


The presskit
says the Act is making "socially conscious rock ’n’ roll."
When I ask Shine who else is doing that these days he jokes, "Pink–because
she tells us it’s time to ‘get this party started,’ and what
else could be more important these days?"


Shine tells
me that the Act started out as a 100-percent concept band. "Our message
is that in the midst of all this unhappiness and chaos and craziness, the best
defense is to dance [and] to revel in youth." But then he adds, "There’s
such a deluge of media overload every day…it’s important to not let
yourself be entertained into oblivion. A zoned-out, preoccupied population is
a crooked government’s wet dream."


The band’s
back in the studio. Shine says they’ve sobered up since Sept. 11.


"We
care more these days about making people get lost in music and dancing, and
about giving them an escape from what’s become a really tough world."



The Act
play Weds., July 31, 8 p.m., at Arlene Grocery, 95 Stanton St. (betw. Ludlow
& Orchard Sts.), 358-1633.


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