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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

[whitespace] Consolidated
Coming of Rage: Consolidated has always been interested in provoking confrontation through its lyrics and its music.

Mistakes Were Made:
Consolidated dropped, releases 'Dropped'

ADAM SHERBURNE OF Consolidated is trying to make sense out of the chaos that surrounded his stridently political industrial band during its major-label go-round in 1994. "Every day was a huge mistake in some way," Sherburne reminisces. "Signing with London was a mistake, but it was unavoidable. It was a financial and economic situation created by the previous five years that had killed us. You just can't avoid making tough choices. Being in a pop band is not the best way to go about getting a message out. I've found better ways to make it work."

Let's get caught up. Drummer Phil Stier left Consolidated and now runs Toast, a successful recording studio in San Francisco. Beat maker Mark Pistel is involved with the band behind the console. Sherburne is the only original member left. In concert, Sherburne's guitar and vocals are joined by drummer Todd Bryerton and bassist Michael Dunne. A new Consolidated album, Dropped, has been released on Sol3 Records.

"Phil wanted to move onto other things," Sherburne says, calling from Portland. "Mark doesn't tour with me anymore. He wasn't into politics. Pistel's more about getting out of bed, getting on the pipe and making cool sounds. He's always carried this [political band] mantle somewhat begrudgingly. Now, he doesn't have to take shit from hostile activists."

Confrontation was what the Bay Area band specialized in during the early '90s. Consolidated's marriage of industrial music and hip-hop added weight to its leftist agenda, which the members discussed at length after the shows in memorable open-mic sessions. Thematically, Dropped focuses on the pathological consequences of manhood ("Tin Man"), homophobia ("I'm Sorry, Mat"), domestic violence ("Fractured Fairytales," "Coming of Rage"), prostitution and pornography ("Recovered Memory"), suicide ("One Way Out") and violent male rites of passage ("Schnitzel Boy"). Much of Dropped was culled from Sherburne's experience as a volunteer for the Portland Women's Crisis Line and the Liberation Collective, an animal-rights group. "I get a lot of inspiration from people I see doing this work around the world," Sherburne says. "I think they appreciate there are artists out there making music for the same reason an activist would."

The music on Dropped ranges from delta blues to rock to industrial. Sherburne acknowledges that old-school Consolidated fans might find Dropped soft. "It's always been disconcerting that people don't get the music statements we make, which are equally political with the messages," Sherburne says. "For me that's always been important that music comes first. I do feel there's important historical influences I like to mash together. That's why you'll hear the rock with the hip-hop with the blues or the techno. [Those are] just tools to make music."

Too many bands, Sherburne says, use "this predictable attack of big guitars and beats to get some predictable response. I've been there, done that, so I'm just trying to step away from that tidal wave of trend. We rock harder now than we ever did in certain ways. The dynamic of having quiet and mellow stuff is equally important."

Ya Don't Stop

Live hip-hop is hitting back in a major way, thanks to some open-minded bookers. The Hieroglyphics (Del, Souls of Mischief, Casual, Prose) perform on Jan. 23 at Palookaville in Santa Cruz. Skitzo (Persia, Omolara, Bon Swae), Twisted Mind Kids, Subcontent, Solrac, DNA, Illism (featuring Parallax), Rasta w/Hookah Units and the All Purpose DJs play Smokefest '98 at the Cactus Club on Jan. 25. Then, for what should be one of the most anticipated local hip-hop shows of the year, Common, the supreme DJ team X-ecutioners (with Rob Swift, Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse) and Rahzel (beat-box extraordinare of the Roots crew) rock Palookaville on Feb. 1.

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From the January 15-21, 1998 issue of Metro.

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