Whenever the members of Prizefight are engaged in conversation, it's best to batten down the hatches and weather out the shit-storm. Potty jokes are told, swearwords are flung, sexual innuendo is tossed and egos are stroked. It's like clockwork.
In the two hours that CityBeat has so far spent with the band at Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Company in Poway, the present crowd-drummer Tom Peart, vocalist-guitarist Steve Peart and bassist Mike Zimmerman (guitarist Ryan Dineen is absent)-has censored themselves seemingly hundreds of times, whether it's a come-on by a male friend ("He and I made out on New Year's but that's a story for another time") or a commentary on Peart family Thanksgivings ("suffice to say, it gets wild") or a bonny lass that paces the room ("Those pants she's wearing are far too, well, I should stop").
It's like John Ashcroft suddenly became the conversational monitor. Or worse yet, someone's mom is in the room.
Like most male 20-somethings, the boys of Prizefight get a kick out of blowing all sense of propriety to hell. In fact, the band has a well-deserved reputation for maniacal pandemonium and racket. It's no wonder their music sounds the way it does.
Rested in the thunderous animalism of punk and the abrasive waves of rock, Prizefight is, by now, wholly embedded in the local San Diego music scene. They are the brothers Hansen, with balls.
"If we added one more brother we would be singing "Mmm Bop,'" says Steve.
Peeking out from below his mess of curly hair, it's not difficult to imagine Tom as a Hansen, actually, but switch time and place to The Casbah on any given Prizefight night and the picture is much more destructively raw.
Though the new band is often billed as such, Prizefight doesn't really "open up" for bands-they destroy the stage long before a headliner hits the deck. And while they aren't officially the most eloquent conversationalists, the authenticity and intensity with which they speak of their music is almost intimidating.
"I want to tour full-time," says Tom. "I want to make this band my living. I want to be on the road all the time. As long as I have some money for rent and I can get my car payment squared away, that's fine. The more we work on this [band], the more we realize that this is what we want to do."
They can't be far off. Getting people interested in Prizefight is about as difficult as convincing Bush to preemptively strike something. Almost unfailingly at their live shows, someone compares them to San Diego's original kings of raw power: Drive Like Jehu. For Prizefight, the comparison is probably old already-but it's an apt comparison, and usually paid as a compliment.
Interest was much harder to come by in the first band the Peart brothers started, called The Force (yes, as in "Use the..., Luke.")
"I remember our grandma mailed our dad's set of drums back to him from her house," Tom recalls. "They had been sitting in her garage for years-they had had a group of Chipmunks living in them, they were so old. So he set them up in the garage and we would all go out and play. We all thought we would be drummers, but eventually Steve got a guitar.
"The Force... was really crappy," he continues. "It was fun, though, and we were young and we learned a lot from other bands."
Zimmerman, a straight-edge adherent ("I don't smoke or drink or do drugs, but it's more of a lifestyle choice. I'm not shooting people at keggers," he says, to my relief), began to jam with the Pearts in their waning days of high school and remembers accompanying them to a few shows at the local Poway Elks Lodge.
"A couple hundred kids would come out and watch these bands," says Steve. "It was only a couple bucks to get in until the cops got called one time. They had to replace the carpet. Whew-wild!"
As he works through the story of Steve's obsession with Billy Corgan and his tendency to imitate said Smashing Pumpkin's nasally drawl, Tom smiles.
"This band has actually made Steve and I closer, believe it or not," he says, grinning. "Steve's got the passion."
"I don't have the passion-you have the passion," Steve retorts.
Then, smirking silence as they acquiesce to sharing the credit.Prizefight performs with North Atlantic, Sleeping People and Vena Cava at The Casbah, 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 20. $7. 619-232-HELL.