FUEL with 3 DOORS DOWN and OLEANDER at the Warehouse (1 Jarvis), Sunday (March 11). $26.99. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
you can bet the members of yank alt-rock combo Fuel allowed themselves a wry smile when their second album, last year's scorching Something Like Human, starting zooming up Billboard's modern rock chart.
The quartet's debut, and especially their single Shimmer, had the good fortune to be among the most-played songs of 98, but the band also arrived at the precise moment when bean-counters at so-called alternative radio across North America were giving acts like 311, Fastball, Toad the Wet Sprocket and their insipid like the false impression that they might have real careers.
No doubt sensing a backlash was inevitable, Fuel wisely hit the road, playing with anyone who would have them -- up to and including Aerosmith -- thus honing their musicianship and building a fan base that included people without de rigueur facial piercings.
By the time the Pennsylvania-reared group got round to recording Something Like Human, they were in top form and able to hammer out guitarist Carl Bell's compositions with thunder and confidence, which is a great deal more than anyone can say about Guster or Tonic.
"It was rather nice not to be part of that whole one-hit-wonder thing," confirms affable Fuel singer Brett Scallions through the fog of a head cold.
Fuel have no problem speaking their minds. For instance, they refused to contribute their song Innocent (which appears on their latest) to the film Cruel Intentions because, after viewing it, they thought it sucked, possible crossover fans and quickie cash grabs be damned.
"We just said, "Fuck that, we're keeping it for ourselves,'" Scallions chuckles. "Why should anyone else reap the benefits of our good song?"
It's one thing for an established indie artist like Lars Frederiksen to rant about major labels, but it's different when you happen to be signed to one, as Fuel is to Sony.
Yet Scallions's stand is clear. "Bands have no power any more," laments the beau of former MuchMusic VJ, now VH1 star Rebecca Rankin, whom Scallions admits he "loves to death."
"The musicians are the ones allowing these people to have their jobs, and yet many of those people don't care about music at all. They're only interested in the reflected glory and the money, and they're willing to fuck you any way they can.
"We've established ourselves and we still haven't made any money off our records. Records cost a lot. It's all recoupable, and it takes a lot of time to make that money back, which is why something like Napster, though great in theory, represents just another means of our not getting paid.
"We want the same things as everyone else: to marry our girlfriends, have children and know our kids are going to grow up going to good schools in good neighbourhoods. I think we have a right to expect that, even as working musicians."*
firstname.lastname@example.orgSelf-determined rockers beat jinx By KIM HUGHES