The Master Plan with the Pariahs at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, December 2). $9. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
What do you get when you cross the misfit metal of the Dictators with the garage-derived Superrock sound of the Fleshtones? If you guessed a beer-soaked room full of sweaty party people shouting and shimmying to raunchy R&B covers, then you've got the Master Plan's number.
Admittedly, there's nothing revolutionary about what the Dictators' Andy Shernoff is doing with his Fleshtones pals Keith Streng and Bill Milhizer in their latest side project, the Master Plan.
They haven't come up with a feasible alternative to fossil fuels, nor are they presenting a way to stop the spread of West Nile virus on the recently released Colossus Of Destiny (Total Energy) album. The plan is simply to knock out some good-time rock 'n' roll, and they've already proven themselves masters of the three-chord craft.
"Keith and I have been buddies for a long time, and he lives just around the corner from me," explains Shernoff about the origin of the collaboration.
"Whenever we'd get together, we'd jokingly make up band names and think of possible titles of the songs they'd play and what their albums would be called. One such group was the Master Plan, who we thought should have an album named Colossus Of Destiny. Somehow or other, that made-up band became a reality."
Streng was responsible for making the fantasy band a real live proposition by bringing in Waxing Poetics guitarist Paul Johnson, who'd been overseeing a Fleshtones recording session.
Before Johnson tore down his Brooklyn basement studio, Streng, Shernoff and Milhizer dropped by with a few party-rockin' tunes and ideas for covering songs by Lloyd Price, Peppermint Harris and the Midnighters, and before you could say "Annie had a baby," the Colossus Of Destiny magically appeared. It's a dream come true for Shernoff.
"In the Dictators I have to write every song and then produce the recordings, so to be in a band with good friends where everyone writes and sings is a wonderful thing. It takes the pressure off me. This is really fun.
"We've each got other things we're involved in, so the Master Plan is only going to be together for, say, 10 to 15 shows a year. So far, it's been a blast."
The other projects that have been keeping Shernoff busy lately are a Dictators live album and an early demos package as well as a new television cartoon series for which he's just created the theme music.
"I don't consider the Master Plan to be a 'moonlighting' gig because I don't really have a full-time thing that pays all my bills and takes up most of my time. Some friends of mine were working on a new cartoon series called the Supers about some New York apartment superintendents with special powers, and they asked me if I could come up with the theme music.
"I like putting myself in unfamiliar situations that cause me to stretch creatively - that's how you grow as a musician."
Shernoff isn't concerned about what long-time Dictators fans might think of his detour into the world of animation, which, judging by the phenomenal success of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The Incredibles, seems to be where the big money is right now.
"There was a time when musicians wouldn't want their music to be associated with a cartoon, like that's selling out. But these days people are making tons of money doing this stuff and commercials, too.
"I think it's a sign that rock 'n' roll has matured, and so have the musicians making it. When you get older, your morals tend to slip and you don't think so much about the art but what's right for you."