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Detroit Pop City On Display At Festival

Of the Oakland Press

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Detroit Rock City becomes Detroit Pop City this week. And that’s not a bad thing.

International Pop Overthrow (IPO), a festival that celebrates the melody-oriented pop side of rock ’n’ roll, makes its second annual visit to the Detroit area when it takes up residence at Paycheck’s Lounge in Hamtramck. Throughout four days, the club will host 33 bands, 26 of which hail from the Metro Detroit area and three more from outstate Michigan.

Their message: It’s OK to say you’re a pop band, and even better to play it.

“People hear the word ‘pop’ and they think of Britney Spears and *NSYNC and all of that,” says David Bash, who started organizing IPO shows in 1998 in Los Angeles — naming them after a 1991 album by the now-defunct Chicago band Material Issue — and has since branched out to more than a dozen U.S. cities and the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, where the Beatles got their start.

“People forget that the Beatles were considered a pop band. For us, in a nutshell, it’s melodic rock ’n’ roll that features strong hooks, choruses, harmonies — the kind of songs that stick in your head after they’re over. It definitely hearkens back to a time when good, strong pop songs were being played on the radio.”

With its strong underground and garage rock scenes, Bash, 50, says Detroit was “a natural” to host IPO. The four-day schedule can be a bit daunting, however, so here’s four bands to pay attention to over the festival’s 2009 run in these parts...


Home base: Ferndale

Band members: Brad Jendza, vocals; Mike Elgert, guitar and vocals; Rick Browarski, guitar; John Burns, bass/vocals; Mark Christopher, keyboards; Karl Crafton, drums

Influences: The Beatles, Queen, Jellyfish, Kiss, David Bowie, Cheap Trick

Why it’s OK to be a pop band: “Pop is permissive,” Elgert says. “You can rock, you can sing a beautiful melody, you can dance. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

Latest release: “Horses For Courses.”

Hear ’em at: www.classthreeoverbite.com or www.myspace. com/classthreeoverbite

IPO show: 8 p.m. Thursday (April 9)


Home base: Ann Arbor and Ferndale:

Band members: Zach Curd, vocals and keyboards; Dave Lawson, vocals and guitar; Will Yates, vocals and bass; Adam Kempa, drums

Influences: Earth Wind & Fire, Jellyfish, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello

Why it’s OK to be a pop band: “Three-minute pop songs are a big part of what makes the world go ’round, culturally,” Curd notes. “We’re proud to be a part of that. Besides, most bands are pop bands anyway — they just don’t realize it.”

Latest release: “Stars of Stage and Screen”

Hear ’em at: www.myspace. com/thepopproject

IPO show: 11 p.m. Friday (April 10)


Home base: Livonia

Band members: Chris Richards, guitar and vocals; Todd Holmes, bass; Larry Grodsky, drums

Influences: The Who, Tommy Keene, Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Why it’s OK to be a pop band: “It’s all we know and love,” Richards explains. “Pop music generally follows the guidelines of impactful melodies, harmonies and guitars that jangle even when distorted. It’s the lineage that makes power pop exist, keeping a tradition of melody around stemming from the masters I like the Who, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Zombies and the Beach Boys. That spirit has prospered — (well, lived on — for a few decades there after and we’re glad and proud to be a part of it.

Latest release: “Sad Sounds of the Summer”

Hear ‘em at: www. myspace.com/chrisrichardsandthesubtractions

IPO show: 8 p.m. Saturday (April 11)


Home base: Sterling Heights and Allen Park. Band members: Vince Frederick, vocals and guitar; Ryan Hurnevich, bass and vocals; Brian Thunders, drums Influences: “Too many to list,” according to Frederick, “but we sure like rock ‘n’ roll music.” Why it’s OK to be a pop band: “It’s OK to be a pop band because there are no limitations on what you can do musically as a band,” Frederick says. Latest release: “Don’t Need S Your Love” Hear ’em at: www. myspace.com/thesingles

IPO show: 11:30 p.m. Saturday (April 11)

The International Pop Overthrow takes place Wednesday through Saturday (April 8-11) at Paycheck’s Lounge, 2932 Caniff, Hamtramck. Admission is $8 per night. Call (313) 874-0909 or visit www.internationalpopoverthrow.com.

The schedule includes (an asterisk (*) designates act is from the Detroit area):


8 p.m. — Andy Reed 8:30 p.m. —Your Gracious Host* 9 p.m. — The Starfire Band* 9:30 p.m. — Fig* 10 p.m. — The Prime Ministers* 10:30 p.m. — All Right Tokyo* 11 p.m. — The Romeo Flynns*


8 p.m — Class Three Overbite* 8:30 p.m. — Trick 9* 9 p.m. — Sunday Painters* 9:30 p.m. — Special Delivery* 10 p.m. — Michael Seger & Band* 10:30 p.m. — The Rogue Satellites* 11 p.m. — The Thunderchickens


7:30 p.m. — Jeff Rolka 8 p.m. — Barry Holdship (of Let’s Talk About Girls)* 8:30 p.m. — The Secrets* 9 p.m. — Bazooka Jones* 9:30 p.m. — The Respectables* 10 p.m. — Spy Radio* 10:30 p.m. — Manolete* 11 p.m. — The Pop Project* 11 p.m. — Those Transatlantics*


7:30 p.m. — Leisure McCorkle 8 p.m. — Chris Richards & The Subtractions 8:30 p.m. — Jeremy 9 p.m. — Fireking 10 p.m. — The Lessmores* 10:30 p.m. — Citizen Smile* 11 p.m. — Philo-San* 11:30 p.m. — The Singles*

Web Site: www.internationalpopoverthrow.com

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