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Secret Chiefs Cook Up A Diverse Dish

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Putting Secret Chiefs 3 on the road is no easy feat for group leader Trey Spruance — partly because SC3 is several bands in one.

Spruance, an alumnus of Mr. Bungle, has created a Frank Zappa-esque musical universe in which several different subgroups exist under the same umbrella, with a stylistic sweep that runs from blistering death metal to electronic and Middle Eastern stylings on the five albums it’s released since 1996. Not surprisingly, turning it into a touring unit is challenging.

“It’s ... hard,” Spruance, 37, says with a laugh. “I’m real lucky because we have lots of musicians who are pretty willing to do this thing, but it’s hard because there’s people who must be paid and other people who are willing to do it and just see what happens with the money.

“So the weird thing is having these different tiers where you’re paying people different amounts. Fortunately, everyone’s pretty cool with it, so it works out.”

The latest version of SC3 is eight members strong, and Spruance says they’ll have new material to play — some of which will be released this fall. He also plans to start releasing separate albums by SC3’s component parts, but says he has no trouble managing the empire he’s created.

“It just gets bigger all the time,” Spruance notes, “but it’s not an artifi cial thing. It’s kind of going according to a plan I laid out at least 12 years ago — although I didn’t originally know that Secret Chiefs was going to be the band all these other bands were gonna be spawned from.

“I had always planned on doing them. What has changed is they became subsidiaries or aspects of Secret Chiefs rather than their own things — which is cool, but a little confusing for some people.”

Secret Chiefs 3 and Sleeptime Gorilla Museum perform Sunda (March 11) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call (248) 544-3030 or visit www.the magicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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