With a name like Every Mother's Nightmare, image can be big problem.
"We're kind of viewed like some thrash heavy metal metal band -- death metal or something," said guitarist Steve Malone.
It's an easy, yet false, assumption to make. The album cover is full of dark features and the band's gothic logo, featuring an angry skull, certainly don't help to sell it as anything even remotely mainstream.
But all it takes is one listen to Nightmare's self-titled debut album -- just your basic Southern-influenced hard rock with a couple of power ballads thrown in -- to realize that this is one band that shouldn't be judged by its cover.
"The real truth to the name is that we didn't have one and we were creating a lot of stupid little problems for our manager," said Malone, whose band plays at Hammerjacks Saturday night. "He turned to us and and said, 'You know what you are -- you're every mother's nightmare.'"
Although the four band members -- including guitarist Rick Ruhl, bassist Mark McMurtry and drummer Jim Phipps -- admit that it was "kind of corny" at first, it grew into something of a pet name.
The band began in Nashville, Tenn., less than two years ago when Malone and Ruhl began writing songs in a warehouse room. When the word got out about four long-haired blonde guys in Tennessee playing good rock music, Arista Records president XTC Clive Davis flew in to see first-hand what the buzz was about.
After one showcase performance -- in which Phipps hit him in the stomach with a thrown drumstick -- Davis signed the band, took the stick and Ruhl's sweaty T-shirt and said this band would be the next big thing.
Thus far, it's worked out pretty well with Nightmare scoring big on rock radio and MTV with a tune called "Love Can Make You Blind."
But Malone knows it's just the beginning.
"The album got released in May, and we're finally getting our name out there," he said. "We're just going to stay on the road and keep working hard."
The concert calendar . . .
Also scheduled at Hammerjacks are Trixter (Dec. 28 and 30), Don Dokken (Dec. 29) and Child's Play (Dec. 31).
Coming to Max's On Broadway are Innocence Mission (tonight), Gimme The Gun (tomorrow) and Steve Forbert (Sunday), Obstructed View (Dec. 31).
The Capital Centre welcomes Salt 'N Pepa with six other bands (Dec. 30), ZZ Top (Jan. 13 and 14) and Keith Sweat, Bell Biv Devoe and Johnny Gill (Jan. 24). That same soulful trio of performers comes to the Baltimore Arena on New Year's Eve.