Alternative band Mazzy Star is turning up on radio in spite of itself

March 11, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

David Roback has never been one to run with the pack. In the early '80s, when most of the L.A. underground was doing the Huntington Beach strut to Black Flag, Roback was lending his guitar to the lush psychedelia of the Rain Parade. A few years later, when the hipsters were bopping to Oingo Boingo and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roback was busy with the delicate chamber rock of Opal.

So Roback really isn't sure what to make of the fact that Mazzy Star -- the band he formed with singer Hope Sandoval four years ago -- seems to have found a niche on radio. Granted, the band isn't getting anywhere near the airplay of Smashing Pumpkins or dTC the Gin Blossoms, but Roback is amazed that his band has broken through at all.

Could it be that Mazzy Star's dark, moody sound has suddenly become accessible?

"I don't really look, personally, to contemporary radio myself to find any kind of a meaningful definition of accessibility," answers Roback, over the phone from Los Angeles. "We've always just had the attitude that we weren't going to be played by radio. So we never really tried to fit in. And it still doesn't really seem like we fit it.

"I'm glad that people play it," he adds. "If I'd turn on the radio -- which I rarely do -- and I heard Hope singing, I'd be glad to hear her on the radio. So in that sense, I think it's cool. But I still don't really know where we fit in."

Admittedly, Mazzy Star doesn't fit into any obvious pigeon hole. There's an astonishing range to the band's current album, "So Tonight That I Might See," with songs offering everything from buzzing atmospherics of "Bells Ring" to the ghostly thrum of "Blue Light," to the dark vitality of "Wasted." And even though the band draws from traditional rock, blues and country sources, the sound that emerges is unlike any other band on the alternative scene.

"Well, you know, it's just what we sound like," says Roback. "Hope's voice has a particular sound, and I think that has a lot to do with it, because she has a very unique voice, a very unique style of her own."

Roback says Mazzy Star doesn't take a typical rock-band attitude toward recording. "I think some bands sort of envision what they're doing sort of as the backdrop for some kind of party, or something festive like that," he says. "And that's cool. That's fine. We're into that sometimes.

"But we're not always into that. We don't really conceive of our music in that context. These are just the type of songs that we felt like putting on the album, you know? And I guess that does say something about us."

Unique sound

To get a sample of Mazzy Star's singular sound, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone telephone, punch in the four digit code 6128 after you hear the greeting.

Mazzy Star

When: Tuesday, March 15; doors open at 7 p.m.

Where: Camden Yards Concert Hall (formerly Hammerjacks)

Tickets: $5.99

Call: (410) 659-7625 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets.

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