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December 9, 1997

Madhatter.  Streetbeat.

This week I have a feature story on a band I've been eager to cover for a while. Due to the length of the story, I'll keep it short and sweet here.

Okay, the Madhatter Tip-Top 5 is coming at you. Since this issue will carry us into 1998, I've included two New Year's Eve shows. Number five belongs to the "boy-wonder," Stevie Ray Vaughan protégé, Mr. Kenny Wayne Shepherd at 5 Points Music Hall in Birmingham, AL on Dec. 14. Number four is the fusion masters in Dream Theater to play the Masquerade in Atlanta, GA on Dec. 16. Jimmie Vaughan gets the three spot this week. He will be performing at the House of Blues in New Orleans on Jan. 3, 1998. Number two goes to Widespread Panic to play the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA on New Year's Eve. Good luck with tickets, they have already sold out three dates in a row there. And the Madhatter Tip-Top Five numero uno spot goes to my hometown boys, The Neville Brothers, who are playing on New Year's Eve at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, LA.

I hope to see you all out supporting original music at M.O.R.E. night this Wednesday when Soulcore and Sucking Diction take the stage at Monsoon's, 210 Dauphin St. As always, it is an all- ages show and will be over relatively early, around midnight. Chew on this musical quote until next time ...

"I want to say something comforting in the way that music is comforting... In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically." Vincent Van Gogh.

THIRD WORLD CITIZEN ROCKS THE SOUTHEAST!!

Who is the hardest band to emerge on the Mobile music scene? It would have to be the hard-hitting, neck-breaking, intensified group named Third World Citizen. Although Mobile has yet to grow up and appreciate original music, this band has not had to struggle with it. They learned to work around it. After a month of playing everywhere in the Southeast, from Houston, TX to Tampa, FL, I had the chance to catch up with Third World Citizen in their elegant "band house" in Hillsdale for an informal interview.

Third World Citizen has been playing together since February, but two months ago Drew, bassist (formerly of Mutant Speed), joined the group and brought a new thrashing velocity of energy. Now the band operates on all four cylinders of fury. One could make many car comparisons with Third World Citizen, like "hardcore hot-rod," and so on, because it is the driving momentum that comes across in the music. It certainly leaves a clear impression. People don't usually last "past three songs," before their attention is glued to Third World Citizen on stage.

"Even people who aren't into our kind of music, the one thing that they take away is that the show was intense," Nick, drums, said. "Some people are going to hate you, and some are going to like you, no matter who you are! We have some friends that will come see us, who wouldn't sit around and listen to our kind of music, but they come see us live because we go off. It's fortunate that we have that platform to get that energy out."

The energy in Third World Citizen is channeled vocally through Jody. Messages of self- conflict and self-hatred are aggressively belted out in their live performances. In fact, they were so "aggressive" in the past, Jody broke a few microphone stands in the process of thrashing across the stage. His stage presence could best be described as Phil Anselmo (Pantera vocalist) on a speedball! The name, Third World Citizen, has tones of Jody's anti-conforming philosophy.

"I was in Costa Rica on a surf trip with some friends of mine, and we were stuck behind some cattle on a dirt road," Jody said. "We were talking, and I said, 'yeah we're in a cattle jam. It's like being a third world citizen!' It didn't really make sense at the time, but it did when we came back here and I started jamming with them. The implication, well, is pretty wide open, but the meaning for me was America is so diverse in population, and the class itself has so far deteriorated. No matter how hard you try, you're still second rate if you're a citizen of the United States. I'm a college educated graduate who can't find a job that pays more than $7 or $8, and that's with a bachelor's degree. I was always told, 'get your degree, and get that pot of gold.' Now I'm told, 'get your graduate degree, and get that gold.' That's ridiculous! It makes me feel second rate, like I'm living in a third world country. This is supposed to be the richest country, but I'm struggling everyday, paycheck to paycheck. There are people living for free thanks to me!"

This January, Third World Citizen will be in the studio recording new material. Their debut LP release will contain 10-13 new songs of more introspective lyrics coupled with heavy, ball- crushing music. There are still copies of "demo" EP floating around, on tape and CD, at shows or Peaches Music. Fortunately, the upcoming release from Third World Citizen will contain songs the whole band has contributed to freely.

"The new songs coming out on the next album have a lot of religious overtones, and not in a bad way," Jody said. "It's something I've given a lot of thought to. I'm a firm believer in God, and I get mocked for that, because there is an agnostic, an atheist and an unsure in this band. If I can't prove it to myself, then it makes it hard to prove it to others. That is what a lot of the music on this particular upcoming album is about. The songs talk about hypocrites, and all the sh*t you have to put up with. You know, people who have been turned off to church because of all the politics and the b.s., I've experienced it from both ends, so I know what they're talking about. I think everyone can relate to it. I think everyone has questioned what's out there at least once in their life. The type of people we are, are the freaks -- the dreamers, the philosophers, the people who dig for knowledge. We are the people who are looked at like, 'you're not part of society.' So, it almost gives us another class. It makes us lower than what they would consider a normal citizen."

Since the closing of bars like The Culture Shock, Vincent Van Go Go and George's Late Night, all-original, local music has not been supported by the downtown Dauphin Street bars. Especially, the hardcore bands. Aside from Twister's (the old Club Royal), the days of "all-ages" shows at The Go Go are gone! Third World Citizen shares in this disgust. "Everyone who has ever opened a club in Mobile, really tried to have good original acts in there, has been a moron," Drew said.

"Bands like us can travel a few hours away from our hometown and have a packed out bar," Nick interjected. "I mean people will go crazy and tear stuff up, hurt themselves and go to the hospital, get stitched up, and come back to the show. Then we play Mobile, and we're lucky if we have a hundred people show up."

Look out for Third World Citizen to make a "big move" on the music scene in 1998. Their touring schedule has pressed the boundaries of the Southeast circuit. Check them out locally at Twisters from time to time or go out of town to a "good show," like Mobilians are accustomed to, with Third World Citizen. They are a band on the rise, don't miss them live.


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