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Chris Pounders Films With David Lynch, Advances in Battle of the Bands

In Music
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When Chris Pounders cut his hair into a Mohawk, he never thought David Lynch would want to set it on fire.

The vocalist and guitarist of San Jose pop-punk band Pounders—which won a round of the Battle of the Bands at 9 Lives in Gilroy last week, and will compete in the semi-finals in March—has had his hawk for a few years now. It’s been blond, red, pink and black, and to say the least, it’s given him a distinctive look both onstage and in the acting work he occasionally does. Distinctive enough that Lynch handpicked him to be in the video for his song “Crazy Clown Time,” the title track from Lynch’s bizarre recent album.

Pounders doesn’t know when the video will be coming out, but he filmed his part three weeks ago. In it, he appears to light his hair on fire, though the effect was actually achieved by cutting a shot of him putting a match close to his hair with a shot of a matching Mohawk on a fake Chris Pounders head going up in flames.

“The video is just as messed up as the music is,” he promises.

The ironic thing is that his trademark look isn’t even a huge political statement on Pounders’ part; it was originally done as an emergency measure after his hair was massacred on a shoot. He planned to keep it just one day but ended up loving it.

“I have a Mohawk, I have tattoos, but I don’t consider myself a punk rocker,” says the 26-year-old Pounders, though it is clearly a bit of a tribute to the hard-core punks he encountered in his formative years: “When I was growing up, those guys were crazy.”

Similarly, people often tell the band—which also includes drummer Justin Imamura and bassist Alonso Hernandez—that they sound like old-school punks. This puzzles them to no end, since they’re the first to admit they don’t. Besides their look, this perception has more to do with the energy of their shows; they’re a lot rawer in concert. Pounders accurately describes their sound on record as “old Green Day meets the Cure.”

If that sounds like a pretty ingenious combination for the current music climate, you’re not the only one who thinks so. Live 105’s Aaron Axelsen has played three of their songs so far: “Scream and Let It Go,” “Chasing the Sun” (the title track from their debut album) and the new “Dead Man.”

But Pounders isn’t too impressed with the retro-’80s movement, feeling like the current groups have drawn way too heavily from the synth side of the electro-dance/guitar-band split that existed in the music of that decade. The band’s unofficial motto is “Put away your dancing shows, turn off that drum machine.”

“I’m trying to go more toward the dark, emotional, energetic ’80s stuff,” he says.

To hear their stuff getting airplay is a validation of the huge push the band has made in the last couple of years. Though he recognizes that radio has less importance than it once did, Pounders compares the importance of it in his mind to the 1994 flop-turned-cult-movie Airheads, where Adam Sandler, Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi break into a radio station to get their record aired.

“They raided the radio station just to get that one play,” he says. “To me, it still feels like that. It’s still exciting.”

In actuality, though, Pounders has been around since the mid-2000s. Pounders met Imamura when they were both in high school, drumming at Great America. The pair began playing together, then met Hernandez when they went back to star in Great America’s “School of Rock” show.

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Nor, by the way, were any of these the weirdest gig the band members have had. Imamura has hosted Nickelodeon’s Slime Time Live, and Pounders took a couple of years off from the band to perform full-time with Stomp in Las Vegas, including their show at the NBA All-Star Game. They actually incorporate their drumming experience into some of their shows by performing trash-can drumming during their set.

In fact, considering that his last name, from which the band derived their moniker, is the one he had at birth, and not a stage name, he sometimes can’t help but feel he’s in the wrong line of work doing vocals and guitar.

“Honestly, deep inside I sometimes wish I was a drummer still,” he says. “It’s just too perfect.”

The Battle of the Bands at 9 Lives in Gilroy continues with the semi-final round next month. Pounders competes March 23.

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