It’s pretty standard to leave a little blood on rock & roll’s altar, something to ward off evil spirits and producers of VH1’s Where Are They Now? But S.T.U.N. frontman Christiane J has dumped about a quart. In the last four months J has ended up in a hospital with a head wound, twice.
The first time was in May. The Los Angeles-based quartet was finishing its set in Dallas. Everything was going perfectly. The kids were crazy. The band: combustible. J. got so excited that he climbed on top of drummer Bobby Alt’s kit. When he jumped, bassist Nick S. started to swing about. J ended up ramming his forehead into the tuning pegs of S’s bass, resulting in the kind of bloody gash reserved for bad horror movies and dates with Kelly Osbourne. By the time the group finished its last song, J. had a stream of blood and sweat covering the left half of his face. End result: 10 stitches.
That was nothing compared with yesterday, though. S.T.U.N. were making their first video, for the debut single “Annihilation of the Generations.” The band was playing. The crew was circling like vultures. Somehow J head-butted one of the cameras straight on. He went down instantly, blacking out for a few seconds.
“It was kind of scary, actually,” he says. “I only got seven stitches this time, but I’ve never been knocked out like that before. I still can’t believe it. I hadn’t even met the camera man and I just whacked him.”
In true rock form, though J didn’t let the cut slow him down. He was quickly taken to a hospital, given a local, sewn up, and sent back to finish the video. “I was like the injured football player they drugged up and sent back into the game,” he laughs.
As much about ideology as it is sheer power, S.T.U.N. have never held anything back, from their scathing views of the government to the disaffected way society deals with its kids. One of the first lines on S.T.U.N.’s debut album, Evolution of Energy (Geffen), pretty much sums up how the group feels about everything: “The people that make the laws and rules for us/They don’t give a fuck about us” Hell, the group’s name stands for nothing less than “Scream Towards the Uprising of Nonconformity,” something J does frequently.
He screams for a united youth (the punk-thumped “Watch the Rebellion Grow”) and a generic revolution (the popping “Here Comes the Underground”). He rants against the Bible and America’s corporate mentality. By the end of the album he’s shouting like a street-corner crazy calling for an overthrow of the machine, the rest of the band slinking off to find that niche between Rage Against the Machine’s funk and Jane’s Addiction’s gothic sheen.
J says that the band could have just written standard SoCal punk songs that deal with little more than girls and zits. It probably would have been easier, and J admits perhaps more marketable. But he and co-founder/songwriter Neil Spies decided that they had a few other issues to deal with first.
“When I first met Neil, he had been working on these songs,” J says. “But we decided that we wanted to talk before we actually started working together. We both realized that we had a lot of the same views about the way the world was being run. We decided that rather than write about girls or the way the stars look tonight, we wanted to write about stuff for everyone, whether it was a message they wanted to hear or not. This is stuff people need to hear.”
Thousands already have. The group just finished a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, leaving the punk-rock summer camp with the Most Likely to Go Nuclear award. The band was notorious for thrashing about. Amps were treated like diving boards. Instruments were constantly smashed. The P.A. was just something to be conquered, J often climbing the stacks like he was practicing for an ascent on Everest. The band’s second-stage sets were so frantic and unpredictable that S.T.U.N. was often moved up to the main stage just so no one got hurt. No matter where the band attacked, though, critics often labeled the quartet the shock of the show, the Los Angeles Times even comparing the group’s swagger and love of danger to the Sex Pistols.
J says that’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean much if the greater message isn’t getting across. “It’s not like we preach against or say that we don’t like that so much that you can’t just groove along,” he says. “But you also hope that there are some people out there who understand what it is we’re trying to say. Those that come up after the show and want to talk about the lyrics rather than just say ‘you rock,’ that’s the icing on the cake. That’s when you know what you’re doing is making a difference.”