New metal injection

Novocaine numbs to Limp comparisons

At first listen, local metal band Novocaine might appear to be another Korn knockoff — but they're not. Where new-metal rap-rockers such as Crazy Town and Linkin Park seem to aim for the 13-year-old crowd, Novocaine aligns themselves closer to thinking-man's metal (the Pantera and early-Incubus crowd). Put simply, no one wears a backward red hat in this band.

But the group made up of DJ 23 (Chris Kazmarek), bassist Juan Garcia, guitarist Mike Morris and drummer Mike Finney, has had glimpses of the same exposure afforded bands like Korn. In 1997, Novocaine was invited to perform on the Vans Warped Tour, and since then has shared the stage with Suicidal Tendencies, Atari Teenage Riot, Biohazard and The Jesus Lizard.

One reason the group resembles the rap-metal bands that dominate popular airwaves is their use of a DJ — a move Garcia says is an innovation ahead of its time. "A lot of bands have been wanting DJs lately but we had [Kazmarek] in 1998," Garcia says. "He doesn't do scratch work with us — we wanted him for his soundscapes and effects and we use him like another instrument, almost like a keyboard player."

The vocals are held down by Garcia and Morris, in the combined vein of the emotional, echoing wail of Jonathan Davis and the louder bellow of Henry Rollins.

The sound of the Novocaine EP moves all over, from eerie electronica to full-on headbanging chants, where head-bobbing backbeats combine with driving bass riffs and alien guitar sounds. "Sponge Couch," the last track on the album, is completely instrumental with a spaced-out and thumping Nine Inch Nails sound to it.

Contrary to the group's name, Novocaine is far from a numb, emotionless act. In "Unscathed," the second track from their self-titled EP, Garcia and Morris chant, "Trust is everything to me/It's not something to be/taken lightly ... There's no trust/in anything anymore — the walls around you grow ... "

Each member brings his own musical style to the group, which explains the Pink Floyd-esque murmuring in Novocaine's music. "I basically come from a metal background — but I was also very much into Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and other groove stuff," says Garcia, who moved to Gwinnett after growing up in New York.

The band recently held down a spot during the Atlantis Music Conference, taking the stage with Atlanta acts Smugface and Fusebox. Currently, the group is preparing for a tour that will take them up to showcases in New York and then back to Florida. Until then, dates at the Cotton Club and Breaker's in Jonesboro loom.

"[Playing] outside of Atlanta is good," Garcia says of suburban gigs. "It seems like the kids there come out just to see music, not just because their friend is in the band."

Garcia says the fans outside the Perimeter are almost more appreciative than the ones they see in the city. "Kids outside of Atlanta can't always make it into town, so they get all psyched to hear stuff they don't usually get to hear. Our show is real energetic, and we try to get the crowd involved with a lot of dynamics," Garcia says. "You'll be swaying back and forth and then some kid next to you will be jumping up and down. At the end, we freestyle and invite people onto stage with us. We get a lot of rappers, but it's always off the top of our heads, and always one of the most powerful parts of our set."

Novocaine will appear Aug. 24 at Breakers in Jonesboro with Self-Motivational Speaker and the Blue Druids.??