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The Show(case) Must Go On!

ACCIDENTAL SUPERHERO
NOMINATED IN POP
9 P.M., LA RUMBA
Many Internet-driven pockets of the recording industry took a hit with the dot.com crash, but some bands have taken the e-baton and run with it. And few have raced faster or covered more ground than Accidental Superhero. The Colorado Springs-based quartet has logged more than 400,000 downloads off MP3.com -- often charting amid the likes of Eminem and Avril Lavigne -- and amassed an e-mail list of 500,000 fans.

"Most of us are tech nerds," says vocalist Jonathan Kuiper, "except Jeff [Woods, AS's drummer] -- he's a pro golfer." As such, the members of the eight-year-old band, rounded out by guitarist Chris "Cornbread" Willard and bassist Sean Mulholland, took to the Web the minute they finished their second full-length album, Full Circle, last year. "It did well by word of mouth," Kuiper says. "It just snowballed."

"We embraced the whole Napster/KaZaa thing," he adds. "I don't think artists are going to be able to change how stuff is pirated nowadays." Thus the band's strategy remains largely the same as it ever was: doing it themselves -- writing, self-recording and self-releasing a brand of polished, affecting rock anchored by industrial-strength guitar riffs and boosted by soaring pop hooks.

Accidental Superhero, which has a national tour slated for the end of the year and a third album in the works, has had its share of offers and rejections from labels big and small. But a tour to New York last fall proved to be an educational, if somewhat jading, experience. "The more you learn about the music industry, the more you see behind the curtain," says Kuiper. "There is no wizard. It's not necessarily what you thought it would be. We realized we could do a lot of it on our own." -- Peterson

AGAINST TOMORROW'S SKY
NOMINATED IN PUNK
5:30 P.M., ACOMA CENTER
Mike Stephens of Against Tomorrow's Sky recently left an old friend for dead on the side of the road in the middle of the California desert. What's more, he shows no signs of remorse for his actions. In fact, he'd probably do it again if it meant another potentially amazing gig was on the other side.

The Colorado Springs-based quartet -- composed of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Fuller, bassist Mike Nipp, drummer Shawn Stafford and vocalist/guitarist Stephens -- was baptized by fire when its '78 Econoline van bit the dust in the middle of the desert on the band's first tour ever. "I can laugh now, but at the time it wasn't so funny," says Stephens. The group stopped for gas in Bakersfield, California, on its way from Sacramento to Anaheim. Unbeknownst to the bandmembers, the gas station had mistakenly put diesel fuel in its unleaded pumps. Had it not been for the kindness of a handful of strangers who pitched in to help out, the players might still be stuck somewhere in the middle of the Mojave. Fortunately, they made it back home. The van did not.

Sounds like enough to dissuade most bands from giving it another go, right? But this one can't wait to get back on the road.

"We've done really well in Colorado Springs. We've built up a cool little following, and we're just trying to do that everywhere else," says Stephens. "And we know that it doesn't happen overnight."

From Stephens's mouth to God's ears. The band's reputation is quickly outgrowing the confines of its home town. Formed during the summer of 2000 from the remnants of various Colorado Springs bands, Against Tomorrow's Sky was recently voted best band by its hometown paper, the Gazette, and inked a deal with Pennsylvania-based indie Universal Warning Records. The outfit's debut EP, Jump the Hedges First, recorded at 8 Houses Down by studio whiz Matt Vanleuven, was initially intended as a demo. Ultimately, the recordings were released as is. Stephens credits Vanleuven's production skills.

"We had never worked with an engineer that was really good. We were so excited with how good his production was. It sounded pro to us, so we were like, 'We'll release this as is.' Right off the board, our scratch mixes were incredible. For the quality of work they do, [8 Houses Down] could be charging four times as much. I can't see why any band in the state would record anywhere else."

Against Tomorrow's Sky won't have to worry much about where to record its next record, at least not in the near future. According to Stephens, the band wants to tour more to support the latest album before starting work on the next. Hopefully, the new van will cooperate. ­ Dave Herrera

AGGRESSIVE PERSUASION
NOMINATED IN HARD ROCK
There's something Aggressive Persuasion doesn't want its sponsor, Jägermeister, to know: Though all members of Jäger bands are supposed to be of legal drinking age, only frontman Steve Leflar is over 21. The other bandmembers aren't even close.

Drummer Richard Valdez and twins Misty and David Bryant (on bass and guitar, respectively) started the band when they were eleven, showing a fierce commitment despite their tender ages. Playing any Pueblo bar that would let them, the young musicians were chaperoned at each gig by their parents -- their biggest fans and cheerleaders. Ron Bryant, Misty and David's dad, currently handles management duties for the group.

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