Adam Paskowitz, singer of The Flys, is never one to leave a tender moment alone.
The Hollywood, Calif.-based rock quintet did some sightseeing during a recent tour stop in Washington, D.C. At one point, they were soaking up this nation’s heritage at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial when bassist James Book turned to Paskowitz to make a comment that summed up the group’s good fortunes.
“We’re standing there, and all these kids started to recognize us from our video,” Paskowitz said recently. “All these girls wanted to take pictures with us. James looks up at the monument and says to me, ‘Man, it’s really wild, nothing but Abes and babes.’ Ha! That really said it all. Abes and babes.”
Yes, Abe would be proud. Only in America could a collection of tattooed surf rats, skydiving maniacs, mountain bikers and self-professed “homeless James Bonds” who live in a van rather than maintain an apartment blast its way onto MTV and commercial radio with a hit song from a forgettable fright flick called “Disturbing Behavior.”
For the record, even The Flys – Paskowitz, brother Josh (raps and rhymes), Book, guitarist Peter Perdichizzi and drummer Nicky Lucero – are scratching their heads over having a major-label deal (with Delicious Vinyl/Trauma), an album rising on Billboard’s Top 200 (“Holiday Man”), a Top 10 modern rock track hit – “Got You (Where I Want You)” – an upcoming appearance on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and, of course, all those babes.
“We jam, therefore we are,” Paskowitz said. “We have no gloss. All these bands, like Hole and Lenny Kravitz, they’re really professional business people. Don’t let ’em fool ya. They shine like a new penny, but The Flys, we’re more like fringe people who just wrote a song. We don’t shine up like the others. Maybe it’s the thing that catapults us into greatness or maybe people’ll go, ‘Ah, this band, they just don’t have it.’ ”
But The Flys do have it. Their sweeping, supercharged sound – a combination of danceable heavy metal, Sly funk and barbed hooks – is a musical No-Pest Strip, a welcome diversion from the likes of Backstreet Boys, Shania Twain and Monica.
“We’ve been playing in L.A. for five or six years, doing these shows all up the West Coast in our van with our dog,” Perdichizzi said. “We booked all the shows ourselves, drove ourselves there, set it all up, no crew. We did that for a number of years and we just kept going around, until about the 20th time around, people start coming to see you. You’re not on the radio, you’re not on TV, you’re just very much an unknown band. But look at us now.”
The Flys are the musical version of the X-Games: Adam and Josh Paskowitz have surfing and music in their blood – their father, who founded a surf camp in Orange County, hits the waves daily at age 78, while their mother is an opera singer; they spent much of their youth driving from one surf city to another in a bus, which explains why they prefer to live out of the group’s van; Book also surfs, Lucero is a skydiver (that’s him free falling on the album cover) and Perdichizzi mountain-bikes.
That carefree lifestyle prepared them for the real world in the music business: They can take whatever’s dished out.
“We were the masters of our own destiny,” Paskowitz said. “We made our independent record called ’25 Cents’ and sold about 25,000 copies of that. We went to Europe, then we made the second record with (producer) Chris Goss, from the Masters of Reality.
“Then we make a record that doesn’t cost anything (‘Holiday Man’). We make it at his studio in Palm Springs; it takes a month. Mike Ross, the guy from Delicious Vinyl, who has no money, he says, ‘We’ll print up some singles and we’ll see what happens.’ We get a couple of spins on some radio stations, and from that minute on, within three days, almost every major record company called us. Within three days, I was in Rob Hahane’s office at Trauma Records and that was it. He said, ‘Look, you can get a deal with a big advance from another company or I can do this now.’ We looked at each other, thinking about No Doubt and Bush and the way he handled those bands, it felt like he knew what he was doing. And he was smart.”
Paskowitz still can’t get over it.
“Now we’re going to commercial hit radio,” he said, “and we are the most ridiculous people to be on commercial hit radio. I still live in my van, for chrissake. This is terrific. We played for Lenny Kravitz in front of 20,000 people and they’re singing our song louder than the P.A., and Lenny’s like, ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ ”
Perdichizzi is glad The Flys earned their wings and didn’t get handed a label deal, like some bands, before their first gig.
“If I had known 10 years ago going into this that it would take 10 years and that it was finally happening now, I don’t know what I would’ve thought,” he said, “but I thank God for that. It really gives you the insight and wisdom and the ability to hold back, make the right decisions. After you’ve been through almost everything as a band, all the crappy parts and all the highlights, you learn to deal with it all.”