If there’s any justice left in this world, “Compete,” the first single off Stanford Prison Experiment’s debut Island album, “Wrecreation,” would be a hit. A big hit.
“Being in America, where we’re a true capitalist society,” singer Mario Jimenez said recently, “you’d think it’d make a lot of sense, but there are some things beyond our control.”
Undaunted, Jimenez and his band mates – guitarist Mike Starkey, drummer Davey Latter and bassist Mark Fraser – remain true to their sociopolitical beliefs, railing against the system throughout “Wrecreation.” Particularly on “Compete.”
“It’s kind of a stream of consciousness, a general take on the culture, how it’s a dog-eat-dog world,” Jimenez said. “I don’t want to get into too much detail, because I want people to get what they can out of it. It’s more an observation of the world around us and how you survive in it.”
Jimenez and Starkey formed Stanford Prison Experiment eight years ago in Glendale, Calif. The group got its name from an early ’70s experiment in which Stanford students were divided into two groups, guards and prisoners, and all eagerly assumed their passive-aggressive roles.
Their self-titled debut album in 1994 was produced by former Gang of Four member Dave Allen, who runs the World Domination label, and the 1995 follow-up, “The Gato Hunch,” was produced by Ted Niceley (Fugazi, Girls Against Boys, Jawbox).
The band has lasted this long, Jimenez said, because they thrive on trying to get people to think for themselves.
“We’re in the music thing because there’s no bosses, pretty much,” he said, “and we’re not in a competitive mentality. We’re trying to do our own stuff, so we don’t try to foster that mentality in ourselves. We just want to stay focused on making interesting music. We write about what bothers us and interests us.
“We just like the process of creativity and giving birth to a new song or a new idea. That’s kind of what it’s all about. It’s about developing songs and trying to communicate certain vibes at a show. It’s a process that just keeps going. You just keep doing it.”
For the past month, the group has been opening for one of its musical heroes, the Jesus Lizard.
“The tour’s been awesome,” Jimenez said. “It’s incredible to play with a band like the Jesus Lizard. They’re relentless night after night; they’re one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands in America, if not the best. They’re totally overlooked.”