By Tina Alvarez
Eric Hulstedt, lead singer of the rock group Plastic Museum, has no idea where the notion of naming their LP "Full Frontal Nudity" came from.
"I was in one of my moods. We were walking through the University of Arizona campus and it just came out," recalled Hulstedt. "We thought about it and it's not a bad name. There's no secret message. We don't go naked to the shows or anything."
Performing together for the last three years, Plastic Museum is a Tucson band popular at the local clubs and in the process of increasing their audience. This five-member group, which consists of Hulstedt, bassist Thomas J. Ferrugia, Jr., drummer Michael Wagner and guitarists Eric Brobeck and Rich Soumakian, won the Battle of the Bands competition held at The Rock in 1993 and 1994. They did not enter the 1995 competition -- winning two years in a row was good enough.
"I really don't consider us heavy metal," Hulstedt said of their style. "We are a rock band from the start. I think the term metal is way out of date. Alternative's gone too. We want to be anything but alternative. What we are is a song band. We're rock from the standpoint that, yes, we do have guitars. We can be loud sometimes. We do have energy."
On "Full Frontal Nudity," released on Polymur Records, Plastic Museum display various angles in their approach. The opening cut, "Idiot," punks out while "The River" fronts meandering, comforting instrumental textures. "Push," on the other hand, takes on a heavy guitar-laden groove.
"In this band, Tom's into jazz, Mike's into Beastie Boys, I'm into reggae, Eric's into all kinds of rock and Hulstedt's into everything, " described Soumakian. "When it comes together, it's Plastic Museum."
The album was recorded at the Salt Mines in Mesa, Az. with Mark Msatson, Don Salter and the band producing. Two of the members were injured in separate accidents during the course of making the LP, so there were a few months of down time. Several of the numbers were written in the studio.
"Writing in the studo was really demanding, but it's one of the most challenging aspects," Hulstedt admitted. "I actually enjoyed it because the pressure's on."
Included on the album is the novelty tune "Happy Birthday Shithead," a number Hulstedt wrote for his roommate's girlfriend, Mia. Hulstedt said this is one number that people either love or hate, adding that some of his friends were appalled. In fact, the entire band was surprised to the bi-polar reaction. Hultstedt maintained one needs a sense of humor to appreciate it.
"She came over and I was sitting on the couch tinkering with the guitar. She said, 'Eric, it's my birthday. Why don't you write me a song?' So that was the first thing that came out -- 'Happy Birthday Shithead -- are you getting any older and smarter? I don't think so.' It was done sarcastically," he attested.
Compared to their self-titled demo, "Total Frontal Nudity" shows Plastic Museum as having more direction and focus -- attributes which the band credits to practice and performance -- despite the fact that the majority of its members attend college and hold down jobs.
"Any band that is successful has to work at it, and not only that, but we're choosing to take school on top of it." pointed out Hulstedt. "I think that's a sign of healthy living -- you've got to be motivated if you're going to get anywhere."
When not pursuing their musical endeavors, it's a good bet you'll find these guys in front of a television set. Using red, white and blue on the album cover was sparked while watching "Love, American Style." And when the band was in it's formative stages, they choose the group's name from an episode of "Cops." The segment that touched them so dearly had to do with police being called to the suspect's mother's home on a domestic violence call.
"This guy was beating up on his mother. He's sitting in the kitchen, wearing a Boy Scout uniform, he has hypodermic needles in his pocket," Hulstedt recalled. "His name was John and they took him out to the squad car and then asked him if he had any weapons in his room. He said no."
The police searched his room where they found three assault rifles. One officer opened a dresser drawer and it was filled with women's underwear. The second drawer was filled with high heels. When the officer questioned the suspect on why he had those articles in his room, he replied, "Man, I'm gonna start me a plastic museum."
The band agreed.
"We thought that was kind of groovy," Hulstedt reflected. "He had a response to the question, so we said, 'Well hell, we might as well start one too."