ALIEN CRIME SYNDICATE
Visions of Strip Club Fame
BY RHEA CORTADO

Alien Crime Syndicate’s uplifting tunes give you the uncontrollable urge to obey their commands and "lift up your hands if you like Ozzy or the Motley Crue" as shouted in the single "Ozzy," fro their third full length album, XL From Coast to Coast (V2). The band members are all fans of the random ridiculousness on The Osbournes and of Ozzy himself, but the heart of the song carries beyond the artists they praise. "The song isn’t necessarily about Ozzy; it’s about the era of arena rock that he was a part of," says lead singer Joe Reineke, the self-proclaimed "mouth" of the band, who writes most of the lyrics and music. Alien Crime Syndicate’s own adventures in arena rock included a chain of shows in which they opened for Sugar Ray. Though the band’s energy can only be fully experienced by sharing the excitement with masses of people at a concert, their CD provides a healthy dose of its own.

In addition to producing XL from Coast to Coast, Reineke is also responsible for the band’s unquestionably unusual name. "Alien: we’re all different on the outside, and Crime Syndicate, we’re one big family. We’re all different on the outside, and all the same in the end." Like the band’s name, listeners’ reactions to their songs are also a contradiction. There is the head-bobbing, booty-shakin’ rock of "Ozzy" and "Break the Record" that garner immediate excitement, but other tracks are deceivingly downbeat. "It’s kind of happy music, almost. But it’s pretty hard. If you actually get under the surface a little bit, it’s almost dark. The theme sometimes gets dark, [and] a lot of people don’t get that too much. They just think ‘wow, it’s fun.’ A lot of people say they listen to our music in the morning, which is bizarre," says Reineke. An example of these dark themes camouflaged by a pop-rock melody can be found in "My Happy Ending," which features the following lyrics: ‘The truth is what we need to hide… I might be lost or nothing left to lose …come on yeah, where’s my happy ending gone to?’

Alien Crime Syndicate’s symbiotic fusion of cathartic words and subconsciously catchy music shows that Reineke knows how to craft a memorable song, but he also stays level-headed when it comes to negative reviews from the press. "I don’t read the good shit, I don’t read the bad shit. That’s how I respond to it. It’s weird for me, I don’t like real high highs, or real low lows. If I don’t read it, I don’t get either one. If they love it, it’s one person’s opinion and if they hate it, it’s still one person’s opinion." Reineke has been plugging away at the music scene for over a decade, first with his previous band, the Meices , and now with Alien Crime. His determination is proof that he has the drive to keep on trucking, regardless of critical reaction and the changing tastes of listeners.

Reineke’s music is obviously influenced by classic album rock, but his flavor of the moment is Ohio indie stalwarts Guided By Voices. "[Guided By Voices] kind of sound like a cross between the Beatles and a bar band. Really big melodies." His contradictory nature spreads even to his record collection: the record that spins most often on his turntable is Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night, but in his CD player is what could be described as Stewart’s total anthesis: Rocket From The Crypt’s Scream, Dracula Scream!

Should this personality profile prove appealing to female readers, curious girls should know that the band gets along too well for their own good, and shenanigans are the rule of the day. "We fart a lot. We’re pretty much four stinky, rotten guys. It starts to turn into a locker room sometimes." The other three rotten guys are Jeff Rouse on bass and vocals, Nabil Ayers on drums and Mike Squires (ex-Harvey Danger) on vocals and guitar. Upcoming action from Alien Crime Syndicate includes the music video for "Ozzy," as well as some shows sprinkled throughout the West Coast. And if any downtime still exists after that, Reineke also owns a recording studio in Seattle where he works with unsigned indie bands.

Alien Crime Syndicate sets their ambitions high and aims to be the epitome of rock stardom. For Reineke, that status will come not when they’ve sold out ten thousand-seat capacity venues, or when they’ve graced the cover of every major music magazine. Rather, in his own words, it’ll be "when all the dancers in the strip club start dancing to your song. Or let’s put it this way: [when] you kind of can’t walk into a strip club and not hear Guns n’ Roses." With that playful attitude, Alien Crime Syndicate is destined for greatness above and beyond strip club playlists.