SpacePimps from Kick Rock Music
Hey, Shady Side Academy seems like an unlikely jumping off point for a punk pop band, but it's the alma mater of the SpacePimps.
Maybe it's not surprising; every school has its normal kids, jocks, frat guys, goths, and the boys in the band roaming the halls. They just preferred to party down at places like Laga and Graffiti instead of the keggers.
Lead singer and guitarist Rishi Raj Bahl hooked up with drummer Jared Roscoe there, and after their senior year added bassist Brian Cain. They've kept the same power-trio lineup ever since, six years and counting.
Bahl is the son of an Indian doctor and his mom is from Wilkinsburg, and the ringleader of the band. He caught the fever after moshing at the Warped Tour '96 as a pre-teen.
The fever didn't quite extend into a rebellious persona; he told Manny Theiner of the Post Gazette that he and the guys are "straightedge" - no dope or booze.
And they are a kinda role model trio. The group operates its own business end, including the booking, promotion, sales, and finances (both of their CDs, 2006's "Turn It Up!" and their recently issued "Stuck Here Forever" are self-released.) They are managed by Patrick Gillespie of Restless Management, their link to the outside industry
Bahl worked on a triple major in college, and is in line to pick up a PhD in business during the fall, a pretty handy background for a developing group. His bandmates are both working their way toward a degree, too, mostly on-line. So handling the business side may be hectic, but the guys are well suited for it.
In fact, their education earned them some national love from Newsweek magazine, who featured them in a 2007 article describing the struggle between getting a sheepskin and banging out chords for a living.
But while they may be called a college punk band, the music has been the focus, not the tassels and gowns. They've moved nearly 10,000 copies of their debut EP, no small task for an indie, and parlayed it into a big following in Japan.
A Tokyo indie label, Kick Rock Music, inked the Pimps and brought them over for a 2007 tour. They headlined four sold-out shows - Pittsburgh probably has more punk bands in town than Japan does nationally - and KRM is handling the newest release for the Nippon market.
And the boys do like to spread their sound around. After starting off with "battle of the bands" gigs and graduating to the clubs, the Pimps have gone on four national tours, and shared a stage with local band Punchline and bigger acts like Fall Out Boy, Reel Big Fish, The Starting Line, New Found Glory and Bowling for Soup. They even got a shot on The Warped Tour.
The latest tour launched with a CD release show June 18th at South Side's Club Diesel (the album’s first single, “Running Away (Leave the Light On),” has been released via iTunes) and takes them into the Midwest for the short term. And they still do it the old school way, piling into a van and schlepping their amps onto whatever stage will take them.
The band's goal, of course, is to get picked up by a label (that item hasn't gotten past the talking point yet) and see how far their music can take them. And with comparisons to groups like Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, there's a good chance that opportunity will bear fruit.
One last question - how did a clean-cut group of punks become the SpacePimps? As explained to Manny Theiner:
In Bahl's senior year, he suddenly needed to come up with a band name. "We were practicing in Jared's walk-in closet," he recalls, "when Jared's little nephew, who was 6 or 7 and had been watching MTV's 'Pimp My Ride,' said, 'You guys look like a bunch of pimps from outer space.' Jared submitted the name without telling me, and we showed up to the high school battle of the band. The sign said 'The SpacePimps are playing Blink-182 covers,' and I was mortified."But it stuck.
SpacePimps - "What's My Age Again"