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No ‘Joke’ Band Label

The three former Bostonians who bill themselves as Christmas don’t mind being told that their music has a certain flair for the absurd--as well they shouldn’t, with titles like that of their new album, “Ultraprophets of the Psykick Revolution,” and satirical college radio hits like “Stupid Kids” and “Richard Nixon.”

What they do mind somewhat is being thought of as a “joke” band, even while writing songs about AIDS, wife beating, nuclear destruction and the like, and showing sure signs of solid pop-rock craftsmanship amid their left-of-centeredness. “We have definitely--I hate to use the M-word --matured,” admits singer/drummer Liz Cox.

Like Camper Van Beethoven, perhaps? “Camper Van Beethoven has turned out to be less of a novelty act than they appeared at first, and in some ways we do have something in common with them,” says singer/guitarist Michael Cudahy, sporting a nude-Madonna T-shirt and acting just a little like an insidious Ed Grimley.

“The fact is that humor--or, musically, any kind of weirdness--corrupts the rest of it so that people go, ‘Oh, they’re a funny band.’ But absurd isn’t the antithesis of serious. It’s more than just finding everything to be a joke when you find everything to be absurd.”

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“Ya talk about absurd!” exclaims Cox. “We’re living there: Absurd, U.S.A.”

She’s referring to the group’s new hometown: Las Vegas. Upon leaving its previous independent label (Big Time) to sign with a West Coast major (I.R.S.), Cudahy, Cox and bass player Dan Castelli packed up and moved from Boston, a city with a thriving music scene befitting its offbeat stance, to a city with a music scene thriving around Frank Sinatra Jr.

Says Cox, “It’s the big fish in a little pond scenario: ‘Hi! We’re the best new band in town! Where do we park our van?’ I suppose that sounds conceited, but there aren’t too many bands there.”

“It’s true,” confirms Cudahy. “We are the best rock band in Las Vegas. I’m sure of it. As the Legendary Stardust Cowboy says, ‘They’re not such a big market for our kind of entertainment here.’ ”

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