Love Gods Escape From Central Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITER

What's the best thing about being a successful Fresno band?

You get to leave Fresno.

At least that is how the Supreme Love Gods tell it. Discovered by "Lollapalooza" co-creator Marc Geiger, the group recently released its debut album, "Supreme Love Gods." The album, particularly the song "All Over," has been embraced by college and alternative radio programmers.

The quartet has spent the last few months playing clubs throughout the West, from Salt Lake City to a show last week in Long Beach. And the group will hit the road again in January as the opening act on Ned's Atomic Dustbin's 30-city U.S. tour, including a show at the Hollywood Palladium on Feb. 19.

"We wanted the music we made to take us out of Fresno," said singer-guitarist Thomas Dew, 27, during a telephone interview before a show in Tucson. "The music has an international appeal, and it has provided a great means of getting us out of that small-town mentality."

Indeed, the group's sound is more Manchester than Central Valley--moody and melodic dance music with grinding guitars and a touch of psychedelia. Formed in 1989, when Dew met guitarist Tommy Joy at a party, the Supreme Love Gods quickly became favorites at the town's two rock clubs. The limited music scene there didn't stifle the band, which also includes bassist John Wilson and drummer Eric Dansby.

"It was a nice environment to develop our music in because it is a cultural vacuum, an artistic wasteland," Dew said. "It drives you to create and you can focus better there than in a big city with all of its distractions."

That focus paid off a little more than a year later, when Geiger--then a talent agent at the Triad Agency--set up two industry showcases for the band. Those concerts created a definite buzz, and the group found itself being courted by 11 record companies before signing with Columbia Records. But "creative differences" led to the band parting from Columbia before even finishing an album.

Once again, Geiger came to the rescue. Now head of A&R; at Rick Rubin's maverick Def American Recordings, he signed the group, and after two years of limbo the Supreme Love Gods finally has its album out.

About the only problem Dew has now is trying to fend off the inevitable comparisons with such British bands as the Happy Mondays and EMF.

"I'm sick of hearing about our 'British' sound, but I guess that it's fair at first glance," Dew admitted. "A lot of our influences come from England. You can see the world's sounds coming together there--'60s psychedelic, rap, house and disco. It's very exciting."

And now that they have had a taste of the outside world, the band members are looking for a new place to call home.

"San Luis Obispo seemed like a really nice place. And Salt Lake City was cool," Dew said. He paused to consider a few more places. "I guess every time we go to a new city we think it is really cool. So we'll just keep looking around until we find the right place."

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