Possum Dixon Hitting ‘Nerves’ : ‘People are listening to the words on the album,’ says singer Rob Zabrecky, ‘which is something I wasn’t expecting.’


“Nerves,” the opening song on Possum Dixon’s major-label album debut, may well become yet another anthem for the twentysomething generation. It’s a song that explodes with the rage of the unemployed and the underemployed.

Listening to singer Rob Zabrecky proclaim, “I hate work/I’m a mail room clerk,” it’s easy to imagine a crowd of flannel-clad fans pumping their fists in the air and singing along.

Like “Nerves,” most of the Los Angeles band’s songs combine dark tales of everyday life in the working world with a hard-hitting power-pop sound that makes the edgy frustration catchy.


“I talked to a lot of people my age last night who were saying, ‘I truly empathize with your record because I have a job that sucks,’ ” says the 25-year-old Zabrecky by phone from Albuquerque, a stop on the group’s tour. (The group appears Friday on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and plays San Diego’s World Beat Center next Saturday.) “I think people are listening to the words on the album, which is something I wasn’t expecting.”

Zabrecky and his bandmates, pianist-guitarist Robert O’Sullivan, guitarist Celso Chavez and drummer Richard Treuel, don’t just talk about the 9-to-5 grind. They lived it for years--working as runners and clerks for entertainment companies while their band played various bars, coffeehouses and clubs in the Los Angeles area.

None of them was fond of his day job, but their experiences provided material for such songs as “Executive Slacks” and gave the band’s stripped-down sound its acidic, intelligent edge. The band never lets that edge get in the way of a good song though, and its self-titled album is as full of anger as well-constructed pop.

“As a kid it was power-pop,” Zabrecky says. “Bands like Cheap Trick, the Jam, the Buzzcocks--those sorts of bands with choruses and verses and light subjects.”

Zabrecky hit it off with Chavez, whom he met while attending junior college, because of their common love for music. In 1989 they started performing as an offbeat cabaret act, later moving toward a tighter, more structured sound when O’Sullivan came aboard.

The band gigged regularly at such clubs as Al’s Bar and the Palomino, choosing its name only when a local publication needed to print one. Almost without thinking, Chavez suggested Possum Dixon while watching a segment of “America’s Most Wanted” about Southern fugitive James (Possum) Dixon. The name stuck.


Perhaps fittingly, this band named after a fugitive “borrowed” rehearsal space at night by sneaking into a warehouse owned by Zabrecky’s employer. In 1992, the band formed its own label, Surf Detective, to release its self-produced records.

This dedication, combined with the band’s reputation for frenetic live performances, led to an offer from red-hot Interscope Records, whose cutting-edge roster includes alternative rockers Nine Inch Nails and Primus as well as rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg.

Possum Dixon has yet to rack up the kind of sales numbers of those acts, but the single “Watch the Girl Destroy Me” is in rotation on alternative radio, and album sales are picking up quickly.

With all this attention, does the band ever worry about its namesake, who’s still at large in the South?

“He’s bound to see the name,” Zabrecky says. “There are moments when we’re down in Kentucky, standing in line at the 7-Eleven, going, ‘Jesus Christ, this could be our last time here.’ It keeps us on our toes.”


English reggae-pop group UB40 will be at the Universal Amphitheatre on March 28 and 29. Tickets go on sale Sunday. . . . On sale Monday are two Wiltern Theatre dates for Crowded House, March 16 and 17. . . . Also on sale Monday for the Wiltern is a second date, March 10, for Concrete Blonde. The show is being billed as the L.A. trio’s last before leader Johnette Napolitano launches her solo career. . . . A 10:30 p.m. second show has been added for Chilean group Inti-Illimani on Friday at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall. An 8 p.m. show is sold out. . . . On sale today is the Paladins with the Royal Crown Revue at the Whisky, March 12.



Tickets are on sale for the first outdoor show of the 1994 season: a Scorpions-King’s X concert March 12 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. . . . The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano has added Michael McDonald (March 12), Arlo Guthrie (March 24) and the Richard Thompson Band (March 18). . . . The Charlie Daniels Band returns to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on March 14-15.