Evolution Rock 

For Doug Pinnick and King’s X, X doesn’t necessarily mark the spot.

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Evolution (ev-e-loo’shun): A gradual process in which something changes into a significantly different, especially more complex, or more sophisticated, form.

Sound AffectsFAUN FABLES Mother Twilight (Earthlight) Where jokers like Tenacious D take the piss out of Led Zeppelin’s misty mountain Hobbit fairytales, Faun Fables (singer Dawn McCarthy and instrumentalist Nils Frykdahl) celebrate them. McCarthy’s otherworldly voice sweeps between soaring falsettos, breathy whispers and multitracked chants that intertwine with guitars, harps, flutes and rudimentary percussion to create something familiar as you’ve never heard it before. If ever there were a middle ground for experimental alt-rock geeks and Renaissance fair groupies to sit down and drinketh from the same goblet, this is it. [Live at Burt’s Tiki Lounge Saturday, Nov. 10]

SEVENDUST Animosity (TVT) Musically, Atlanta’s Sevendust are so far ahead of the nü-metal pack it’s ridiculous—so why are all of their past (and vastly inferior) opening acts blowing up bigger? Is it because frontman Lajon Witherspoon can actually sing and carry his dreadlocks without looking like a moron? Animosity is as melodic as it is dense and dark, and even when the band veers into power-balladry it’s nowhere near as clingy and annoying as Staind, the Air Supply of millennial rawk. Sucking less than the rest isn’t enough to qualify Sevendust as innovators, but at least it’s something.

DMX The Great Depression (Def Jam) While everyone was claiming hip-hop sellout over Ja Rule’s new Love is Pain, DMX just stayed his gruff self and debuted this mean-beat mutha at No. 1. After so much platinum with his previous releases, it wouldn’t seem there’s anything for him to be this pissed off about anymore, but he’s articulating it better than ever. Tough, rock-edged anthems like “Bloodline Anthem” rub up against cautionary bouncers like “Shorty Was Da Bomb” and standard he-barks/she-coos radio targets like “I Miss You” (with Faith Evans), but they’re lyrically superior to the peers. Now get him a lozenge.

THE CRANBERRIES Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (MCA) Despite being an irritating, chicken-necked waif with a gumball-sized brain, Dolores O’Riordan really does have an amazing voice. If she ever gets around to dumping her deadweight Cranberries and hands herself over to some control-freak producer who’ll slap her silly at the first sign of political-retard rhymes like “Looks like we’ve screwed up the ozone layer/I wonder if the politicians care,” maybe she’ll have something. Till then, it’s just a never-ending string of indiscernible (and badly titled) albums from a crap band that should have been downsized from the Universal corporation years ago.

—Bill Frost

Growth (groth): 1. Full development; maturity. 2. Development from a lower or simpler to a higher or more complex form; evolution.

One of these words is blasphemy. That is, if you’re a Christian. Once upon a time, King’s X vocalist-bassist Doug Pinnick called himself a Christian, but he evolved; he grew. The person he became—no, revealed—could no longer accept certain tenets of Christianity, much less the existence of God as defined by Christians.

Pinnick is gay, which to some contradicted his role in the 12-year-old, incidentally Christian, rock trio. Yet his faith contradicted his essence and was the core of a lifelong struggle until, in the interest of personal peace and happiness, evolution mandated itself and he came out in an interview with the Christian publication re:generation.

The disclosure was almost unnecessary, as even a cursory glance at Pinnick’s lyrics reveals a conflicted, alienated man. And if anyone wanted to know why, they need only ask. “I’ve always been one to talk about the truth as I see it, no matter what it is,” he says. “I felt like, if I’m going to preach about being honest, I need to be honest, too. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t. I mean, it’s been a very, very hard battle for me, being gay, because I’m homophobic. I was raised that way, so I hated myself. But when it started to get to me psychologically, I just had to come out of my closet and say, ‘This is who I am. Love me or leave me.’”

While it wasn’t news to his bandmates, guitarist Ty Tabor and drummer Jerry Gaskill—who knew from the beginning—there was nevertheless a ripple and a consequence. King’s X online message boards buzzed good and bad, and Christian booksellers—only having stocked the band’s music for two weeks prior to Pinnick’s revelation—pulled King’s X product from their shelves. “We figured that would happen,” he says without ire. “Ty [the only member of King’s X who still calls himself a Christian] even said to me, ‘Good. Now we can play for real people.’”

The actual impact of the ban was less traumatic than the situation would imply. In fact, it was something of a boon. According to Pinnick, King’s X fans—Christian and otherwise—remained loyal. They were fans for other reasons, be it the music, a sinewy blend of funk, Hendrixian guitar and Beatles-esque harmonies, or a message of a different sort. “Everybody’s got their demons. Very few people that listen to King’s X, I believe, are gay, but they seem to relate to [what] I’ve been through with their own problems, which has been a good bonding between me and the fans.”

As for a financial impact, well … it didn’t even register. “I know that most people who buy King’s X music go to regular stores to buy it,” he says. “The Christian buying public isn’t very big when it comes to King’s X, [although] I know we had a lot of fans in the Christian market at one time. But they’ve got P.O.D. now, so they’re all happy again.” [Laughs.]

So if the Christian buying public has a replacement for King’s X, who or what replaces God for Pinnick? Does he know, as Christians are fond of reminding their back-slidden, that God still loves him? As it turns out, these are dangerous questions to ask a learned, ardent man. The Reader’s Digest condensed version, if you will: “Me and God don’t got no fuckin’ problem. I ain’t got no problem with God, whatever—whoever—it is. My problem is all these people that put his name on their work.”

In other words, he’ll ponder the idea of a nameless, faceless, genderless higher power, but no other man’s interpretation, account or method of salvation will do. Believing in oneself—a basic right he denied himself for years—is the only reliable doctrine, and blind belief only breeds self-denial, guilt and unhappiness. “Religion, to me, is just a terrible, terrible disservice to mankind. Everybody feels they’ve interpreted the Bible correctly and their way is right. I look around and go, you know, if Jesus came right now and said, ‘Hey, here I am. I’m the Son of God. I’ve come back to you,’ these same guys would go, ‘Get the fuck out of here!’ It’s stupid. Give me a break.”

It’s this doubt policy and attitude of hope and self-discovery that permeates King’s X’s just-released ninth album, Manic Moonlight (Metal Blade). But in making a case for Pinnick’s evolution, one must consider that the band has also evolved, on a musical as well as a personal and philosophical angle. Moonlight finds the band as musically deft as ever, possibly at a zenith. Pinnick’s bass is at the forefront, a result of Tabor’s desire for another source of inspiration: Each song originated with Pinnick writing a bassline to a MIDI loop. Tabor, in turn, wrote guitar parts to match Pinnick’s lines. Consequently, the songs are decidedly funked-up, though still characteristically psychedelic and abstract.

But to Pinnick, it’s just King’s X. “I think we’re better musicians only because it’s been 12 years and we’ve got to get better. Other than that, I don’t notice anything. It’s sort of like when your hair grows. You don’t know it’s gotten longer unless somebody tells you, or you just wake up one day and [notice]. It wasn’t until a year ago that I realized that every record we put out is so different from the next one. To me, it’s just King’s X putting records out.”

And Doug Pinnick is just Doug Pinnick, albeit happier and more free.

“The greatest thing that happened to me was, when I stopped believing in God, I stopped believing in the Devil. When I stopped believing in the Devil, all my fear went away. I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to walk down the street. I’m not looking over my shoulder thinking the Devil’s going to get me, or God is watching me, so I’d better not do that when there’s nothing wrong with what I’ve done.

“We used to preach when you come to Christ you’re free and you have peace and you have happiness. Well, for me, I got all that stuff when I stopped believing in God. I was in prison; I was unhappy. I felt like I didn’t fit in … And then people tell me that I didn’t believe in God in the first place. Well, I totally did. I gave my whole life to it. I studied it. I learned it. I lived it. I really, really did.” u

King’s X with Moke. Liquid Joe’s, 1249 E. 3300 South, 467-JOES, Friday Nov. 9, 9:30 p.m.

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