Jeez, in today's artsy modern rock climate, it's almost sacrilegious to admit a craving for unpretentious fun. but if you're ready to indulge in brawny pop songs full of punchy guitars and hilarious lyrics, Size 14 provides a perfect fit.
"We're kind of a guilty pleasure," laughs Linus, leader of the Hollywood-based group. "After years of listening to lo-fi indie rock, I think a lot of people are finally starting to admit they like big sounds. I'm unapologetically into pop music with big hooks and big choruses."
Brandishing guilty pleasures and irony-drenched pop gems, Size 14 is the self-titled debut album by Linus and his bandmates - Kevin Danczak, Ray and Dave Armstrong. Leadoff track "Claire Danes Poster" kick-starts Size 14 in aggressive fashion, propelled by a mixture of adrenaline and outlandishness (sample lyric: "I'm going to pick up some beer, stay at home and stare at my Claire Danes poster...every once in awhile I pretend she's my hand"). Earlier this year, the song was used as background music for Claire Danes "Rock The Vote" ad, broadcast nationwide on MTV Music Awards.
Linus unabashedly confesses that the song was actually inspired by a Claire Danes poster on his bedroom wall. "Instead of trying to be cool, I might as well admit to being a geek - people can relate to that better."
Embracing geekdom in all its splendor, "Formula Guy" is Size 14's manifesto. "I really do prefer formulaic movies and love songs," Linus admits. "I'm not usually lucky in romance, so when I'm angry or upset, I'll write a funny love song to cheer myself up. A lot of people think love songs are cliched, but I find them therapeutic."
Viewed from Size 14's fractured vantage point, love songs are anything but cliched: titles such as "Sleeping In The Wet Spot," "People Get Really Drunk In Las Vegas" and "I touched her Ass" hint at the stinging humor which fuels each track. A love song of a different sort, "Rollin' In The 5-1-0" pokes fun at America's automobile infatuation by rhapsodizing about Danczak's decrepit Datsun 510 hatchback. "In reality," laughs Linus, "that car is a total piece of shit."
Recorded with producer Mike clink (Guns N' Roses), Size 14's debut captures with razor sharp clarity, the combustible energy of the group's live shows.
Adding an unusual element to the album's manic approach, Daryl Dragon ("The Captain" of Captain and Tenille fame) contributes monster moog synthesizer lines on five songs. The band members first met Dragon while recording the album at Dragon's Rumbo Studios. " He was kind of shy at first," admits Linus, " but he was totaly cool to work with; definitely the pop master."
The Size 14 creative method is astonishingly simple: Linus writes the music and lyrics and his bandmates gleefully leap onto the song like a pack of crazed jackals. The song "Shane" shows the group's spontaneity at its most extreme. While on an airplane en route to New York City for a crucial January 1997 showcase, Linus hastily scribbled lyrics on a barf bag during the flight. After a quick tutorial at soundcheck, the band performed "Shane" that night, unfazed by the gig's high-pressure stakes. Soon after that fateful showcase, Size 14 linked a deal with Volcano Recordings, ushering in a new chapter in the group members' collective odyssey. Linus (a.k.a. Kevin dotson) grew up on the aptly named island of Satellite Beach, near Florida's Cape Canaveral ("I've literally seen rocket parts and stuff wash up on shore"), and began playing in local glam/metal bands at age 15. He was dubbed Linus shortly after moving to Los angeles in 1994 at age 21. "I was going through my Beatles phase at the time and wearing lots of striped shirts. One of my friends said I looked like I was dressing from the 'Peanuts' collection. He introduced me to everyone as Linus. Now hardly anyone in L.A. knows my real name."
While working a dreary telemarketing day job, Linus linked up with Oklahoma emigre, Robt Ptak, through an ad in L.A.'s notorious Recycler classified newspaper. Drummer Dave Armstrong also responded to Ptak's ad and was inspired to head westward from pittsburgh, leaving behind a plum radio DJ job (he was known to thousands of Pittsburgh listeners as "Ace London"). Linus' L.A. roommate, Kevin Danczak, a Nebraska native, immediately joined the crew to complete Size 14's lineup.
Based in Hollywood, the group was soon wowing local crowds with their energetic, irreverent live shows. "We just try to be ourselves," explains Linus,"a bunch of guys in skate gear goofing around, having a good time and daring he audience to let down their defenses and get involved."
That sense of vulnerability underscores every facet of size 14 - even the band's name. A gangly, 6' 2" tall Linus named the group after his shoe size. "I'm self-conscious about the size of my feet. All my life, especially in music, I've tried to flaunt my flaws. Whatever those flaws may be, I'll bring them to the forefront, joke about them and use humor to cope with them. To be honest, I'm just sort of a normal, dorky guy who was the geeky metal-head in high school that none of the girls would talk to. Music has been my creative oasis from all of that stuff."
With its mammoth riffs and biting lyrics, Size 14 celebrates the dilemma of being a round peg in a square hole, an outsider looking in. Hey, and don't forget - everybody needs to indulge in a guilty pleasure now and then.