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Between the end of the Slayer tour and the first dates of a lengthy European expedition, Kuk says, the group would love to play its first hometown show. "The Uptown Theater would be really cool," he says. "I've never played there. Or even something small, like The Pub [now The Brick], with five or six bands would be a lot of fun." Playing on a small stage wouldn't be a problem for downthesun, whose live show requires few of the funhouse thrills that Slipknot demands.
"It's heavy and intense, but we don't have a huge production," Kuk says. "Not to take anything away from Slipknot or Mudvayne, but we're not an image-type band." However, Satone, who sports a tattooed face and totes a ragged doll on stage, has learned something about the art of spectacle from his former employers.
Despite its mask-free wardrobe, downthesun will always be linked to Slipknot, not only because Crahan played matchmaker for its members, but also because the groups sound similar. Both combine vaguely rebellious sentiments and self-deprecating slogans (We are filth, downthesun declares at one point) with slightly sanitized death-metal crunch. Instead of speeding through solos, these bands fill the spaces between choruses and second or third verses with fully formed miniature songs that complement their surroundings but bear little resemblance to the host songs' pace or melodies.
Local fans might also group downthesun with Puddle of Mudd, a comparison that's not necessarily apt. For one thing, Puddle of Mudd, as any fired-up Niener's crowd will tell you, isn't metal; it's posthumous grunge, down to the rotting-corpse stink. For another, Kuk and Church didn't pile into Slipknot's spacious clown car and pretend there was no room inside for their Canvas cohorts.
"Canvas was never our band," Kuk explains. "It was Paul's band (guitarist Pauly-C), and they were headed in a different direction." Specifically, Canvas planned to stop raging against the machine and learn to love it, ditching the rap-metal sound in a bid for radio acceptance. As of yet, the gambit hasn't paid off, but Kuk has no harsh words for his former band mates. "It's cool," he says without evident irony. "They wanted to try something new, and I hope it works well for them."
In an interview with the Pitch earlier this year (J.J. Hensley's "The Contenders," May 23), Pauly-C said Canvas painted over its metal edges because it no longer believed a group that brought the full-volume ruckus could get discovered in Kansas City . It's an impression downthesun hopes to change, without inspiring the city's metal-minded musicians to follow its career path by playing their first shows in other Midwestern cities.
"Puddle of Mudd's success has focused some attention on the area already, and hopefully we'll be able to help as well," Kuk says. "I hope Kansas City gets the reputation as a music mecca that it deserves. Not just for heavy bands, but for all kinds of music."
Without stepping onto a local stage -- or many stages at all -- downthesun has already shed some light on the Kansas City scene.
Its label, Roadrunner, one of the most recognizable metal labels around, plans to follow up its latest pet project by keeping a close eye on KC. Its press materials mention the group's founders' hometown prominently, if not positively. ("We're from the armpit of America," Kuk states.) And its high-ranking connections ensure that downthesun will enjoy a hero's homecoming: Anything even remotely related to Slipknot should be able to fill a Beaumont-sized venue. That's a benefit the post-big-time Get Up Kids didn't enjoy until sweetening the deal with headliners Green Day and Weezer. Before coming out in droves, local fans still require metal bands to establish themselves nationally. (Just ask Puddle of Mudd's Wes Scantlin how many fans he used to draw at home playing the same songs a few years ago.) But that's becoming easier to do.