KINGMAN - They've played to crowds of tens of thousands from Arizona to Austin, Texas. They've received regular rotation on radio stations in Phoenix and Las Vegas. They've even had one of their songs featured on the soundtrack of the 2006 PlayStation 2 racing game, "The Fast and the Furious."
With all that exposure, you might think that when a member of Mohave County's most famous "muscular alternative" rock band The Asphalt wanders into the corner drug store, they might expect a reaction, if not a mob of screaming fans, at least an occasional "Oh my god, you're that guy from The Asphalt!"
But despite their steadily rising profile throughout the Southwest and into parts beyond, guitarist Jason Marino, drummer Nick Turner, bassist Jon Stutler and lead vocalist Randy Mazick have always found the reception at home rather subdued compared to that of Vegas or Phoenix, where they can't walk down the street without being recognized.
"We're very much like a garage band here, where our moms and people from the office will show up," said Marino, who lived in Phoenix before moving to Kingman several years ago. "We've played huge music festivals with 15,000 people at them, but we can literally go anywhere we want to around here, and maybe once a month someone might recognize us."
But that may change once several of the band's current projects reach fruition. The group is already preparing for the release of their fourth studio album, "Learning To Forget," which is scheduled to come out in February. With this album, however, the band is also working with writer/director Troy Higgins to produce a music video to accompany the album's first single, "Where The Past Begins."
The video, which will star Fort Mojave resident Ripley Smith, will be shot on location in and around Kingman, with several local businesses, including the House of Vintage antique furniture and clothing store and the Natural Planet vitamin and health food store, providing the backdrop for several shots.
Shooting is scheduled to start in a few weeks, with the video set to appear on an interactive media disc, to be released with the album. The video will also be provided to MTV, MTV2 and Fuse TV.
The video will feature Smith as a troubled young girl who comes across the ruins of her home, a metaphor for the ruin she herself has made of her life. The girl digs through the wreckage, discovering a photo of her grandmother, and the sight of the photo moves her to get her life back in order and start again. The video then follows the girl as she buys new clothes, reinvents herself, reunites with her loved ones, and eventually, finds new love.
"It's all about moving forward and changing your life," Marino said. The video is perhaps best summarized by the lyrics: "I'm not trying to be perfect/Just a little bit, just a little bit closer."
In addition to the music video, The Asphalt are also developing a combination travel and food show for cable television. The show will be based on the band's search for unique dining experiences throughout its trips across the Southwest, and will follow band members as they travel from gig to gig, stopping in an assortment of oddball, off-the-beaten-path restaurants and diners.
"With working, traveling bands, food is always a hot topic," Mazick said. "Besides getting to the gig on time, food is the most important thing. Ask any band about food, and you'll have an easy two-hour conversation."
One of the most important aspects of being on the road, Mazick said, is the fact that you've only got so many meals to enjoy, and that it's important to make each one count. For this reason, the band tries to research the restaurants along each of their tour routes to make sure they can avoid as many big name fast food restaurants as possible.
To this day, Mazick said one of his life's biggest regrets was stopping at El Paso, Texas, at 8 in the morning and deciding to eat at a Burger King, rather than have a look around first. Shortly after breakfast, he said, the band walked across the Rio Grande into Juarez, Mexico, only to find a whole host of independently-owned taco shacks they could've eaten at instead.
"We wasted our one meal that morning in El Paso, and we should've spent it in Juarez," Mazick said ruefully. That lesson, he said, frames the entire basis for the show.
"Who better to know about those little hole-in-the-wall places in hole-in-the-wall towns?" he said. "For every Vegas, Phoenix or El Paso, there're two Las Cruces, N.M.; a Junction, Texas, and a Fredericksburg, Texas."
The show will be produced with the help of fellow musician and record label owner Warren Fitzgerald, whose musical credits include work with the Vandals, Oingo Boingo, Tenacious D and Dweezil Zappa, among others. Currently in pre-production, the show is set to begin shooting in early 2010, with Kingman's own Market Basket set to be featured in the show's first episode, as the band prepares to set out on a new tour.
"The Market Basket is a gem, you know," Marino said. "And yet, nobody seems to know about it."
Marino said the band is still working out final details for the show, including which network it will eventually air on, though it's being set up for any of the myriad of cable channels that deal with food, travel or both.
In the meantime, The Asphalt are preparing to headline a charity "Battle of the Bands" contest at Kingman High School set for 7 p.m. Dec. 11, with proceeds going to the school's Students Against Destructive Decisions club. Following that, the band will play their biggest show yet at the Tempe Festival Block Party on New Year's Eve, where upwards of 80,000 revelers are expected to turn out to see dozens of bands, including headliners The Doobie Brothers.
"It's hard to wrap your head around a crowd that size," Marino said.
For more information on The Asphalt's upcoming events, or to pre-order their new album "Learning To Forget," visit their Web sites at www.theasphalt.net or www.myspace.com/theasphalt.