'Guilty' pleasures

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The fairy-tale success of industrial-rock quartet Gravity Kills began in 1994 when future lead voalist Jeff Scheel got an 11th hour phone call from his cousin Kurt Kerns. Kerns, Gravity Kill's drummer and bassist, convinced Scheel to relocate from Texas to Missouri and join the band.

Kerns, along with Matt Dudenhoeffer (guitar) and Doug Firley (keyboards) were recording a song for a CD compilation called "Point Essential Volume I." Their singer had bailed, and with no replacement in town, Scheel agreed to pinch hit. The track, "Guilty," was nailed down with time to spare and was eventually included on the motion- picture soundtrack to "Seven." A contract with TVT Records soon followed, and the group's eponymously titled debut hit the racks in 1995.

All too aware that they might be perceived as one-hit wonders, the band purposely kept a low profile and concentrated on the music. The band's positive reputation is a result of extensive touring and dynamic shows that reach beyond the limits of industrial rock.

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They soon attracted the attention of the Sex Pistols, who tapped them for a supporting slot on their 1996 reunion tour. The very mention of the punk-rock gods elicits a tickled reaction from Scheel.

"We were scavenging for beer in John Lydon's dressing room one night," he laughs. "We didn't expect him to be in there, and he invited us to pull up a seat."

The band's latest recording, "Perversion," reflects the energy of their live performances thanks to a quickly constructed studio in the back of the Gravity Kills tour bus. Scheel's savage vocals lead the attack, while Firley's inventive gimmickry tickles the ear with tasty samples that drift like smoke around Dudenhoeffer's guitar work. The songs dip into themes of trial and perseverance. "What we tried to do with this record is not paint ourselves into any corners," says Scheel.

Though comparisons with Nine Inch Nails and Stabbing Westward have been prevalent in the media, Scheel looks forward to the evolution of Gravity Kills as a band with no boundaries or genre limitations. "It might take another record or two to find our niche," he says. "With ‘Perversion,' we've left a lot of doors open."

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