Powerman 5000 are a slightly unorthodox industrial rock band based out of Boston, Massachusetts, fronted by vocalist Spider One and a revolving door lineup of musicians. Making their major label debut with Mega Kung-Fu Radio, a rerelease from their original independent album The Blood Splat Rating System, the band soon emerged with their trademark high-energy sound, used to good effect on the follow-up and their most famous album, Tonight The Stars Revolt! These albums established their obsession with themes of Science Fiction, and the band were even known for performing in space suits.
The band had a new album, Anyone For Doomsday? primed for release in 2001 but Spider One, afraid of being pigeonholed in this sound, aborted it just before its release (also due to some band members jumping ship at the time). The eventual new album finally arrived in 2003 and was entitled Transform, which was released to mixed reviews due to the band ditching their sci-fi gimmick and adopting a slightly punky flavor, as well as a new focus on social commentary. The band have continued to mine their energetic trademark sound to the present day, with the albums Destroy What You Enjoy and Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere. Copies, Clones & Replicants, a Cover Album, appeared in August of 2011. Their latest albums, Builders Of The Future and New Wave were released in May of 2014 and October of 2017, respectively.
Spider One's older brother is also a musician. You might have heard of him.
- Careful with That Axe: Especially "They Know Who You Are."
- Cover Album: Copies, Clones & Replicants is entirely a covers album, of bands such as Twisted Sister, Devo, T-Rex, Van Halen, David Bowie, INXS, and The Clash.
- Cover Version: "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and "Good Times Roll" by The Cars.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Tonight The Stars Revolt was actually a slicker, more energetic revamp of their earlier sound, which was closer to Funk Metal.
- Even stranger is the inclusion of a percussionist (Jordan Cohen), which aided the albums heavily hip hop influenced vibe. It is also the only time period where the band lacked a second guitarist.
- Spider One's first release "Much Evil" is also worth mentioning, as it was a straight up hip hop song.
- Hidden Track: Tonight The Stars Revolt and its weird techno freakout.
- In the Style of...:
- The band toys with Synth-Pop on their covers album, Copies, Clones & Replicants to at least somewhat emulate the original version of M's "Pop Muzik."
- Elsewhere on the same album, they also do a synth-pop version of a song that wasn't in that genre originally: They slow down "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" considerably, play it in a minor key, and use synths as the lead instrument, turning it from punk/garage rock to the darker side of synth pop.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually at least a 6.
- New Sound Album: Transform was obviously supposed to be this, as was Destroy What You Enjoy.
- Precision F-Strike: Tonight The Stars Revolt! has one, and only one, curse word, on "System 11:11."Now what the fuck are you; some kind of half-assed astronaut?
- Rap Metal: Those who only know them from "Tonight the Stars Revolt!" may be shocked to hear that their debut EP and record had little to no industrial elements what so ever. Rather, they had a mixture of hip hop and metal so smooth that they nearly won "Best Rap" and "Best Metal" album awards in their home city in 1995.
- Their 2017 album New Wave kicks off with "Footsteps And Voices" which is a rare latter-day example of this.
- The studio version of "Horror Show" is a bit too based around synthesizers to qualify for the "rock" half of the genre... At live shows it's performed as more of a rap rock song, and tends to even involve the band "teasing" some of their early rap-rock songs and/or partially covering things like "Sabotage" or "Bulls On Parade".
- Revolving Door Band: Sweet Jesus...
- Sampling: This band loves sampling old horror and sci-fi movies.
- "Tokyo Vigilante #1" samples the announcer and ensuing applause from the beginning of Cheap Trick's Live At Budokan: "ALL RIGHT TOKYO! ARE YOU READY??"
- Shout-Out: The very first line in their song "Nobody's Real," is, "Scary monsters and super peeps."
- Their first EP True Force has Kamen Rider Black on the cover.
- An early demo was called A Private Little War, after a Star Trek: The Original Series episode.
- "A Swim With The Sharks" includes the lyrics "you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing" and "I'll find 'im for three, and catch 'im and kill 'im for ten": Both are taken from a monologue the character Quint gives in Jaws
- Something Completely Different: Piano ballad "Watch The Sky For Me." "Piano" and "ballad" are words that are never usually associated with Powerman 5000. If you're wondering who in the band knew how to play piano, you'd be wrong. It was guest musician Ginger Fish. On top of this, the production of the song is deliberately tinny and retraux-1950's, as opposed to the more "futuristic" sound of the rest of Tonight The Stars Revolt!.
- Stage Names: Everyone on the band. (current line-up is Spider One, Velkro, X51, and Ad7)
- Supervillain: "Super Villain" (with Doctor Doom being name-checked).
- That Man Is Dead: The first lyric on Transform is Spider declaring that "I'm not a spaceman!"
- Title Track: Tonight The Stars Revolt!, Transform, Destroy What You Enjoy, Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere and Builders Of The Future all have one of these.
- The only album that didn't have a title track was The Blood-Splat Rating System....until it was rereleased as as Mega!! Kung Fu Radio