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Cyde's panoply of sound ranges from political screed to '80s cheese.

Cyde's music is described as schizophrenic. The fourteen tracks on the regional band's new self-titled CD sound as though nearly as many different bands performed them.

Not surprisingly, Cyde's musical influences are an eclectic mix: the Police, Miles Davis, and Jane's Addiction, mainly. They enjoy jazz-oriented music, big band, and swing. What makes Cyde work--its diversity--is also what makes the band difficult to market.

"The first time our management company heard us they said, 'Wow. This is horrible,'" says lead singer Shawn Hackel, who also plays guitar. "Our managers don't like the fact that we switch gears."

On Cyde's first song, "Spiral Down," Hackel's strong, seductive vocals and slick pop feel bring to mind Bush without sounding overproduced or cliched. The second track, "Pulse," is reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. "Emily" could work in a techno club. "The Elected" features ethnic sounds--are those bagpipes? African drums?--that belong in a harem, with scantily clad women lying around feeding grapes to their master.

"Rock Star" is the heavy-rotation hit. Rage Against the Machine's influence creeps out again on "Red," and next a touch of Henry Rollins on "Song About Nothing." "Radio Song" has a catchy, cheesy '80s feel and tongue-in-cheek lyrics like "Here's our radio song. Haven't I told you that?" The band later makes a political statement with "Like Plastic."

Cyde, which began as a side project (hence the name) for now-defunct Java Bean, handed the singing chores to Hackel by default. "Basically, all the members of Cyde were members of Java Bean," he says. "We parted ways with the singer. In the interim of looking for another singer, we got a bunch of beer, and I started singing. I never really intended to sing. We weren't sure what we were doing. It was just a joke."

Says Mark Sterle, who does samples and plays the saxophone: "The first time I heard Shawn sing, I about shit myself."

After nearly two years together, two of the band's songs--"Like Plastic" and "Demons"--are being played on the The Crow television series. A national tour is in the works.

They consider each other family. Hackel, Mark Sterle (who works at a "hillbilly Richfield bar"), and brother David Sterle (a waiter and bartender at Macaroni Grill) all live together in the Akron area. Drummer Adam Mercer, who also works at a pub, may move in soon. Hackel's recording studio, Grooveyard, is the band's second home. "We practice here in the studio; we record here," Hackel says. "We might as well sleep here."

The band writes the music together, then collaborates on the lyrics. "All of us definitely bring a lot of energy to the band--especially live," says Mark Sterle, who describes himself as the "finishing touches kind of guy." He adds that Hackel is the most creative and prolific, while Mercer provides the band's foundation and "phat groove." Mercer says the band's biggest strength is its positive attitude. "We're not tortured artists," Mercer says. "We actually like living."

And they like to keep up on current events. "We have kind of militant views, which is why we hooked up with Tom Morello of Rage," Hackel says. "'Like Plastic' is a political song. 'The Elected' is the same kind of vibe, but it's a very mean-spirited song.

"We vent very much in the music, but we're kind of goofballs in person."
Although Cyde may be headed for mainstream success, the Cleveland music scene will always be important to them. "We have a strong sense of community," Hackel says. "We'll continue to focus on Cleveland, because that's our home."

Cyde CD release show. 8 p.m., Friday, January 29, the Odeon, 1295 Old River Rd., the Flats, Ticketmaster 216-241-5555.

More by Tracey Read

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