Hot rocks

Weapons of Mass Creation

Weapons of Mass Creation is, clockwise, Aric Shapiro, Pan Pantoja, Abel Preciado and Joe Atack.

Weapons of Mass Creation is, clockwise, Aric Shapiro, Pan Pantoja, Abel Preciado and Joe Atack.

Photo By brad bynum

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“We’re a band of fucking rocks!” says Abel Preciado.

Mind you, not a band that rocks, but a band of rocks. This exclamation represents Weapons of Mass Creation.

Pan Pantoja (vocals), Joe Atack (guitar), Aric Shapiro (bass) and Preciado (drums) look like four random guys that have been selected for a police lineup. If this were a movie, they would be an unlikely coterie of misfits brought together by chance and Hollywood alchemy to combat some evil drug lord. And, the way they all get along and interact, they look like four dudes at the end of a buddy comedy gleaming over each other.

In fact, because of their diverse backgrounds and interests, it seems unlikely that they would have formed a band in the first place.

“I never even wanted to be in a band,” says Pantoja. Then, after a little reflection, he adds, “I’m a terrible vocalist.”

The band had an accidental origin. Pantoja, who is a performance poet, asked Atack to help him out with a performance, and the band sprang organically from that.

Because they didn’t consciously set out to form a band, they aren’t interested in the normal selfish motivations to which some musicians fall victim. They’re not interested in image, or picking up chicks. Three of the four members are married. They’re all in their late 20s, and this gives them the maturity and freedom to pursue their art for art’s sake.

“I don’t expect to gain anything from this; it’s not about gaining anything, man, it’s about giving,” says Shapiro.

Though their lyrics touch on current issues and American policy, like immigration and income inequality, they insist they’re not a political band.

“I’m just sticking up for people that get picked on,” says Pantoja.

“The idea behind the band was to try to inspire people to stand up for things they believe in,” says Atack. “It’s more like social commentary than political commentary. We’re more a weapon against apathy, I think, than anything else.”

They all have deep convictions, but the group insists they welcome dissent, and the way their shows function, they’re more like high octane town hall meetings than rock shows.

“I guess when I speak, I am inviting other people to speak as well, and I’ve often seen that happen,” says Pantoja.

Because of the band members’ reputation of bringing their message to the public with energy, they’re aligned with the Occupy Reno events, but they’re not simply following some fad. They’ve been saying these same sorts of things for years. However, they are excited to see that such a large group of people are frustrated over the same issues.

Their message does seem to bear a lot of similarities to the worldwide protests going on, as does their ultimate goal. When discussing their upcoming November tour of Montana, they talk about the excitement of being able to spread their message to a different audience, and just simply to get people thinking and talking about the issues.

But, deep down they are just common folks, trying to give voice to those who lack one, which brings us back to this band of rocks. If we can envision each word of Pantoja’s poetry, each note from Atack and Shapiro and each thunder-strike from Preciado as a rock, then they are amassing an arsenal, and it’s spreading. But their intention is not one of turbulence. In other words, they are not in the business of casting stones, but of building foundations, of creation rather than destruction.