Core Meltdown

A local rap troupe breaks up, while Captured! By Robots is Star Trekkin' into town

After five years together, Core Project -- which took home Best Hip-Hop honors at the 2005 RFT Music Awards -- has broken up.

According to vocalist-lyricist Mathias, the group reached this decision "about a month ago."

"It's just one of those things," he says. "The band probably stuck around a year longer than we really should have. We had lots of potential, we didn't really feel like it was our time yet, so we kept it going. But we reached a point where we hadn't written a new song in a while, nobody was trying to be at practice every week. We decided it was best to call it a day and focus on other things."

Before they split for good, Core Project will host a farewell show at Mississippi Nights (914 N. First Street; 314-421-3853) on November 12 -- a night that also features the new line-up of Midwest Avengers and an opening gig by Frozen Food Section. Besides playing the newest material, Core will kick it old-school with former Project-ers including emcee Wik and bassist Todd Miller.

Fans who mourn the breakup won't have to miss Core Project's members for long. Guitarist Chris Taggart has a new rock group, John Boy's Courage (catch 'em for free on Friday, November 4, starting at 6 p.m. at the DoGADA First Friday Gallery Walk; 1617 Locust Street, 314-863-0030), which will self-release a full-length in January.

Drummer Tony Barbata and keyboard player Dave Grelle, meanwhile, have started a trio called the Feed. "It's almost like a swinging, bluesy, punk-rock kind of band," says Grelle. "It's almost like, Jimi Hendrix meets the Strokes meets Ben Folds or something. We've heard 'Ben Folds on acid' -- that's what some of our fans have said."

They're recording their full-length debut; look for a self-released Feed EP by Christmas.

As for Mathias, he and Core vocalist Karma are focusing on Earthworms, a project the former started after moving back to St. Louis from LA about a year and a half ago. That debut album, No Arms, No Legs, Just a Head and a Body, features production from Frozen Food Section's Engleburt and Jonathan Toth from Hoth, and Perfect Strangers' Capo, and is due soon on the Frozen Food Section label.

"Production is -- lots of it's real jazzy, whimsical," says Mathias. "It's real left-sided hip-hop. It sounds more like early-'90s West Coast underground stuff. People who hear it, especially people from out of town, say it doesn't sound like anything they would imagine coming out of St. Louis. It's a fun listen, we're not taking ourselves too seriously as rappers and artists."

What's the man who played in the cult ska bands Blue Meanies and Skankin' Pickle to do after the ska bubble burst in the 1990s? Ex-Carbondale resident Jason Vance created Captured! By Robots, which plays at the Creepy Crawl (412 N. Tucker Boulevard; 314-621-9333) tomorrow night, doors at 7:30 p.m.

The premise is très sci-fi: Vance is JBOT, the only human enslaved by a band of robots who unleash rock operas that educate and entertain. Think the wacky punk/metal/ hip-hop hybrid of Reggie & the Full Effect -- with a higher IQ and way-more-intricate performances.

While the topics covered by past tours have included "Getting Fit" and "The Ten Commandments," this cross-country trek features songs inspired by and about Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"The Next Generation, it sort of crept up on me," Vance says by phone from his hometown of San Francisco. "I've liked sci-fi, but when I was in high school I thought it [TNG] was pretty dumb. And I watched it one day and I was like, 'Wow, this show's not bad.' Then I watched it again and it was like, 'Oh, this show's great!'

"Patrick Stewart is just such a great actor. There's drama, comedy -- it's actual science fiction, unlike the original Star Trek, which was more, like, adventure: 'We ride onto your planet, we have sex with the chicks and then we take off.'"

Longtime fans might notice a lack of rap and reggae in the TNG show and an increase in heavier music, something Vance says isn't accidental. ("I'm just trying to move toward stuff that I would listen to. Would I listen to rap and reggae done by Jewy McJew? Probably not.") Still, he says, he's not abandoning the gimmick factor.

"That's gonna be there for as long as this band is going," Vance promises. "Because you know what? That's what gets us into the papers, that's what gets people to the shows a lot of times. Like, 'Dude, you gotta see these robots.' So that's a selling point.

"I hope to get them to the show with that, and then once they're there, we blow 'em away with what we can really do."

Attention, local bands and artists! What are you most thankful for this year? A to Z is looking for quotes from musicians for an upcoming Thankgiving-themed column. Send your comments -- funny, serious or somewhere in between -- to [email protected] by November 17.