Weapons of Mass Creation
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Weapons of Mass Creation

Reno, Nevada, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Reno, Nevada, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Hip Hop

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Weapons of Mass Creation delivers live power on debut CD

WOMC will release its CD Friday, Nov. 9, at Lincoln Lounge, 306 E. Fourth St. Tickets to the 21-and-over show are $10 and include the CD. The Deadly Gallows and Bazooka Zoo open.

Weapons of Mass Creation is one of the most visceral Reno bands, its live sets symbiotically working the players and crowd into sweaty boogying not only in local bars but clubs on the Sunset Strip on the quartet’s forays to Los Angeles.

Fronted by spoken-word artist Pan Pantoja — who’s prone to bounding his wrestler’s frame into the audience, eyes bulging, while flowing socially conscious lyrics in a brusque voice streetwise and strident — WOMC rocks hard but danceable with its self-described “hip-hop-infused rock.” The easiest comparison is to rap-metal-funksters Rage Against the Machine, but WOMC also veers into softer ballad strains, and instead of venting sheer fury, it seeks to inspire the disenfranchised to stand up for their rights.

Highlights from WOMC’s first full-length CD — “For Your Revolution” — include the ballad “Bullets for Stones,” an enumeration of the economics of inequality from Middle East conflicts to Africa’s blood-diamond trade to Wall Street greed to the Mexican drug war (“You can cross yourself but not the cartels”). “Arizona” is a scathing hard-rock screed about maltreatment of minorities, including immigration-law enforcement in the Grand Canyon State: “In a time of crisis when the chips are down, easy to find scapegoats especially if they’re brown!” “Hometown” is a slow rocker about a hustler trapped in nihilistic poverty — a snapshot of a great many recession-era denizens in Reno and elsewhere: “To some people it’s all just a game. You win or you win, the outcome’s the same.”
Recording the 10-song album in Reno studio Pixie Records was a great call, since owner/producer Dave Newman’s approach captures an act’s energy and feel instead of nitpicking minute details of pitch and meter.

The result packs all the power of a live WOMC show.
Pantoja and guitarist Joe Atack authored the material, with Atack and bassist Aric Shapiro contributing backup vocals. Shapiro’s rock or funk bass lines form a driving rhythm section with drummer Abel Press beneath Atack’s simple but evocative fretwork and riffs. Pantoja’s delivers narrations and exhortations with the élan of a slam poet in the verses, which contrast starkly with the melodic choruses sung or harmonized by Atack.

“For Your Revolution” gets the ticker beating and the bean thinking.
- Reno Gazette Journal


For the last 30 years, innumerable musicians have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to fuse and merge the two best musical genres of the era: rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop. In general, the more successful such experiments have been when hip-hop artists have incorporated rock elements into their beats. It’s because one of the defining qualities of hip-hop is its ability to assimilate the best qualities of other genres, so rock ’u’ roll gets absorbed seamlessly into hip-hop alongside funk, soul and jazz.

It’s been much more difficult for rock bands to successfully incorporate hip-hop without sounding cheesy or dumb. Most of the bands that have made their name performing rap rock or rap metal, like Limp Bizkit or 311, are terrible. One exception is Rage Against the Machine, a band that found common ground between the funky post-punk of Fugazi and the noisy aggressive hip-hop of Public Enemy. And that common ground is political anger.

Reno band Weapons of Mass Creation sounds like Rage Against the Machine. It’s unclear if Rage is a direct influence or if the resemblance is accidental, and one suspects that either way the band members might resent the easy comparison. But it’s there. The music rocks, with a degree of heavy funk in the rhythm section, a versatile guitarist, and a vocalist that spits fire in the hyper-enunciated diction of an angry spoken word poet.

Lead vocalist Pan Patoja writes politically charged rants and chants, like the “Put your guns down” in “The River,” which sounds like Rage vocalist Zack de la Rocha intoning “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.”

The musicians have great dynamic range, moving from mellow, dreamy grooves to ferocious rock explosions. Patoja’s vocal approach is more limited. It’s generally interesting, though it doesn’t offer the same dynamic variation as the music, but guitarist Joe Atack and bassist Aric Shapiro provide more melodic vocal counterpoints.

Atack covers a lot of ground on the record, from lovely acoustic passages to big blazing electric leads. The rhythm section of Shapiro and drummer Abel Press are adept at stop-and-go rhythms. And Patoja’s verses are delivered with convincing intensity. It’s a rap-rock fusion that works. - Reno News and Review


“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. - Reno News and Review


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

The Weapons of Mass Creation is a band known for composing psychedelic hip-hop music with roots in slam poetry and storytelling. They have created a musical tsunami blending genres like rock, folk, blues, country and indie into unique live shows that are often outrageous and energetic. Their goal: encourage listeners to live with peace, love and awareness as they open their eyes, ears and heart to what is going on in the world.

The Weapons of Mass Creation (WMC) is comprised of four members: Pan Pantoja (pro artist and poet), Joe Atack aka ‘Nowhere Joe’ (guitar, vocals, actor, director and writer), Steven Sperber (percussionist, drum player, timpanist, instrumentalist and local Reno artist) and Aric Shapiro (bass, vocals and local Reno artist). The band began to develop in the summer of 2009 when Pan and Nowhere Joe were working together on a play. During breaks and free time the two jammed and experimented with the combination of instrumentals and poetry and by 2010 developed several songs and played their first show in front of 2000 people at The Knitting Factory in Reno, Nevada. After receiving a supportive and warm response from their new fans, WMC  the band was officially born..

WMC have continued to create a buzz in Reno’s local scene performing at Seven Tea House, Studio on 4th, Tree House Lounge, The Underground, Java Jungle, The Sierra Tap House and regular appearances at Speak Your Mind Festivals. In 2010 they were nominated for an award at the first Reno Hip Hop Awards and made a debut appearance in Los Angeles at the Whiskey A Go Go. Their song “Arizona” is currently being played by a local Reno radio station called Bomb Shelter Radio.

In 2011 WMC have continued their growth with shows in Montana and Southern California. Playing shows at Unurban Coffee House, Whiskey a go go, The Key Club, The Silver Dollar Sallon (bar and mainstage shows), Venus Rising Coffee House and The Neon Moon Salloon in The Scandia.
The Weapons of Mass Creation have collaborated with many different artists including Thera, Juice, Fall into Nothing, The Hardways, While You were Sleeping, Trevor Crow, Haddon?eld, Wash Machine, Spoken Views, Knowledge Lives Forever, Crush, Lyon, The Skurfs, The Hard Way, DEVILS OF DESTORTION & TONI JAVICKEY, UNCLE DADDY, BREAKING THE LAW (tribute to Judas Priest), SAM JONES & THE CROSS TOWN ALL STARS, FEAR THY MAKER, CAM LOVES, VENREZ, LA VELVET, EX HANG UPS, CHASING GHOSTS, CENTOX, SUCKA PUNCH, ROSIE & THE COBRAS, SNOW, SALTY DOG, and nearly 50 different emcees.

Their ultimate goal is to tour and share their music with the world while putting on engaging live shows that incorporate other art forms like live performance art, theatre, painting and sculpture.

In 2012 out of hundreds of bands and Singer Songer-writers Weapons of Mass Creation's For Your Revolution was named one of Reno's Best Local Albums 2012.

WMC have been playing gigs in the west and working on their second Album. Recording for Rush Out The Blues starts on October 13th 2014. Rush Out The Blues will be a 20 track epic double album that promises to push WMC to new heights.

Band Members