Fall Fest 2001

By all accounts, Alien Ant Farm has had one hell of a year. Their major label debut, “”ANThology,”” was released March 6 by DreamWorks/New Noize. That album has since gone platinum and is continuing to climb Billboard’s Top 200 charts.

Their single, “”Smooth Criminal,”” has held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Modern Rock Charts, and the Marc Klasfeld-directed video has gained heavy rotation on MTV and VH1. They played England’s legendary Reading Festival, performed at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards and are now embarking on their own headlining tour.

Not bad for a band that formed just five years ago in Riverside, California.

In 1996, vocalist Dryden Mitchell, guitarist Terry Corso, bassist Tye Zamora and drummer Mike Cosgrove were all bumming around the local Riverside rock scene, playing in various bands, when they eventually decided to play together.

“”Individually, we were trying to figure out who were the best players in the area,”” recalls lead singer and lyricist Mitchell. “”We kind of identified with each other and started cheating on the bands we were playing with at the time, getting together after practices. We played our first show in 1996 . . . and have been together ever since.””

However, it was guitarist Corso who came up with the band’s unusual name.

“”I was daydreaming at my dull desk job with my feet up and I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if the human species were placed on earth and cultivated by alien intelligence? Maybe the aliens added us to an atmosphere that was suitable for us and they’ve been watching us develop and colonize, kind of like what a kid does with an ant farm, where the aliens are the kids and humans are the ants.'””

It wasn’t long before Alien Ant Farm was gigging steadily throughout the western United States and Europe, playing to huge festival audiences. Their boldly titled, self-released debut album, “”Greatest Hits,”” earned them a Best Independent Album award at the 1999 L.A. Music Awards.

It was then that Alien Ant Farm became the first band signed to Papa Roach’s New Noize label, cementing a professional and personal relationship that started when both bands were slaves to the California club circuit just years before.

When Papa Roach gained popularity, they did not leave their old friends behind.

Corso explains, “”We always said whoever takes off first would help the other group up, and that’s the way it happened. They’ve been very vocal about us, which is priceless, and we can’t thank them enough.””

Now it is Alien Ant Farm’s turn to reach out to bands such as Dredg and label-mate Pressure 4-5, who will join them as they kick off their headlining tour this October.

Onstage, Alien Ant Farm tries to keep things light and fun.

“”Music does good things to people — it’s one of those art forms everyone enjoys,”” explains Mitchell. “”It’s magical when we play our stuff for the fans and they light up. We take our music very seriously, but we’re also a very tongue-in-cheek group. We want to keep that enjoyment going.””

But don’t take his word for it — check out Alien Ant Farm for yourself Oct. 5 at FallFest.

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