Backstage: Space Pimpin' All Over the World

"If you are a human being, then you will hear about The SpacePimps at some point," the band's flyer proclaims. "They are the best band ever to be placed on this fine planet they call earth." They may talk big, but Pittsburgh powerpop band the SpacePimps have a huge sound and packed resume to back it up. What's more, their remarkably level-headed vibe makes the bravado seem downright sweet. The young, accomplished ensemble rocks out around the world with an eclectic blend of 90s pop, old school punk, and sheer hard work.

Born in May 2002 when the crew was still in high school—frontman and guitarist Rishi Bahl and drummer Jared Roscoe attended "a really strict private high school that did not give you room to breathe," says Bahl—the SpacePimps came together in the simplest of ways. Three guys (Bahl, Roscoe, and bassist and vocalist Brian Cain) discovered that they shared similar music tastes and the same longing for a creative outlet. But the band has long since made the enviable and impressive graduation from high-school band to blasting their own music in huge venues like Madison Square Garden—a sound perhaps best described as "melodic punk rock," says Cain, and molded by influences from predecessors ranging from Green Day and Blink-182 to The Ramones, NOFX and Everclear. In fact, the band has already completed three U.S. tours, performed alongside mega-bands including Fall Out Boy, Reel Big Fish, The Starting Line and Bowling for Soup, and—perhaps most impressive of all for an independent group—sold over 5,000 copies of their first EP without label support. When we caught up with them, they had just returned from a three-month tour of Japan, slated to pump up their 2006 release "Turn It Up!"

But it wasn't always this way. "We started out playing tiny shows," says Cain. "We recorded a demo that turned out really well, and started giving it to everyone and everything—I remember begging bands like New Found Glory to listen to it when they would tour through Pittsburgh."

Their big break came when they submitted their CD and were accepted to perform at the New York City Film and Music Festival. From there, the three began to play prestigious New York venues—B.B. Kings Blues Club included—in front of labels and managers—and with that, things started to get big. Promoters came calling, asking the SpacePimps to play alongside bands like Fall Out Boy, "and we didn't have to beg our friends to come see us anymore," says Cain.

Ten months ago, the SpacePimps signed a recording contract with a Japanese label called Kick Rock Music. Now they live dual lives that few college bands ever experience: Japanese superstars who still work hard running their own show in the U.S. They can now walk into a Virgin Megastore in downtown Tokyo and buy their own record.

In the U.S., the SpacePimps handle their own scheduling, promotion, sales, and finances—every layer of the business.

They signed with Kick Rock to release their debut album and organize a tour in Japan after "Turn it Up!" earned serious airtime. "It was simply amazing," says Roscoe. The label arranged all the trappings of a full-fledged tour—hotels, food, promotions and the itinerary—but the best part of the experience by far, the three agree, was the fans. "The shows were packed, and the kids there just go nuts for pop/punk music," said Roscoe. "They make you feel like a rock star—I'm talking mobbing you when they see you. It is unreal to me to think that the songs I write in my apartment by myself end up being sung by people across the world and mean something to them." But being treated as rock stars is exactly the last thing the SpacePimps say they are looking for right now. "Rock star implies some hierarchy," explains Bahl. "We are just guys who poop, play video games, eat, and get heartbroken by lame chicks."

Nor are they interested in trading elements of their style or sound to what Bahl calls "corporate America," in exchange for a big record deal—but they have been talking to a major label this year. Back home, the three are—believe it or not—full-time students at Pittsburgh colleges, although their domestic touring scheduling takes up six months out of the year. Working to earn a triple major in art history, political science and communications, Bahl manages publicity and marketing for the band, while his fellow members study business and political science. Their schedules demand that they take classes only on certain days of the week or online.

"It's definitely not a 'normal' college experience," Bahl admits. And none of the three students will graduate on time.But the group does not seem to have a problem with that. "We are happy and having fun, which is all that matters," Bahl says. "It may sound cliché, but we just want to have a good time!" Spoken like a true college student. Website: http://www.thespacepimps.com