Never before has being Armenian generated so much music press. For Los Angeles' Apex Theory, that means continuously differentiating itself from fellow Armenian hard rock act and Ozzfest 2002 touring

Never before has being Armenian generated so much music press. For Los Angeles' Apex Theory, that means continuously differentiating itself from fellow Armenian hard rock act and Ozzfest 2002 touring mate System Of A Down. The North American leg of the tour kicks off Saturday (July 6) in Bristow, Va., and runs through Sept. 8 in Dallas.

"It's almost like some newly discovered tribe or artifact," Apex Theory singer/songwriter Andy Khachaturian tells Billboard.com. "It's like, 'Oh, the cool Armenians.' Just because we're Armenians, it doesn't mean we're trying to play the same style of music. The mindsets of the two bands are in different places and if people can't see the music for what it is, then they probably shouldn't see it at all."

While System Of A Down is on the main stage and receives second billing to only Ozzfest founder Ozzy Osbourne himself, Apex Theory will be playing the more intimate second stage, where new artists are profiled for the hard rock crowd. Despite the restrictions of a 25-minute set, this is exactly where Khachaturian wants to be.

"Hopefully, it will be a stepping stone for us," he says. "But first and foremost, the opportunity to play the second stage, I think, is cooler sometimes. I remember when Primus played Ozzfest. These guys have been around forever and they were getting stuff thrown at them and booed [by] a bunch of knuckleheads. It's almost like it's good to play the second stage for a band like us because people go to the second stage expecting something different, something new, and something fresh that they haven't heard. So, that's a blessing."

Apex Theory's recent DreamWorks debut "Topsy-Turvy" certainly fits the bill, with a mixed bag of new metal posturing and prog-rock leanings. With unique time structures, creative guitar displays, and ponderous vocals, the quartet has coined its own style as being a "heavy Mediterranean groove." The album re-entered Billboard's Heatseekers chart last week at No. 38.

Considering the quartet has been on the road since March 2001 opening for Stabbing Westward, Static-X, Alien Ant Farm, and Linkin Park and playing last year's Vans Warped Tour, Apex Theory feels it has figured out the rigors of festival touring.

"You don't sweat the small stuff," Khachaturian offers. "Festivals are like you're in, you're out, so you have to know your songs. You bang them out as fast as you can and then you have the whole day to just pretty much mosey around, which is really cool because you get to see some other bands, hang out, and maybe barbecue."