Performance art troupe Blue Man Group is plunging headfirst into the rock world for its upcoming stint on the Area2 tour, scaling back its theatrics and putting more emphasis on the musical aspect of

Performance art troupe Blue Man Group is plunging headfirst into the rock world for its upcoming stint on the Area2 tour, scaling back its theatrics and putting more emphasis on the musical aspect of its show. "Why would Blue Man Group want to go out on the Area2 tour without any lights and video or any of their other performance art contraptions?" asks co-founder Chris Wink in a statement. "We are currently building a rock concert-oriented show that will have all the bells and whistles, but before we add the visual layer, we want to be sure that the music can stand on its own."

"We've performed real short sets in rock settings before, and we really enjoyed it; but we always wished we could do more," co-founder Phil Stanton says. "The problem was, most of our theatrical material didn't quite seem right at a rock venue. When it came time to work on our second album, we wrote the music with a new rock show in mind."

As previously reported, that album is being executive produced by Dan "The Automator" Nakamura. Tentatively titled "The Complex," it is due out in early 2003. "I'm trying to get them into more melodic and less rhythmic things," Nakamura told Billboard.com earlier this year. "I want them to be Blue and do their thing. But I want to add a little musical sanity to it."

"'The Complex' is the Blue Man's first big step out of the theater and into the world at large," Wink says. Expect some of the songs to feature guest vocalists, one of which is likely to be the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. "I just got the track in so I don't know what it's going to end up being like," Coyne tells Billboard.com. "I like them. I think they're an interesting creation."

Blue Man Group's debut Virgin album, "Audio," peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart in May 2001.