Billboard Bits: Hydra, Fantomas, Rascal Flatts

News on Hydra, Fantomas, Rascal Flatts

HydraGrateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and noted jam band Particle have teamed up to create Hydra and will launch a U.S. tour April 7 in Santa Cruz. "Hydra is about extreme music," Hart says. "Extreme music for extreme people. I need it!"

The newfound group promises to perform original material (some of which can be sampled at its official Web site), along with Particle songs and samplings of Hart's extensive career, including interpretations of Dead classics.

Here are Hydra's tour dates:

April 7: Santa Cruz, Calif. (Catalyst Club)
April 8: San Francisco (Fillmore)
April 9: San Diego (4th & B)
April 10: Los Angeles (Henry Fonda Theatre)
April 12: Denver (Paramount Theatre)
April 14: Minneapolis (Quest)
April 15: Milwaukee (Rave)
April 16: Chicago (Vic Theatre)
April 17: St. Louis (Orpheum Theatre)
April 19: Covington, Ky. (Madison Theatre)
April 21: Worcester, Mass. (Palladium)
April 22: New York (Roseland Ballroom)
April 23: Philadelphia (Electric Factory)
April 24: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

FantomasExperimental rock outfit Fantomas will release its next album, "Suspended Animation," April 5 via Ipecac. The album features 30 tracks, each titled after a different day in the month of April. The first manufacturing run of the set will feature a 30-page spiral-bound calendar to house the CD, with artwork by Japanese cartoonist Yoshimoto Mara.

Sprinkled throughout the typically schizophrenic music are a bevy of cartoon samples, including Bugs Bunny's famous rhetorical question, "Well, what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?," which ends the disc.

Fantomas will begin a month-long North American tour with the Locust and Trevor Dunn's trio-convulsant on March 31 in Phoenix.
As previously reported, the group will also drop in on the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, to be held April 30-May 1 in Indio, Calif.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

FlattsRascal Flatts vocalist/bassist Jay DeMarcus is taking his country act's love of Chicago to a new level by producing that group's next album. DeMarcus is spending downtime during Rascal Flatts' ongoing tour with Chicago, with an eye on completing the set in time for release later this year.

"Chicago was a big influence on all three of us growing up," DeMarcus says, referring to himself and fellow Rascal Flatts members Joe Don Rooney and Gary Levox. "I admire their musical integrity and when the opportunity came up to produce them, I couldn't let it go by."

Touring in support of last year's "Feels Like Today" (Lyric Street), Rascal Flatts plays Duluth, Minn., tomorrow (Feb. 10). There's a break in the schedule come mid-March, although the band has scattered dates on the books into early-September.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.