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Santa Cruz Sentinel - circa 2005

Nate Lieby is a musical enigma. He is punctual, a rarity among musicians, grew up listening to NWA and Metallica, and earns a living as a software engineer.

Somehow, despite countless hours of peering into computer screens, Lieby has managed to transcend nerdiness. And his band, 300 Pounds - a cross between Violent Femmes, They Might be Giants and Jack Johnson - is the proof.

"Our music is hard to describe," said Lieby. "We're rock. We usually say eclectic rock. We are palatable to a lot of people, but the music still has our own flare to it."

When 300 Pounds bring their brand of nerd-rock to Britannia Arms Saturday night, get ready for a band who simply loves to play.

"The main reason we get out and play is that it is damn fun to just go out and rock," said Lieby. "We enjoy playing music. We enjoy playing the music we bring together as a band."

For Lieby, who experienced some musical success in Santa Cruz with the ska band The Sneaky Creekans, 300 Pounds began as a solo act.
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After recording Pounds' album in his bedroom, and playing some small shows on his own, Lieby had a change of heart.

"300 Pounds was going to be a solo project where I didn't have to worry about anyone but myself. And then through real life - and trying to do it all alone, I realized that you need a band. And you need to have some sort of set crew to go and do it with," said Lieby.

The result of Lieby's realization is a three-man jam band who flail poppy-intelligence with nine-to-five sensibility.

Lieby plays guitar and sings vocals. Drums are manned by Jon Moriconi, an engineer by day who also played guitar in the Creekans. Bass is throttled by John "Pecos" Davis, who pays the bills by working in the mortgage industry.

300 Pounds' self-titled debut is a collection of smooth eccentricities that play like the soundtrack to Lieby's coming-of-age. The album, which began as a hip-hop experiment as the Creekans were fading, developed into a mixed bag - part techno funk, part Zappa-rock and part acoustic folk.

According to Lieby, the album is a collection of music, "focused on human interaction, life events and whatnot."

Standout tracks, "Timeline," "Somet" and "Hush" are quirky windows into Lieby's life.

"What Can't Be Found" weaves unplugged guitar hooks into a slick lament over a lost love. This track is timeless, pulling listeners into the torment of heartache and loneliness, showing Pounds' serious side.

"Got Nothing" moves at an energetic pace, but in a mellow surf-rock way. The track is silky, a party tune rivaling Ben Harper or fusion-rock icons Sublime.

Pounds' is moving away from their acoustic origins on their new album, according to Lieby.

"The new album is called Metamorphosis," explained Lieby. "Because originally the band was all me. And now, this record has gone through a collaborative process with all the band members. The result is a more rocky feel, more similar to our live shows."

Judging by demos off "Metamorphosis," Pounds are definitely changing musically. The tracks "Dunno" and "Butcher" are infectious and catchy, the kind of songs that bring head-bobbing as a reflex.

"Royalty" is thrash-rock. Aggressive guitar riffs gel with reverb a la 311, making this track a hip-hop fusion party anthem.

For Pounds, playing live represents a climactic opportunity to share life experience with an audience.

"Performing live is a really cathartic experience," said Lieby. "Inspiration can strike anywhere. The idea for a song could have been something you wrote down on a napkin. And you go home and let it stew and make an entire song out of something you just thought of and now you are performing it."

300 Pounds is a band that thinks outside the cubicle. They are the rock equivalent to the film "Office Space." At the Britannia Arms Saturday night, come ready to enjoy local independent musicians, playing music for its own sake.

"Playing music is this great feeling, this endorphin rush. Just to be out there 'rockin-out' doin' your thing," said Lieby