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Sure bets

Despite the punch-line name, Millions of Brazilians are as seriously Detroit as they come

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Published 2/25/2009

Let's get this straight right off: Millions of Brazilians have big ambitions.Cool?It's the eve of their first EP release, two of the band's members — drummer Chris Gruse (aka Zoz, a nickname he's had since childhood, not some pretentious stage moniker) and vocalist-guitarist Nick Cicchetti — are sitting in Woodbridge Pub. The band's third member, guitarist Derek Dorey, couldn't make it: he's stuck at work; that is, he's painting a house. Swilling coffee and wondering what to do when the "windfall" from their new record arrives, the duo's thoughts immediately turn to horse racing. That's right, record sales and horse racing.

"Well, how much does a horse cost?" Cicchetti says. Zoz shoots back, "Hopefully as much as we make from our EP!"

While they're awaiting horse-racing dividends, Millions of Brazilians might have to settle for some area buzz and notoriety. For now. Naming the group after a supposed George W. Bush-ism (it's rumored the ex-prez thought a "Brazilian" was a number with a lot of zeroes), the band quickly turned heads with their song "Vermont," an anthemic live favorite. Mixing a sense of Fugazi-inspired hard-edged punk with dance-rock rhythms, and pretty much anything else they can handle, MOB has concocted a mix that can hop genres and make your head spin.

The band's debut EP, Half Horse/Half Horse, was scheduled for release last summer. But rather than drop music with which they weren't completely satisfied, the band took extra time and added two additional songs. The results are well-rounded.

Zoz: "We had these songs — 'Armenia' and 'Hammer Hammer Carrot' — that fit so well with the stuff on the EP. So it just made sense to finish those and put all seven songs out together so we could start with a clean slate regarding new material,"

"Hammer Hammer Carrot," eh?

"It's about Kwame [Kilpatrick], actually," Cicchetti adds. "The name comes from that building on Woodward — the one with the neon hammer. It's supposed to be a nail, but looks like it's hitting a carrot."

As a band that's equally at home sharing the stage with any number of local and national acts, the MOB guys have made themselves comfortable in virtually all corners of the Detroit music scene. It helps that they are such devout Detroit music fans themselves. This year's Blowout is the band's second year in the event (last year's appearance was the third show they ever played).

"We played at 9 p.m. at the Belmont last year," Zoz says. "Sometimes people just don't turn out that early for stuff. We weren't sure what to expect, but the club went from empty to full in no time. And by the time we started playing, the place was really full. This year we're playing the New Dodge, which has a great sound system and a balcony. So it'll sound great and the chances are increased that Nick will jump off something and do physical harm to himself."

The band's enthusiasm for this year's Blowout is easily matched by their excitement for this city's music scene in general. "Detroit has such a great sense of community — some of our favorite bands live within five blocks from us," Cicchetti says.

Zoz adds: "Blowout is going to be so awesome this year — all of our favorite bands are playing after our set that night. So we can see them. Daniel Johnson, Deastro, Zoos of Berlin. ... [Thursday's] gonna be a great night. We hope lots of people who haven't seen us will take the time to come out. Blowout is such a great way to get seen by people. And I won't lie. Our goal is to play the best show of Blowout."

With ambitions of Blowout perfection, a new EP and a potential Triple Crown winner in their future, Millions of Brazilians have a possible trifecta on their hands. Put your money here if you're looking for a sure thing.

Millions of Brazilians play Blowout at 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at the New Dodge Lounge, 8850 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-874-5963; with Love Meets Lust, Marco Polio & the Vaccines and Fields of Industry.

Laura Witkowski writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to

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