Real World

For some hardworking bands, reality bites. But not for the Dallas group Flickerstick.

Until last April, Flickerstick, a pop-rock band based in Dallas, was simply another hardworking local act with a strong following in the Metroplex. But then reality hit. Reality TV that is. Last summer the quintet—formed by University of North Texas students Brandin Lea (lead vocalist) and Corey Kreig (guitarist) in 1997—was chosen to battle three other groups and the trappings of near-rock stardom while crossing the country trailed by camera crews. The show, Bands on the Run , debuted on VH1 this past April and is up for an Emmy award in the newly created category, "Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class)." On September 16, Bands on the Run —and in essence Flickerstick—will compete for the award against other reality shows including Survivor (CBS) and Junkyard Wars (the Learning Channel).

The VH1 show quickly captured an audience eager to watch four obscure bands attempt to eliminate each other from the program. How did it work? Each band played a gig in a selected city (there were thirteen shows in all), and the one that sold the most tickets, CDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise won. Each band was set up with phone cards, a hotel room, gas money, and $20 a day per member. But it wasn't Flickerstick's sound—neither cutting edge nor run-of-the-mill but somewhere comfortably in between—that catapulted the band to first place. In the end, Flickerstick out-partied, out-sang, and acted more like outrageous rock stars than the remaining challenger, San Diego's Soulcracker. For their efforts, Brandin Lea and the gang (Kreig; Brandin's brother, bassist Fletcher Lea; drummer Dominic Weir; and guitarist Rex James Ewing) were awarded cash prizes, $100,000 worth of music equipment (surely earmarked to replace the numerous guitars and drum sets obliterated by the band during its frenzied gigs), a record deal, and a music video on VH1. They were also overwhelmingly voted number one by fans on the network's Web site, earning the band an extra $25,000.

Even though Flickerstick just wrapped up its latest tour in Austin and recently signed with Epic Records—the label of such popular artists as Pearl Jam, Oasis, and Jennifer Lopez plans this fall to rerelease the band's debut album, Welcoming Home the Astronauts —the band still hasn't lost touch with the real world. Flickerstick will kick off a new tour August 24 at the Groovy Mule in Denton.

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