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Smash-Up Derby vocalist Adrian Roberts

Shake Your Bootie

What do Nirvana, Kelly Clarkson, Cher and AC/DC have in common with pirates? Not much, unless you happen to be rocking out to Smash-Up Derby at Bootie, the band’s monthly party at DNA Lounge. San Francisco’s lasted musical phenomenon pairs top 40 pop lyrics with seemingly unrelated songs during live mashup performances at the club. If you wear a pirate outfit, the cover charge is reduced.

Adrian Roberts, who handles vocal responsibilities along with Trixxie Carr, spoke with SF Station during a recent phone interview.

SF Station (SFS): How do you choose what songs you are going to mashup?

Adrian Roberts (AR): They come about in one of two ways. We’ll schedule band practices with nothing planned. We come up with ideas for instrumentals and me and Trixxie -- the singers -- will just start riffing. We’ll try to think of other songs to sing on top of the instrumental to see if it will work. Because you are so used to hearing the original song, it is really hard to sing a different song over it. After band practice sometimes, my brain hurts.

We also come up with songs by covering mashups that have already been created by mashup DJs. It gets very meta because you have mashups created by DJs, and we as a band actually do covers of the remixes and then we take it back and play it live at a mashup club.

SFS: Has there ever been two songs that you tried to make work, but it just couldn’t happen?

AR: There are a few. I keep singing “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar over every song we play, and goddamn it that is a tough song to mashup. It hasn’t fit with anything we’ve tried, but me and Trixxie are going to sing “Love is a Battlefield” at some point. The hard part with mashups is usually finding a vocal part.

There are a couple rap songs that I would like to do, but Trixxie and I aren’t rappers. I’m dying to do a “Baby Got Back” mashup, but I don’t think Trixxie or I should be the ones to sing it, so we’ll probably have a guest rapper on something like that.

SFS: Is there anything that is off limits?

AR: Other than me or Trixxie rapping (laughs)? Although, that is one of those rules that might get broken at some point. Our guitar player Jamie knows “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice word-for-word. I’m dying to do something with that, but everybody says, “Oh, I don’t know.” That might be one of those ideas that works out better if everyone is incredibly drunk.

I think sometimes we sound like the most drunken wedding band ever because the band is playing one thing and the singers are singing something different. But the band is called Smash-Up Derby and not Train Wreck, so we always try to make sure that it magically and mysteriously works. The ideas is that you will never hear the original songs the same way again.

SFS: Where do the pirate outfits come from?

AR: Bootie is short for bootleg because 99.9 percent of mashups are bootlegs. Theses are tracks put together by bedroom producers and DJs basically using unlicensed and uncleared music samples to create tracks. Everything that we play at Bootie is all pirated, so the pirate theme works pretty well. And, everybody loves a pirate.

Smash-Up Derby performs at the DNA Lounge on the second Saturday of every month.