IN THE WORLD of rock music, hardly anything mainstream actually rocks anymore, in the truest sense of the word. I mean, examine the contents of the most recent Rolling Stone magazine: The Backstreet Boys. U2. 'N Sync. Granted, RS has become more of a bible of nostalgia than a voice of the railing youth, but even its supposedly hipper younger sister, Spin, features b(l)ands like Papa Roach and Creed on a regular basis. Yawn. Perhaps this explains the kids' continuing obsession with slutty, androgynous '80s butt rock bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Lita "Queen of the Universe" Ford, and the fact that you can buy their t-shirts at that mecca for yuppies and suburban teenagers, Urban Outfitters. Regardless of the cheese factor, those '80s bands were the last time that mainstream rock was actually straight up rock music.

So here's what I'm talking 'bout: Grassroots Rock and Roll. Look to your neighbors for the rock, my friends, and you will not be disappointed. What I'm really talking about here is The Owners, four guys who A. haven't lost the vision and B. give you an instrumental, classic-rock/ metal twist with a little distortion in there for flavoring. Consisting of drummer Dean Miles, guitarist Jeff Blanston (both ex-members of Gern Blanston), and Josh Ziady (bass), The Owners formed a year and a half ago, adding Mike Heiges (guitar) to the mix later.

"I had this breakdown and I went to California and totally readjusted myself. The first night I got back, I went to this great show, and they asked me if I wanted to play with them. It was good when we first got together; we were just kind of having a freakout. It was chaotic," says Heiges.

Miles agrees. "Yeah, there were psychedelic jams, we were just rocking out. But I'm amazed at how well Mike and Jeff play together."

The Owners' instrumentals oscillate from aggressive, expressive rock guitar and awesomely commanding drums to driving changes. They rely on dynamics and interesting time signatures, but they're neither too formulaic nor too complicated. The result is an interesting marriage of super classic metal-influenced rock, a tiny smidgen of prog, and so much fist-thrusting anthemic, you'll want to shed a tear. Or bang your head; it's heavy, and you know, it fucking rocks.

"I like bands that are tricky and crazy, but we've always played on rhythms. You can still tap your foot to it," says Blanston.

"You can wow 'em a little bit, but you don't want to lose them," says Miles.

This coming from a band that has to have a diagram while writing songs. "Someone will bring in some parts and mess around and put things together. It gets really complicated sometimes, so we have to draw a map and follow it. It's actually a good way to write stuff," says Heiges.

"Yeah, people will come down to our practice space and look at our map and be like, 'What the hell is this?' It'll say, like, 'da-da-da--4 X4--heavy intro,'" laughs Miles.

Although The Owners' rock is flashily progressive enough to land them opening spots for Don Caballero and the wicked White Stripes, they, too, still have a love for notoriously cheesy butt rock.

"As soon as we save up a thousand bucks, we'll be playing with Quiet Riot," says Blanston, referring to the rumors that Quiet Riot will play anywhere for a grand. "We're halfway there. As soon as the band fund gets to a thousand, we'll be playing with them in my basement."

So while the rest of the world is enjoying their "rock" in the form of U2 or Lyte Funky Ones (L.F.O.) or goodness knows what else, you and I can indulge in The Owners. Their first CD comes out in July 2001, tentatively, and their live show is a barrage of energy that can only come from one desire--the one to rock.