ARTIST NAME: OMC (a.k.a. Pauly Fuemana)
HOMETOWN: Otara, New Zealand
LATEST ALBUM: How Bizarre (Huh!/Mercury)
REASON YOU’VE NOTICED HIM: The quasi-novelty hit ”How Bizarre,” an insidiously catchy bit of ear candy that makes accordion and trumpet as essential as guitar, bass, and drums.
HOW HE WOULD DESCRIBE HIS SOUND IF HE WERE A ROCK CRITIC: ”I’d just call it diverse, I think.”
HOW WE WOULD DESCRIBE HIS SOUND: A pithily melodic fusion of seemingly incongruous musical elements (rap, country, lounge).
TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC: Non-trendy pop lovers of all stripes.
FASHION SENSE: Lots of short-sleeve T-shirts, the better to show off a collection of tattoos that would put Axl Rose to shame. ”I don’t really talk about my tattoos that much, but they’re representative of my culture.”
TRIUMPHANT TALE OF HOW HE BEAT THE ODDS: After a hardscrabble childhood in an Otara ghetto (”When you’ve got no money and your father doesn’t work, you’ll do anything to survive”), the half-Nuiean, half-Maori Fuemana found salvation in music, fronting local band Otara Millionaires Club. He split in 1995 to go solo, taking the band’s acronym with him. After hooking up with producer/co-songwriter Alan Jansson, OMC scored an international hit with ”How Bizarre,” and Fuemana was on his way to becoming a real member of the club.
FUNKY FACT: He harbors a secret desire to work with Sergio Mendes. ”He’s the master,” says Fuemana. ”I actually saw him in a hotel in Singapore. I walked up to him and said, ‘Hello, Mr. Mendes, I love your work.’ I think he thought I was looking for an autograph.”
IF FUEMANA WERE A BREAKFAST CEREAL, HE WOULD BE: Froot Loops
STOCK QUOTE ON THE PITFALLS OF FAME: ”There’s not much of a downside yet, aside from getting homesick. People keep telling me to move to America. I might like to, although I’m very patriotic to New Zealand.”
LEAD SINGER’S INSTANT CHARISMA RATING (OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE): Four and a half
ALBUMS THAT NEVER LEAVE THE TAPE PLAYER ON HIS TOUR BUS: The Doors’ Greatest Hits; Radiohead’s OK Computer; Blur’s Blur. ”I also listen to a lot of country music and blues. I grew up on people like Charley Pride and Sonny Terry.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Touring America throughout the summer; shooting a video for ”I Love L.A.,” a Randy Newman cover that will appear on the soundtrack of the forthcoming Rowan Atkinson comedy Bean.