Agent 51

Agent 51

Infobox musical artist
Name = Agent 51

Img_capt =
Img_size =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = flagicon|USA San Diego, California
Genre = Punk rock Rock Rock & Roll
Years_active = 1995–2005
Label = Suburban Hooligans Records Adeline Records Surfdog Records Alphabet Records
Associated_acts = 51 Guns Arm the Angels The Rattlesnake Aces The Megas
URL = []
Current_members = Chris Armes Eric Davis Sean Scura Mikey Levinson
Past_members = Jared Herndon Rob Hunter Greg Schneider

Agent 51 was an American rock band from Poway, California (a suburb of San Diego), formed in 1995 and originally called Area 51. They released three albums on various record labels before going on indefinite hiatus in 2005. Over the course of their career their music evolved from straightforward punk rock to incorporate aspects of classic rock and Heavy Metal. At various times during their career the band has maintained a mythology about their origins which purports them to be rogue secret agents, on the run from a clandestine government organization with ties to extraterrestrials.

Band history


Agent 51 formed in Poway, California in 1995 under the name Area 51. Initially the band were part of a thriving local punk rock movement that included other groups such as blink-182 and Unwritten Law. Founding member Chris Armes had attended Poway High School with blink-182 member Tom DeLonge, and Armes' previous band Openfast had played as openers for blink-182 on several occasions. This experience contributed to the impetus for forming Area 51.

The band's original lineup consisted of Chris Armes on guitar and vocals, Jared Herndon on bass guitar, and Eric "Airwick" Davis on drums. Herndon soon left and was replaced by Greg Schneider, while Davis moved to second guitar and Rob Hunter joined as drummer. Shortly before releasing their first album the group changed their name to Agent 51 because there were already several bands in existence using the name Area 51.

Early albums and mythology

Their first album, "Red Alert", was released in 1998 by local label Alphabet Records. The album gained them notoriety in the local punk rock scene, and an independent music video was filmed for the title track. Armes took the stage name "Broken Armes" at this time due to an injury he suffered in 1997 which left his arm in a cast. In order to record his guitar parts on "Red Alert" he removed the cast himself and recorded while still injured.

Around this time the band began disseminating the mythos that they were rogue secret agents on the run from the government due to their knowledge of secrets related to extraterrestrial life. To match this theme the band wore matching black suits while performing. It also became common for the band to cover songs from the classic rock and 1970s metal genres in concert, such as AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Highway to Hell."

By the recording of their second album in 2000, Hunter had been replaced on drums by Mike "Mikey L" Levinson. The album, "Just Keep Runnin'", was released that year on the band's own label Suburban Hooligans Records. The music was faster and slightly less punk-based than "Red Alert", and included several songs which had become favorites in the band's live set over the last few years such as "Who's Gunna Riot?" and "The Last Pirate Standing." The album's artwork and liner notes greatly expanded on their secret agent mythos by describing each member as a rogue agent enhanced with super powers through extraterrestrial DNA and technology, as well as detailing their struggle against a secret government organization called "The Agency." The band played on the Warped Tour that summer on the Ernie Ball side stage, winning Ernie Ball's Battle of the Bands competition. They also recorded the theme song for the short-lived San Diego Public Access TV show "Radiation Nation." The song was later included on the 2001 Warped Tour compilation.

"Just Keep Runnin"' caught the attention of Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and his label Adeline Records, who re-released it in 2001 with 2 bonus tracks recorded with new bassist Sean Scura, as Schneider had by then left the group. The band continued to tour, playing at San Diego's Street Scene and other festivals.

uccess and break-up

Agent 51's next album was 2003's "The Red & the Black", released on southern California label Surfdog Records. With it the band moved towards a sound more reminiscent of classic rock and Heavy Metal bands such as AC/DC, Motörhead and Def Leppard. They also distanced themselves from their secret agent mythos by not mentioning extraterrestrials or conspiracies, and by ceasing to wear their matching suits in concert. The song "She's My Heroine" received airplay on local rock radio station 91X, while "American Rock n Roll" was used in the opening episode of MTV's "" and "Air Raid" was later used in the video game "Big Mutha Truckers 2". The album was nominated in several categories at the 2003 San Diego Music Awards and won for "best punk album."

Despite their growing popularity, however, Armes announced that he was leaving the band due to musical and financial pressures. Davis and Levinson formed 51 Guns in the summer of 2004, along with drummer Adam Rapps of Pivit. Agent 51 remained inactive until June 2005.

Reunion and recent activity

On June 5, 2005 Agent 51 played a reunion show at SOMA, an all-ages music venue in San Diego. This performance featured the most recent lineup of the band including Armes, Davis, and Scura, with drummer Adam Rapps replacing Levinson. The band once again wore matching black suits and made reference to "The Agency" and other aspects of their secret agent mythos. The band remained mostly inactive after this reunion show. Davis resumed playing with 51 Guns, who renamed themselves Arm the Angels in 2006. Scura moved to Utah but eventually returned to San Diego. Levinson left 51 Guns, reuniting with Schneider to form The Megas, a video-game rock band based in Los Angeles. Armes, meanwhile, announced his involvement with The Rattlesnake Aces. Agent 51 played a "comeback" show with Pivit and Arm the Angels in February 2008 with the lineup of Armes, Davis, Scura, and Levinson, with Greg Schneider also performing on several songs. The band's most recent performance was in July 2008, again with Pivit and Arm the Angels.

ecret agent mythos

At various times in their career Agent 51 has maintained a backstory about their origins which purports them to be rogue secret agents on the run from government agencies with ties to extraterrestrials. The only notable exception to this was the era of the album "The Red & the Black" from 2003 to 2004, during which the band made no mention of the story and attempted to distance themselves from it.

According to band leader Chris Armes, the secret agent mythos was started due to his longtime interest in extraterrestrials and other stories of alien life, which led to the band originally being named Area 51 after the supposed secret military base where UFOs are said to be stored. On their first album, "Red Alert", the band sings about the presence of UFOs and the government's coverup of their existence in the songs "Red Alert" and "Surprise, Surprise." The album concludes with a clip from the radio program "Area 51" in which a caller identifies himself as a former Area 51 employee on the run, before a mysterious electronic phenomenon interrupts the program. Around this time the band began dressing in matching black suits and claiming that they were secret agents on the run from the government.

According to the band, on July 14, 1999, 2 weeks prior to a show in Las Vegas, they received a mysterious email from a source identifying him/herself as "Res Nulius" which said that they would soon find secret UFO-related information. Upon returning from their trip to Las Vegas the band discovered a set of photocopied papers amongst their musical equipment which appeared to be military documents detailing government secrets about the presence of UFOs and extraterrestrial life. At their live shows the band began to claim that they were rogue government agents on the run, hunted by the government due to their attempts to reveal these secrets to the general public. Archived resources confirmed the band's ties with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, yet their actual work records could not be recovered and the band maintains that these records were erased.

The release of the 2000 album "Just Keep Runnin'" greatly expanded the band's secret agent story, with many new details written into the album's artwork and liner notes. The story claimed that the United States government was secretly controlled by a powerful organization called "The Agency," a 50-member council who had secretly run the world's affairs since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 with the help of their psychic powers. Using alien technology, The Agency had constructed a satellite system codenamed Epsilon-6 which could track every individual on Earth and control the world's population by magnifying and chanelling the Agency's psychic powers, allowing them to become rulers of what they called the "New Earth." However, the Agency had been thwarted when the members of Agent 51 stole a briefcase containing the codes to the satellite network. The notes also detailed the origins and powers of the band and its members:

*Agent 51 is a group of former Agency members and agents who have gone rogue in their attempts to thwart the Agency's plans to rule New Earth. They attempt to reveal the secrets of the Agency to the public while disguised as an ordinary rock band. They must regularly avoid detection by the Agency, who try to pinpoint their location using a combination of alien technology and psychic powers.

*Chris was a member of the Agency until he discovered their plans to rule New Earth. He began working as a saboteur within the Agency, but soon formed a team of handpicked individuals codenamed "Agent 51" to oppose the Agency's agenda. As the leader of the team Chris uses his psychic powers to shield the group from the Agency, and also has exceptional mind control and telekinetic abilities. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Agency allow Agent 51 to combat them effectively.

*Eric was an outstanding Navy SEAL before being brainwashed by the Agency and placed into "Project Night," where he was experimented on with an alien substance called Xenocycline-6 which increased his speed and reflexes and made him a perfect assassin. Working as a hitman for the Agency he carried out the assassinations of key political figures until the Agency decided to scrap the project and eliminate him. Fortunately Chris revealed the Agency's plans to him before he could be eliminated, and he became a member of Agent 51.

*Greg grew up in the former Soviet Union as the son of an American ambassador before being kidnapped at the age of 11 by the "Aura-Z," Russia's answer to the "Majestic-12" program. He was given cybernetic implants designed to record everything he would see and hear, making him an excellent spy for use against the United States. When the implants failed to work, they abandoned Greg and he was eventually discovered by the Agency, who repaired his technological flaws and used him as a spy. Chris eventually deprogrammed him and recruited him into Agent 51, where he became a valuable team member because his cybernetic implants make him immune to psychic influence.

*Mike was created by the Agency as part of a super-soldier program which was the follow-up to Project Night. By combining human and alien DNA the Agency created a being that was both incredibly strong and incredibly vicious. He escaped his captivity and was hunted by Agency military forces before being recruited by Chris into Agent 51.

*Sean was recruited for his unique ability to shapeshift, making him an ideal information resource for thwarting the Agency's latest plots. When the Agency would block out the psychic powers of Agent51, Sean would be sent in as a decoy to undermine the operation. His skills and loyalty have made him a much valued asset. Sean is largely responsible for implanting much of the U.S. government's captured and classified Extraterrestrial technology into the public sphere. Such advances include fiber-optics, as well as anti-gravity propulsion systems.

"Just Keep Runnin"' also explored these themes in the songs "C.I.A.F.B.I." and "Psychic Spies." The band continued to wear their matching black suits in concert and to discuss the existence of extraterrestrials. Their album release party ended suddenly when, according to the band, they had to flee the scene due to the Agency having triangulated their position. They continued to address the subject of their secret agent identities in interviews and at concerts over the next 2 years.

During the period of their third album, "The Red & the Black", Agent 51 abandoned their secret agent mythos and made no mention of it for nearly a year, ceasing to wear their black suits in concert and not writing any new songs dealing with their secret origins. A rumor popularized among fans during this time was that the band had come very close to being captured by the Agency and therefore had to assume civilian identities and downplay their anti-Agency agenda in order to avoid detection for a time.

According to the band, they were once again contacted by Res Nulius in November 2004, during the band's extended hiatus, when he/she sent them a coded message and a key. Sean's uncle was able to decode the message using "hieroglyphic archetypes," revealing directions to a safety deposit box in Olancho, California. The band claim to have opened the box on February 19, 2005, recovering an unmarked metallic sphere roughly 2.5 inches in diameter and weighing 57 pounds, and a metallic i-beam object about 12.75 inches long and 0.5 inches in diameter with 12 hieroglyphic symbols etched into it. They theorized that the sphere could be made of "Element 115", an unconfirmed metal believed to be used to power gravity accelerators in UFOs.

They claim to have turned over a portion of the sphere to Los Alamos National Laboratory for testing, with results still pending. Also reportedly included was a note indicating that Res Nulius would rendezvous with the band on June 5, 2005 at an unknown location to confirm recovery of the objects.

The specified date of June 5, 2005 was also the date of Agent 51's reunion show. The band claim that they hoped Res Nulius would appear at the show, and that they were approached minutes before the show by a mysterious, slender man approximately 5'9" in height in dark street clothes asking about the contents of the box. However, with the show about to start the band could not speak at length with the man, who disappeared afterwards. The band claim to believe that this man was either Res Nulius or possibly Dr. Dan Burisch.

They also claim to have received harassing phone calls and death threats in later weeks from government agencies seeking to keep these documents, articles and objects secret.

The band explained all of these details in a post on their MySpace page dated March 22, 2006, in which they also claimed that their current inactivity and low profile is a deliberate attempt to avoid possible follow-through on these death threats. They claim that they are attempting to post pictures of the information they have received thus far, but are awaiting authorization and security guarantees from Res Nulius. They state that they hope to reconvene soon, but that this information must be kept secret for their protection.

Band members

Non-Album Tracks

External links

* [ Official Myspace profile]
* [ "Just Keep Runnin"'-era official site]
* [ 51 Guns official Myspace profile]
* [ The Megas official site]
* [ The Megas official Myspace profile]
* [ The Rattlesnake Aces official MySpace profile]

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