Atomic Opera

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Atomic Opera

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Origin = Houston, Texas, United States
Genre = Hard rock
Years_active = 1991–present
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URL = []
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Atomic Opera are a hard rock band from Houston, Texas. Their style blends progressive rock, art rock, metal, medieval influences, and eastern music.


Formed in September 1991, the band began when founding member Frank Hart moved from Missouri and joined forces with producer/manager Sam Taylor. The lineup consisting of Frank, Jonathan Marshall, Mark Poindexter, and Len Sonnier (brother of Dane Sonnier of the Galactic Cowboys), was fleshed out with a few different Houston-area musicians over the next few years.

In December 1991, Atomic Opera went into Rampart recording studio with producer Sam Taylor, and Engineer Steve Ames to record a demo consisting of the songs "For Madmen Only", "Daze of Love In Grey", "The Meaningless Word" and "everdream". They record more demos at Rampart in 1992.

In September 1992, Sonnier quit the band, and was replaced on bass by his good friend and bass tech, Jonas Velasco.

In 1994, after Derek Shulman, president of Collision Arts (a subsidiary of Giant Records) saw the band play live at Zelda's in Houston, he signed them the spot. Soon, they released their first full album,"For Madmen Only". During this time, the band toured with such artists as Dio [ [ Concert review from Dio tour] ] and King's X. The band's video for "Justice" was played approximately 20 times on MTV. [ Band history on Atomic Opera website] ]

Often compared with King's X (who was also managed and produced by Taylor) or the Galactic Cowboys, Atomic Opera forged their own path with poetic lyrics, varied instruments, and strong Christian influences.cite book |last=Powell |first=Mark Allan |title=Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music |year=2002 |publisher=Hendrickson Publishers |location=Peabody, Massachusetts |isbn=1-56563-679-1 |edition=First printing |pages=54-55] Unlike some of their contemporaries, the band did little to hide its faith in its lyrics, but in some ways avoided the stereotypes of Christian rock, as most songs focused on challenging the norms of Christianity and on the relationship between God and man. The band was also vocal about their dislike of the Christian music industry.

The band's label Collision Arts ceased operations, and Atomic Opera found itself without a home, and released their next two albums without a supporting label. After struggling to gain mainstream popularity, the band broke up in 1995 and parted ways with Taylor. Hart continued to write music and decided to release a follow up album in 1997 under the Atomic Opera name called "Penguin Dust", recruiting former drummer Mark Poindexter and multi-instrumentalist Kemper Crabb to assist; this album was released directly by Hart and shopped to various independent outlets.

Due to the strength of "Penguin Dust", Metal Blade Records quickly signed the band to a long term deal. Crabb became a full time member, with longtime Hart friends John Simmons and Ryan Birsinger also rounding out the lineup. While working on new material, Hart compiled the album "Alpha and Oranges", a collection of unreleased demos originally from the "For Madmen Only" lineup, and released this independently as well. In 2000, the band released "Gospel Cola" on Metal Blade with its new lineup; the album garnered some positive notice in both Christian and mainstream music outlets.cite news |first=Leslie |last=Follmar |title=Atomic Opera offers CD refreshment |url= |publisher=Daily Toreador |date=2000-11-27 |accessdate=2007-03-31]

Since that time, the band have endured a lot of setbacks (such as a flooded recording studio) and pursued various side projects (such as raising families, session work, multimedia projects, and managing Hart's label Feverdream Records). After adding Trip Wamsley to the lineup in 2004, and parting ways with Metal Blade, the band are currently working on finishing their next recording, "The Mystery of Hope".

Band members

* Frank Hart - vocals, electric guitar, cello, bass
* Kemper Crabb - vocals, mandolin, recorder, dulcimer, harmonica (on "Penguin Dust" and "Gospel Cola")
* Ryan Birsinger - bass, Chapman Stick, vocals (on "Gospel Cola")
* Trip Wamsley - bass (joined after release of "Gospel Cola")
* John Simmons - drums, vocals (on "Gospel Cola")
* Mark Poindexter - drums (on "For Madmen Only", "Alpha and Oranges", and "Penguin Dust")
* Jonas Velasco - bass, vocals (on "For Madmen Only" and "Alpha and Oranges")
* Jonathan Marshall - electric guitar, vocals (on "For Madmen Only" and "Alpha and Oranges")
* Len Sonnier - bass, vocals (on "Alpha and Oranges")

Frank Hart

Frank has produced and mastered several albums over the years. He has also done commercial multimedia work. In 2005, he released his first solo album, "Human Liturgy", on his FeverDream Records label. He is currently the worship leader at Crosspoint Community Church , a Katy, Texas church.

Kemper Crabb

Kemper is an icon in the Christian music community. His most notable efforts included the bands Radiohalo and Arkangel. He was also briefly a member of Caedmon's Call before joining the Atomic Opera lineup.

Kemper is a native Texan who was raised in San Antonio and currently resides in the Houston area with his wife Shanna. He is a proud father of one and a grandfather of three beautiful grandchildren. He has also nurtured many spiritual children with whom he has shared his wisdom and insight. He has been a member of bands such as ArkAngel, RadioHalo and, for a short while, Caedmon¹s Call. His 1982 solo album The Vigil is still a sensation amongst those in the know. It is an album inspired by battle preparation rituals for knights during the Middle Ages and is a favorite for musicians such as Kerry Livgren (Kansas) and Rick Wakeman (Yes). In fact, Stevie Ray Vaughn during his appearance on MTV Unplugged disclosed that The Vigil was his favorite album. More recently in 1995 Kemper recorded A Medieval Christmas, a collection of medieval Christmas songs and hymns. The popularity of this album has spawned many invitations for Kemper and his friends to perform Christmas concerts. Currently he is a member of the band Atomic Opera (Gospel Cola) and works on solo projects as well. He travels widely across Europe, Asia and America to perform.

Not only has Kemper dedicated his life to the pursuit of God's glory through his music he also heeds the call to teach God's word to the flock. In a style reminiscent of ages past Kemper teaches with conviction and intensity, and he refuses to tickle ears. He is one of a rare breed of teachers whose teachings are uncompromising and thoroughly biblical. Whether he is talking about the Church, apologetics or expounding on a book of the Bible, Kemper's teachings are sure never to waste your time.

Kemper was ordained to the priesthood in the Reformed Episcopal Church and is currently is a priest in the Community of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC). He helped pastor Christ Church in Houston with the likes of George Grant for several years. Though he is ordained in the CEEC, consistent with his belief that the Church is catholic he lends his talents to whatever local community of believers is in need of a teacher and musician. He currently lends his support to St. John the Divine Episcopal Church (ECUSA) which is located in the heart of Houston, TX. He leads the worship music at the eleven o'clock contemporary service and teaches a Wednesday night Bible Study.

Kemper is an artist-priest whose demeanor is warm and engaging; his presence sage-like, his teaching profound, his love of God and the Church staggering; and his dedication to the aesthetic life zealous. He is truly an extraordinary man, and those whose lives are touched by his will never be the same.

Retrieved from ""


*"For Madmen Only" (1994)
*"Penguin Dust" (1997, Review: " [ Cross Rhythms] "cite journal |last=Figgis |first=Alex |year=1998 |month=August |title=Atomic Opera - "Penguin Dust" |journal=Cross Rhythms |issue=46 |pages= |accessdate=] )
*"Alpha and Oranges" (1999, Reviews: [ "The Phantom Tollbooth"] , " [ HM Magazine] "cite journal |last=Van Pelt |first=Doug |year=1999 |month=May/June |title=Indie Album Reviews: ATOMIC OPERA |journal=HM Magazine |id=ISSN|1066-6923 |issue=77 |pages= |accessdate=] , " [ Cross Rhythms] "cite journal |last=Figgis |first=Alex |year=1999 |month=June |title=Atomic Opera - "Alpha & Oranges" |journal=Cross Rhythms |issue=51 |pages= |accessdate=] )
*"Gospel Cola" (2000, Review: [ "The Phantom Tollbooth"] )
*"The Mystery of Hope" (pending)


Further reading

* |issue=84 |pages= |accessdate=2007-04-24 |url=

External links

* [ Official website]
* [] - Hart's record label
* []
* [] - Simmons' web site
* [ Crabb's web site]
*allmusicguide | id=11:gxfixqe5ldde | label=Atomic Opera

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