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Art mechanic supreme

Heís the keytar-strapped half of the synth-pop duo Cassette. He books "Electrosocial," a biweekly indie dance night at Central Squareís ZuZu, and spins dance-punk records under the pseudonym DJ MicL PTVN. He messes with samplers and keyboards for an electro-dance-rock band, Lovewhip, and makes stickers of mustachioed Italian producer/electronica cult hero Giorgio Moroder. And when heís not fussing with his drum machine, Michael Potvin is brazing together road bicycles out of trash-picked parts. "I guess I have a crazy work ethic," says the twentysomething native Vermonter over lunch at the Middle East restaurant. "I just keep myself busy ó impossibly."

Dressed in rolled-up black pants, orange socks stretched almost to his knees, and with two wristfuls of plastic bracelets, the dimpled-chin Boston University grad later gave a grand tour of the homemade bicycles that litter his two-bedroom Central Square apartment. In one corner is a beach-cruiser model rigged with iPod-ready speakers; in another is a banana-seated low-rider called Long Dong, named for its spindly handlebars salvaged from a junk-pile NordicTrack. Downstairs in the basement ó among countless heaps of tires, chain stays, and greasy bolts ó sits a half-built bike with a wooden kitchen chair for a seat. "We want to have the ass interface be really comfortable," explains Potvin, pointing out the chariot-like fixture. Stepping between wheels and handlebars, he sighs, "I was going to clean up, but this is part of the charm."

Potvin and his roommate Nick have been building road bikes and homegrown choppers for a couple of years. Last year, they even sold a handful for between $80 to $300. In the future, theyíll be experimenting with more ingenious designs, like a gasoline-powered bicycle and cargo-carrying rider that could transport Potvinís DJ equipment to gigs. Potvinís still in the "research" part of the production on these; heíll probably remain so until Nick returns, since he works best in pairs. "Working in duos is so much better than working solo," he says. "It helps to have someone to motivate me ó thatís why I like music so much."

And music is what consumes the rest of Potvinís time. Although heís worked "a multitude of shitty jobs" since his 2002 college graduation, including stints at a liquor store, a "shady" Allston inn, and a temp agency, Potvin insists, "I canít really hold a 40-hour-a-week job because Iím too crazy, too, like, lunatic." (He also spent time at a bike shop, which wasnít ideal because it sold mainly mountain bikes: "The problem is usually the stupid people who ride them.") For now, he pays the rent mostly with the money he earns performing with Lovewhip, a road-warrior band that plays three or four nights a week around New England, and has a summer Saturday-afternoon residency at Old Orchard Beachís The Pier. But it hasnít been easy, Potvin admits, grabbing his lunch companionís leftover bag of pita-bread slivers to take home. "I gotta be resourceful to maintain this DIY lifestyle."

Cassette perform at the Abbey Lounge, 3 Beacon Street, in Somerville next Thursday, June 30 with U.V. Protection, Nice & Easy, and the Texas Governor. Call 617.441.9631. Visit www.ptvn.net.

Issue Date: June 24 - 30, 2005
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