When Monsters from Mars play their cover of Britney Spears's "Toxic," that spacey-sounding instrument is a theremin, an electronic musical device popularized in the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
"It sure is a head turner," says operator (and bassist) Scott Jones. "Ours is homemade, like a lot of our DIY equipment. We try not to overuse it by just making flying-saucer noise with it. We run it through a delay pedal to give a thick psychedelic sound for certain parts, and we actually play melodies with it in songs like the Britney cover."
The band's version of "Toxic" is included on their seven-inch vinyl Surfing through a Creepy Castle record.
"It gets requested every gig, and not everyone realizes it's a Britney song," says Jones. "We joke that she's probably getting two-cent royalty checks and saying 'what the hell.' Someday, we'd love to be her backing band and play it, which by the looks of her career could become a reality."