In 1991, Spider dropped out of art school, bought a cheap 4-track home studio and drum machine and recorded Much Evil with producer Lamar Lowder. Building on local success, Powerman 5000 was born. In 1992 drummer Al Pahanish Jr., bassist Dorian Heartsong and guitarist Adam 12 joined the band, and in 1993, percussionist Jordan Cohen joined solidifying the early lineup. In 1994 and 1995, Powerman released two independent records, True Force and The Blood-Splat Rating System. Both albums were local successes. In 1996, they performed on the second stage of Ozzfest and appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 where David and Donna filmed a music video for their song "Strike the Match".
In 1996, the band signed to DreamWorks Records and released a remastered edition of The Blood-Splat Rating System titled Mega!! Kung Fu Radio. The band toured, performing on the second stage at Ozzfest 1997 but have not appeared since. They released singles such as "Organizized" and "Tokyo Vigilante #1". In 1999, guitarist M.33 (Mike Tempesta) joined the band as they got their biggest break. Creating a strange fusion of science fiction and "Action Rock", they released Tonight the Stars Revolt!, produced by Sylvia Massy, which contained the hit singles "When Worlds Collide", "Nobody's Real", and "Supernova Goes Pop". The album sold over a million copies.
A follow-up album to Tonight the Stars Revolt! was released titled Anyone for Doomsday?. The album was recorded and a single, "Bombshell", had been released to radio stations. But the album was canceled just before its scheduled release. Anyone for Doomsday? was later released under Spider's own new label, Megatronic Records, but went out of print due to legal issues. Arguments exist as to whether the record was canceled due to the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the negative title, but the album was finished and scheduled to be released in August 2001, one full month before the attacks. Spider has said in interviews that the album was dropped because it sounded too much like the previous album and that he wanted to release something fresh and different instead of repeating himself. Conflicts thereafter caused longtime members Dorian 27 (Dorian Heartsong) and AL3 (Allan Pahanish Jr) to leave the band. Ad7 (Adrian Ost) and Siggy Sjursen were brought in to replace them.
One of the greatest mainstream exposures to the band came from their original remake of the 1980s club hit "Relax" and featuring a rapper DannyBoy was featured in the music video, originally by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The recrafted version was featured prominently during the end credits roll for the 2001 comedy film Zoolander, and helped spread the band's appeal.
In 2003, the band released Transform, a more punk-fueled album, completely dropping the costumes that had been featured throughout the band's Tonight The Stars Revolt! era. Containing the hit singles "Free" and "Action", Transform relied less on industrial metal effects. After the album's release, DreamWorks Records was bought out by Interscope Records, and had stopped promoting the band in the middle of a tour and would not explain the surroundings of what was going on, Powerman 5000 was not asked to make the move to Interscope. Undeterred, Spider continued with his own offshoot label, Megatronic Records. In 2005, new music was released, under Spider's new label, in the form of a rarities album titled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Vol. 1. In August 2005, Powerman 5000 performed at the sixth annual Gathering of the Juggalos on the main stage.
A new tour was also started, but M.33 had been kicked out of the band for starting fights and Adam 12, while present on the album, left the band on good terms to focus on other interests. Former Alien Ant Farm guitarist Terry Corso and former Halfcocked, (the first band on Spider's label), guitarist Johnny Rock Heatley were brought in to round out the live show. The band then signed to DRT Entertainment, who released the album entitled Destroy What You Enjoy on August 1, 2006. The song "Wild World" was the first single on the album. The band also filmed a music video for the single "Wild World".
In 2007, Evan Rodaniche, singer and guitarist of Los Angeles band Cage9 (originally from Panama City, Panama), joined the band through his acquaintance with Adrian Ost. He toured as the band's sole guitarist until later that year, when Dave Pino was added to the mix. Pino had just moved to Los Angeles and heard about the open slot through his friendship with Piggy D (bassist for Rob Zombie). Upon the departure of Siggy from the band in 2008, Gustavo Aued was brought in to replace him on bass, and later that year, drummer Gordon Heckaman joined the band (both originally from Cage9 as well), solidifying the lineup for the next album.
On May 21, 2007, Powerman 5000 claimed via a Myspace blog post that they will be releasing a new studio album in 2007. The following is taken directly from said post: "Considering the bands track record of putting out CDs once every three years it seems hard to believe that, yes we will put out a new disc in 2007!! It's all just beginning to develop and the wheres, whos and whats are to be determined but new rock is on the way!!" However, talk about the record soon simmered, and no new information was released.
Finally, in December 2008, the new track "Super Villain" premiered on the band's Myspace page, showcasing their return to their platinum-selling sound of the late 1990s. On January 28, 2009, a preview of tracks from their upcoming sixth studio album were posted on the group's Myspace page, containing clips from the songs "Super Villain", "V Is for Vampire", and "Horror Show". Powerman 5000 posted that "Super Villain" would become available for digital purchase on February 10, 2009 on iTunes and Amazon.com.
On April 7, 2009, Powerman 5000 released a blog on their Myspace page stating that Anyone for Doomsday? has officially been re-released. The legal battle ended and the album was released under the SKG Music License. The album is available on iTunes as a digital download. On April 21, 2009, the band released "V Is for Vampire", the second single from their album, which is planned for a summer release.
On July 7, 2009, Powerman 5000 released a blog on their Myspace page stating that the new album has been finished, and that a release date, track listing, artwork, and additional tour dates was coming soon. On July 27, 2009, Powerman 5000 appeared on Rockline, announcing the title of the new album as Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere. A tentative release date of October 6, 2009 was also announced. Three new songs were also premiered on the show, including "Timebomb, Baby", "Make Us Insane", and "Show Me What You've Got". On Myspace, Spider posted a blog talking about the three new songs filled with comments of the fans liking the music.
On September 6, 2009, Powerman 5000 released the album cover design along with the promotion of their tour starting on October 24, 2009. They also released two new promotional videos on YouTube for their new album, confirming its release date as October 6, 2009.
On October 1, 2009, the full track "Do Your Thing" was leaked onto YouTube. The song was apparently taken from the Megatronic Records Forum, which frontman Spider One currently owns. The CD Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere was officially released on October 6, 2009 in the U.S. and was available in Canada on October 20, 2009, two weeks after the reported release date.
The band embarked on a national tour during October and November in support of the album.
On December 7, 2009, Spider, the band's lead singer posted links on his Twitter page linking to FearNET.com which is hosting the band's music video for their first single "Super Villain". The video is also available on YouTube and stars Johnathon Schaech as the infamous Super Villain.
Throughout 2010, Powerman 5000 continued to support their new album with various tours between March and November.
Powerman 5000 played at the U-Fest in Phoenix, Arizona on April 23, 2011 playing alongside Accept, Papa Roach, Drowning Pool, Nonpoint, All That Remains and Hollywood Undead. This was the band's third consecutive appearance at the yearly show.
The band announced on May 23, 2011 that they had started work on a new album. On July 24, 2011, Powerman 5000 released a cover of Devo's "Whip It", a cover of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie on July 28, 2011 and a cover of Van Halen's "Jump" on July 31, 2011 on their website, all from their now released album, Copies, Clones & Replicants. On July 11, 2012, Spider posted on his Twitter that "Someone sneaked a camera in the studio tonight and filmed the speaker while it blasted a new Powerman 5000 tune!". The video was posted on the band's Facebook page, as well as another clip on July 21, 2012. These clips confirmed the band is working on a new album.
Released by indie label Cleopatra Records, Copies, Clones & Replicants included covers of other new wave songs such as The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" and Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue". The group played all of the tunes in their trademark industrial metal style. The group also added A cover of The Church's "Under the Milky Way" at the tail end of the album.
Furthermore, throughout their 2012 tour, the band has added a new song to their setlist "How to Be a Human". It has been confirmed since that this song will be on their new album.
Announced on the band's official website on February 1, 2013 that the recording for the next studio album has begun, On the new songs, Spider says, "We are taking off where 'Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere' left off. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel this time. Just trying to make the wheel bigger and louder!".
Bassist, Murv Douglas, who is not only known for his extreme talent on the bass and huge afro, but also for his signature high jumps and animated stage presence, steps in to tour with PM5K from time to time.
Their newest album, Builders of the Future, released on May 27, 2014. The band was set to play a co-headlining tour in the US with Wayne Static in November with American Head Charge supporting them until Wayne's death in November 2014.
On May 15, 2016, the band announced that they plan to release new music before the end of that year.
Spider One often uses spoken word or chanting in his vocalization. AllMusic's Chris Slawecki said that "Spider doesn't sing one single lyric, instead barking out the lyrics in a hard staccato delivery." The band's lyrics are often campy and make reference to pulp science fiction. These themes include gods and monsters, global annihilation and robot violence, as well as anti-consumerism.
Powerman 5000's music is driven by staccato guitar playing and electronic samples. This style has been compared to the music of Rob Zombie, Spider One's older brother. This style has primarily been described as industrial metal.
The band's early album Mega!! Kung Fu Radio featured a different style from the one which the band is generally known for; this album incorporated elements of heavy metal, hard rock and funk. Transform featured more emphasis on melody and human-driven sounds, shifting away from the computerized sounds of the band's earlier albums. Destroy What You Enjoy featured a punk-driven sound.
Various Powerman 5000 songs have been used in media, including television film soundtracks, and video games. This includes such game titles as FreQuency, Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder, NASCAR Thunder 2004, SX Superstar, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, the Twisted Metal series, Shadow The Hedgehog, NHL Hitz 2003, WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and WWE Wrestlemania 21, along with the racing game, Baja 1000; Score International. Film soundtracks such as Dracula 2000, Evolution, Blade II: Bloodhunt, Freddy vs. Jason, Titan AE, Little Nicky, Mission: Impossible 2, Zoolander and Spawn have all featured the work of Powerman 5000. The song "Bombshell" was also used extensively as the entrance music for the WWE tag team The Dudley Boyz. The game WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW featured three new songs from the band. Spider hoped the songs would gain popularity from the game alone, seeing the success of music through video games.Excess Baggage – "Earth vs. Me" (1997)
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation — "Automatic" (1997)
Spawn – "When Worlds Collide" (1997)
Bride of Chucky – "The Son of X-51" (1998)
Dead Man on Campus – "Organizized" (1998)
New Girl – "Solid" (1998)
End Of Days – "Nobody's Real" (1999)
Universal Soldier: The Return – "Supernova Goes Pop" (1999)
Dracula 2000 – "Ultra Mega" (2000)
Little Nicky – "When Worlds Collide" (2000)
Scream 3 – "Get On, Get Off" (2000)
Titan AE – "The End is Over" (2000)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 – "When Worlds Collide" (2000)
Evolution – "Bombshell" (2001)
Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder – "Bombshell" (2001)
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec – "Supernova Goes Pop" (2001)
Zoolander – "Relax" (2001)
Marvel's Blade II: Bloodhunt – "Tonight The Stars Revolt!" (2002)
Freddy vs. Jason – "Bombshell" (2003)
NHL Hitz 2003 – "Bombshell" (2003)
Jailbait – "Good Times Roll" (2004)
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw – "Riot Time", "That's the Way It Is", "Last Night on Earth" and "When Worlds Collide" (2004)
NASCAR Thunder 2004 – "Action" (2004)
Alone In The Dark – "The End Of Everything" (2005)
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis – "The Way It Is", "Heroes and Villains" and "The Last Night On Earth" (2005)
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave – "Where We Belong Tonight", "Give Me Something I Need" and "Almost Dead" (2005)
Mission: Impossible II – "When Worlds Collide" (2000)
MX vs. ATV Unleashed – "Heroes and Villains" (2005)
Shadow The Hedgehog – "Almost Dead" (2005)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD – "When Worlds Collide" (2012)
The Blood-Splat Rating System (1995)
Tonight the Stars Revolt! (1999)
Anyone for Doomsday? (2001)
Destroy What You Enjoy (2006)
Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere (2009)
Copies Clones & Replicants (2011)
Builders of the Future (2014)