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Don't let the name fool you. Shiny Toy Guns are not playthings. Just recently, rapper Snoop Dogg's street smarts couldn't help him thwart a palpable hit delivered by the Los Angeles-based foursome. Both the hip-hop megastar and pretty-boy rockers Maroon 5 were unseated in an online MTV video contest in which the Shinys' latest emo-lectric gem, "You Are the One," emerged victorious by an inexplicable margin. It was enough to warrant a call to the band from a baffled Maroon 5 producer.

The win also demonstrated the power of a devoted online community that the band equates to the unwavering Spartans.

Behind the Thunderdome facade and asymmetrical hairdos, the Shinys are about two very simple things: the fans and the music. Synth-man and programmer for the band, Jeremy Dawson, shared his thoughts with Style on those things in a phone interview from London, where the band is touring and about to play the revered music festival in Reading:

"We believe that music is a stimulant to two main senses -- the eyes and the ears — so we also travel with a lighting designer and a pretty high-tech rig. Because you don't say to your friend, 'Hey man, let's go hear a concert tonight,' … you say 'see.'

"If you just wanted to hear the music loudly, you could just go play the CD on a huge sound system. Instead of getting up there and just performing, we really, really focus on making everything the best that we can visually. The way to do that is to have a unique, creative display of lighting that makes an artistic point in addition to just playing the music."

The Shinys will pull out an arsenal of danceable hits from their smash disc "We Are Pilots," including the sexy "Le Disko" and possibly a cover of the lesser-known Depeche Mode cut, "Stripped," during their Richmond debut Aug. 2 at Toad's Place. S

Shiny Toy Guns play Toad's Place Thursday, Aug. 2. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. Call 648-TOAD or visit www.toadsplacerva.com.

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