The three band members call it techno pop. Using technology to produce a big, orchestrated sound. Mixing synthesizers and drum machines to create the effect of a five-piece group.

And that's what Growing Up Different will be doing Friday night at the 9:30 club.

At one time part of the local rock band Face Dancer ("Red Shoes," Capitol Records), the trio decided two years ago to move beyond the sledgehammer approach of heavy metal to a computerized, cleaner sound that people would enjoy dancing to.

"Our music hits you in the chest rather than in the ears," says keyboard player David Long. "We want people to hear the beat and the words and then dance."

The band's name reflects essentially who they are. "It is about the fact that everyone grew up in different social stratas with different experiences," says Long, "but it is not necessarily a thing that prevents people from relating to each other."

Relationships between people and the trio's own middle-class background are inspiration for lead singer Scott McGinn's lyrics. "Our songs deal with loneliness, losing, being beaten, but there is also irony and humor there," he says. As in the song "Life on the Moon," in which a man fails on Earth -- "Hey, I know what you're thinkin', maybe I'm crazy or drinking too much. I got a thermos full of whiskey and a suitcase full of bad luck" -- so he might as well try the moon.

The group's sound is not complex, but the $80,000 worth of equipment used to back it up is.

"We have two drum machines," says percussionist Billy Trainor, "that allow us to play without a physical drummer. This gives us flexibility, because there are less egos involved." A digital sampling keyboard enables them to add environmental sounds, like "dropping a box full of glass," to the music.

Trainor designs the stage setup, a combination of screens, silhouettes and lighting, which provides a theatrical effect and makes the band appear larger than it is. "The screens provide a framing for us," says McGinn, "and we look like the bands that appeared on TV prior to videos."

The band is currently working on both a video and a record. The album, "A + B = C," will be released on CES Records sometime in May.

The members of Growing Up Different consider themselves a mid-East Coast band, performing in Pennsylvania and Delaware as well as in Baltimore and D.C. They make their living playing at colleges and bars, and would like eventually to get a step above the nightclub circuit.

"We are in competition with a $5,000 video system, because it is easier and more profitable for a club to have video-disco than to have a band," McGinn says.

Their frustration with the local band scene has prompted Long to install a Growing Up Different action line (301/574-6557), a 24-hour message service that provides the public with information on where they will be playing. "I wanted to make it interesting," he says, "so it is a one-minute show in the form of a soap opera that changes each week."

Like many struggling local talents, Growing Up Different would eventually like to be in a position where, says McGinn, "we can afford our imaginations."