Catching up with Tucker Riggleman


The Demon Beat (Jordan Hudkins, Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman) backstage at the Ottobar in Baltimore 2.20.

In advance of their show Thursday night at Shamrock’s Irish Pub in Huntington, we caught up with Demon Beat bassist Tucker Riggleman for Huntington Pulse, a print magazine out of Huntington whose sales benefit homeless charities. Riggleman gives the scoop on what’s been up with the band and what he’s looking forward to in 2011...

WVRockscene: How did the NYE show at the V Club go?
Riggleman: That show was pretty incredible. We rarely get to play with The Fox Hunt anymore, which is a shame because those guys are some of our best friends, so it was awesome to see them play again. The turnout was really crazy. We were all pretty stoked on it, and we were really excited about releasing our new album to such a receptive crowd.

Rockscene: What’s been the response to 1956? Friends, fans and reviews?
Riggleman: Personally, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about the response, just because it’s so different from our previous albums in so many ways; the way it was recorded, the pacing, the sounds, the concept, all were done differently than before. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response. Speaking from a record label standpoint, this has been the first time really that magazines and blogs have contacted me about wanting to review the album, which is a welcome change. Folks have been very flattering so far with their reviews, and I think people understand where we were coming from with the album, and more importantly understanding that this doesn’t mean we’ve “changed” our genre or direction necessarily, but that we are simply evolving as a band and wanted to try something new.

rockscene: 1956 isn’t so much of a departure from some previous Demon Beat material but compared to a lot of the brit or more pop-oriented type rock sound it is more bluesy and ambitious as a record. How would you characterize the band’s progression from Heavy Nasty through 1956 and into 2011?
Riggleman: As far as the progression from HEAVYNASTY, I’d say the most obvious change is that we’re all better musicians, and more importantly that we have learned how to write and play together more effectively as a band.

We also listen to a lot of different stuff these days. We’ve gone through soul phases and punk rock phases and everything in between, and I think the fact that we all three listen to different things and talk about music constantly has helped us experiment with new sounds and ideas to really find our own “sound” if you will.

We’re very proud of 1956 and what we were able to accomplish with that album. The next full-length is already nearing completion, and I think it will be our most representative album to date. We’re very excited for people to hear it.

rockscene: You played SXSW last year; did you not get booked for 2011?
Riggleman: We were never on the “official” SXSW. Most bands are not on the official festival, but the unofficial shows are much greater in number and more times than not they are the best shows. Last year we had two shows booked and ended up playing every day, and this year we already have two more shows booked and plan to play as much as possible. I’m also excited because last year we only did two shows on the way to Texas and this year we’ve got a weeklong tour taking us down there to break up the drive. We’re getting to play a lot of new cities like Charleston (SC), Houston (TX), Shreveport (LA).

rockscene: You have the Big Bullet Records festival out in Shepherdstown in a few months, right? How cool is that going to be and what made you want to do that?
Riggleman: Yeah man, that little festival is going to be so much fun. It’s going to center around our new free compilation, TERMINAL BALLISTICS Vol. 2, and is basically an excuse for me to get all of my friends bands to come down and play to a bunch of people and have a great time. We always talk about family with BBR, and this will basically be our version of a family reunion. It just might be a bit more drunk than normal reunions.

But yeah, it takes place April 21-23 in Shepherdstown, WV. The first and last nights will take place at The Blue Moon Saloon, and the second night will feature the bulk of the festival’s artists performing at this old church in town that hosts shows. It’s a really killer space and there have been some amazing shows there. We are really excited to be headlining the second night, which will also be the release show for our new split cassette with our friends The Shackeltons which will be out on Antler Tapes, an awesome little cassette label out of Pennsylvania.

rockscene: What is the scoop for 2011 for you guys? Obviously you and Adam do Prison Book Club, and there’s a Jude Universer release right? New Demon Beat CD? Excited about any touring or appearances? Playing with Mike Watt, obviously; what was the band’s response to hearing that?
Riggleman: By this summer we will have put out two full-lengths and a split cassette in six months. The cassette comes out in April during the BBR Fest, and our new full-length will be out tentatively in July. We did the basic tracking for that album during our November tour, and the initial mixes are almost finished. Adam will be finishing the mixes in NYC with Chris Abell who worked on Shit, We’re 23, and then we'll be getting it mastered again by Justin Francis in Nashville. Mark my words, this WILL come out on vinyl, even if I have to go a month without eating to pay for it. The new album isn’t a concept piece like 1956 or anything, rather it’s more of a traditional album if you will. We’re very excited about the songs and the sounds that we were able to get. Jordan’s drums sound pretty epic on it.

As for the Mike Watt show, we are ridiculously honored to have the opportunity to play with someone so influential. It’s like having the pretty girl ask you to go to the dance.

rockscene: Looking forward to playing Shamrock’s with Arcane Rifles Thursday night?
Riggleman: I just want to point out how much we love J Marinelli. I played a solo show with him down here in Charles Town, WV a couple years ago and have the privilege of hanging out with him for the night and picking his brain about music. The guy is like a living punk rock encyclopedia, and he’s one of the nicest, most genuine dudes ever. We are really excited to do a run of shows with his new band, because of course they sound badass too. If you haven’t yet, people need to go buy J’s new record on vinyl. It’s amazing, and he’s one of the most important musicians to come out of West Virginia in my opinion.

rockscene: You’ve played Huntington a bunch; whether it’s the V Club or Shamrock’s how have you been received?
Riggleman: We absolutely love Huntington and everyone there. It continually blows my mind to see the turnouts at our shows and the enthusiasm that people bring. In November we played a Tuesday show there which I expected nobody to really be at since it was a weekday and all, and the turnout was still pretty awesome. It’s so great to have places like Huntington, especially it being in our home state and all. Nothing but love.

rockscene: What are the goals and/or expectations of the band? Success is such a relative term and is of course fickle in the music industry; how do you feel about the band after being together for roughly five years?
Riggleman: I feel really great about what we’ve accomplished, and I think as far as “expectations” go, that we just want to keep writing and playing together and touring and meeting people and making friends. That’s really what it’s about. We don’t owe anything to anyone really, we’ve done the work and put in our time and that’s always a good feeling. To know that you've really earned what you’ve got out of it. We just want to stay true to ourselves and keep writing and recording and touring. So long as we keep doing that and having fun and aren't completely broke, I’d say we'll keep going.

The Demon Beat plays Shamrock's Thursday night with Lexington's Arcane Rifles and Universes.

photo: Chris Moore

Related (2010) -- CD Review: 1956; Side project sends Demon Beat, Fox Hunt members to Prison (Charleston Gazette); One Big Bullet after another: Q&A w/Tucker Riggleman; Rising stars: Retro rock trio makes stop at Huntington’s V Club (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)

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