The Demon Beat – Teenage Wasteland from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.
It would come as no surprise to their fans, and the band itself might try to downplay it, but The Demon Beat looks like they’re about to “break through” and/or literally explode. And we are talking weeks, not months, here people.
Well, that’s just judging from the positive press and praise from people who’ve heard songs off their upcoming release Less Is Less, or seen the band’s video for “Teenage Wasteland,” ably and awesomely done by Geoff Hoskinson.
As we’ve all followed Adam, Tucker and Jordan over the past, what four or five years solid, (always will remember pulling Heavy Nasty out of the envelope, never having heard of the band, thinking 'What the hell?') sure, they’ve received nods and thumbs up and various positive shaking of other body parts from “the press” and big outlets of other mediums. But now you almost have to keep up with what outlet is rockin’ ‘em out or singing their praises.
Impose Magazine premiered the “Teenage Wasteland” video, and the band was named (quite obviously, and rightly) by Paste Magazine as one of 10 West Virginia bands to check out. And Paste and Impose aren’t the only ones.
Less Is Less -- due out around the end of September on Funny/Not Funny, and available for pre-order now -- may be the record that sees the band take that next step, whatever that is. It’s just always been interesting to think about what bands get popular or put on and some bands that may rock as hard or harder, don’t. (hint: family members in the record industry?)
How many times have we thought to ourselves here we’d rather see The Demon Beat on Saturday Night Live than whatever silliness they’ve got booked half the time? More than once.
As much of a badass rocker as Meisterhans may be, as far as plans may or may not have been drawn up to kidnap Hudkins to have Rozwell Kid play the WVRockscene home office, it’s been great to see Tucker Riggleman (as the other dudes handle recording/art) handle the band’s PR front, in addition to setting up Big Bullet Records, in such a professional, thorough manner.
There was talk recently on Facebook about the perceived need to have some sort of a workshop where local music beat writers and aspiring musicians get together to discuss the do’s and don’t’s’s of approaching press types, taking a business writing class, and whatever else. Any such workshop would be very well served to host Riggleman.
He’s handled that end of things for the band. But all this positive coverage isn’t or doesn’t seem like hype. It’s people catching on after so much awesomeness from the band. The Demon Beat is a great example of a band doing things the right way, D.I.Y., worrying about rock and roll and not “breaking through,” “blowing up,” or much less approaching press types.
Pretty much exactly seven years after at a Hurricane Katrina benefit show at Shepherd teamed Tucker up with Adam and Jordan, The Demon Beat may or may not have big, rich, famous things in their future. But they’ve at least done this: remind people what’s great about rock and roll.
Christopher Lusher has been busy bringing outsider artists indoors out Huntington way, booking art shows at Blank Gallery and exposing area artist’s work to a wider, real world audience. Lusher and friends do it again this Saturday with “Easy Does It,” showcasing art for a good cause.
If you missed our Herald-Dispatch interview with Huntington artist and all-around D.I.Y. dude Christopher Lusher, stop reading this right now, go check that out, and come back.
Alright, good. Now you’re up to speed. We had such a good time talking with Lusher for his “It Is What It Is” show at Blank Gallery, we thought we’d catch up for this Saturday’s “Easy Does It” art show. Not only does it help benefit the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, it’s another chance for us to talk with the always entertaining, sometimes illuminating (he rightfully demurs on generic questions) but totally-punk-rock outsider artist…
WVRockscene: We talked last August for the H-D article on “It Is What It Is,” what’s been going on? Thought I did see you at a recent CVRG thing, still taking street pics?
Christopher Lusher: I don’t even know where to start with that. This has easily been the most insane year of my life. The highest highs and the lowest lows. Not that I’d trade it for anything but it has been a mind fuck to say the least. Things have gone down that I never would have imagined.
If you saw me in public you basically saw the human version of Bigfoot. I have some sort of predicament going in public anywhere. Not so sure why but I really can’t stand it. The staff of Black Sheep would say differently.
rockscene: You been havin’ any Beast Ice Challenges lately? Explain the details of the challenge itself, for those, say, who think they could compete, and just the fun that may have been had? These were at your place?
Lusher: Not so much. The challenge started quite by accident and ended in bloody violence. Well, there is only one real rule and that is six beers must be consumed by each contestant in the first hour and then after that its full on. It is however the quality of the drunk and not the quantity of the drink. Field sobriety tests are performed because we’re professionals.
Yeah, we did them here and they were a lot of fun for sure. With that said I don’t think I’m so excitable about embracing the idea of self abuse anymore and don’t really see these happening again. You had to be there, as they say.
rockscene: Just following your status updates on Facebook it seems like you’ve been staying busy. You brought Max Snow to Huntington earlier this year. How cool was that?
Lusher: That was honestly one of the highlights of this strange and scrappy life. Hands down. He had no obligation to come here at all but did so all on his own dime and asking for nothing. Max and I had this unspoken dialogue between us that made me feel a connection with him. He was just like an instant friend and was the nicest and most genuine guy I have met in a long time anywhere.
He brought his mother as well and don’t get me started on her: just an amazing spirit and so nice to be around. They treated everyone with nothing less than a pure sincerity and grace. It was truly a beautiful experience.
rockscene: Noticed on yer Hillbilly Magazine tumblr page you posted a photo of you titled “A New Leaf,” is that being literal?
Lusher: I’m usually not with my titles and I’m frankly sick of making them up. That one however I actually am. I had a show a few weeks ago with another artist I admire, Benjamin Hollingsworth, and then proceeded to basically have a nervous breakdown the evening after the show. My body and mind had had enough and just shut way down.
I found myself too much drowning my sorrows out. I’m not a one-night-bender and dry-out-for-a-week guy, I’m a drink-till-you-feel-like-shit and then drink-till-you-feel-worse and keep-drinking-till-you-feel-normal kind of guy. I’ll let you work out the logic in that. It doesn’t work anymore.
I’m not saying I’m straight edge. I’m having a glass of wine as I type this but I’m done with that. That hasn’t been going on for days or weeks but for years. I have a lot I want to do and workin’ half ass and turning into a swollen, piss stained mess isn’t on that list. It was a lot of fun but I’m 38 not 18.
rockscene: Between the various mediums you take with your art, from photography to painting to multi-media efforts, how have you been trending if you’d have to say you’re more into one or the other these days? Taking more pics? Excited about painting or putting something special together? Just getting a sense about your passion these days. Thought you’d been doing a kind of podcast?
Lusher: The photography thing has always been this constant and I still do it every single day. I don’t ever see that changing. Currently, I’ve been getting into sculpture and experimenting with different ideas of “painting.” Those are canvas using things such as berries, candy, grass and coffee to create these strokes and or imagery. Ha, well the radio thing was ummmm.. Lo-fi and NSFW? Not sure that radio deejay is on my list of great ideas but some people thought it was funny so I suppose that made it worth it.
“Untitled” by Christopher Lusher
rockscene: How frustrating and/or awesome is it putting these shows together and pulling them off?
Lusher: It’s pretty much an equal combo of both. With the group shows it’s a tad difficult due to the corralling of people and their work that needs to happen. However, it’s never, ever not been worth it. There have been bits of drama here and there but almost always for personal reasons and nothing approaching legitimate discourse. There is one instance however that did but that and the person involved isn’t worth the ink.
rockscene: When we talked for the H-D you mentioned the more casual atmosphere you hoped to create and foster, both for the artists, to get them out exposing their work to people, and to the people who come out, that it’s not a stuffy high-brow type atmosphere. How has the atmosphere been generally?
Lusher: It’s been exactly as it started out being. I’ve always been very staunch about never changing that. It’s a few rooms full of friends, family, and people who enjoy creativity and the end result. It is casual as it can be because it should be. As long as it exists it’s not gonna be anything else, atmosphere-wise, than what it started off as.
rockscene: Dealing with bands you hear stories about problems booking shows. What have you learned or started to maybe do differently as it relates to putting on these shows, dealing with artists and the public?
Lusher: Nothing. It’s been the same, again, as it has from the start. That’s been kind of the beauty of it all. I’ve never concerned myself too much with the public and what their specific desires or derision would or could be. It’s about the people involved that are showing their work and what their desires are.
rockscene: Talking about getting both the artist and a community of supportive friends etc. out to these shows, you book/arrange/promote these Blank Gallery shows on Facebook for the most part. Aside from the artists you interact with and the people who are supportive of your efforts online -- you pretty much HAVE to have a Facebook presence to promote a show just because everyone is on there -- have you grown to hate Facebook even more than you did in the past? Is it bittersweet having to use it? It’s our thought here that most social networking has kind of devolved or at the least it makes us hate the world in general...
Lusher: Well, it’s a necessary evil due to that exact thing. The invite process seems to work best through Fakebook since no one has the attention span to look at anything other than what appears on a fucking newsfeed now or a tweet.
My problem with social networking is how much of this shit do you really need? How much information is too much? Apparently, there can’t be too much. You have your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Pinterest, Tumblr and you have them all connected AND then you have your iPhone so you can let everyone know when you’re gonna eat and when you’re gonna shit. You can tweet at your buddy that you’re fucking SITTING with instead of any actual interaction.
If I see one more E-Card I’m gonna rip my eyes out from their sockets and eat them. I mean, I’m probably on the internet more than anyone but I’m trying to be proactive with it and do something positive. I’m no better than anyone else and this is just my opinion but try and put your fucking phone down for, gee I dunno, a whopping three minutes and see if you can handle it.
People spazz without that constant influx of pointless information these days. “I got my colon checked today. Here’s the video. Pryrz Plz.” Hashtag this and fucking that. Fuck your hashtags and your duckface Instagram photos. We know you’re cute and we don’t care. Keep your dinner plans to yourself. Try some human interaction like they did in the “old days.”
rockscene: You feature so many other artist’s works on Hillbilly Magazine -- it’s going to be tough and you have to be diplomatic, but who've been some of your favorite contributors or artists who make you happy you put these shows on, to show their work?
Lusher: This is gonna sound like some bullshit soundbite but all of them. Just the fact people are reaching out to me at all makes me thankful for them. I’m proud that it’s like this rolling online gallery that is full of this sort of weird-and-dysfunctional-but-loving-families’ work. I just want to watch it keep growing. To keep supporting talent through that.
rockscene: You’ve got this Easy Does It show lined up for Saturday, to help the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, how excited are you about the artists and that you could have this show benefit a good cause?
Lusher: I kinda went back and set up sort of an original lineup from the first shows. All of these guys are practically family now and when I think of BLANK I think of John Drake, Mike Adkins, Jimbo Valentine, Jason Lucas, Kelli Bellomy, Ana Gaston, Elizabeth Turner, and some newer faces too. It should be as good they get in my totally biased opinion.
This show is really inspiring in what the cause is for. The idea to be able to be a part of an event for children is an honor. I just need to think of my niece and nephew and how lucky they are to have family and then to think of the ones that don’t is all the reason needed.
EASY DOES IT
WHERE: Blank Gallery, 1102 3rd Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday 9/1
Photo: Will Foley
Hurricane native Mark Bates returns to West Virginia with his new record, “Night Songs,” and a new outlook on his own musical career. Bates performs at the Creekside Café in Hurricane Saturday night.
Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
There’s a great story behind the inspiration for “Lucinda,” one of the songs on Mark Bates’ recently released sophomore effort “Night Songs.”
There’s also a hilarious one.
Bates, the 24-year old Hurricane native and L.A. resident, returns to West Virginia for a show at the Creekside Café in Hurricane Saturday with his second record in tow, having fun playing music again.
Bates, like so many other aspiring musicians, went to Nashville a few years ago with big dreams that were crushed in short order. Despite releasing his solo debut, the Americana-heavy CD “Down The Narrow” in 2010, Bates didn’t realize his dreams as so many hope to.
“Really, the Nashville thing, I call it a constructive failure,” the singer-songwriter said over the phone. “It was great to come out and get beat around, you know?”
Bates returned to West Virginia and took a most unexpected career turn: he enrolled in the West Virginia State Police Academy as a cadet. After more than two months, and a call from L.A. about making music again, Bates drove off one fateful night.
“The night I quit the police academy, it was a Sunday night, and Lucinda Williams was playing Mountain Stage. My mother was there, and she’s a huge fan, and so am I. So I drove straight off the hill, which is what they call the academy up there, and met my mother at Mountain Stage.
“I’d never seen her live but always wanted to,” Bates said of Williams, who he lists as an influence, among Tom Petty, Springsteen, and Tom Waits. “So it was kind of a magical thing. I went home, and the next day I wrote that song.”
Hearing Bates sing “I’m in love with Lucinda,” over and over, the obvious question would be: ‘You got a thing for Lucinda Williams?’
“It’s really not about her at all to be honest,” he said with a big laugh. “She was kind of on my mind, and the syllables of her name just sounded good, and how they rolled was a nice fit. But her involvement with [“Night Songs” producer] Eric [Liljestrand] was the reason I met with him; he produced some records for her that I really liked.
“It’s pretty funny, Eric, when we recorded that song, he said ‘Just be sure when you talk to her, just tell her that song’s not about her. You don’t want to freak her out,’” he said laughing. “I’ve got to be careful because I’ll see her out from time to time and her husband’s usually with her.”
Bates actually did meet Williams at the release show for “Night Songs” out in L.A.
“She ended up coming to the release show, and I got to meet her, and she hung out and was great. She was super nice to my family, and I got to introduce her to my mom, which was the coolest thing.”
Comparing the response to his music in L.A. as opposed to Nashville, Bates said it was like night and day.
“Instantly it just felt better,” he said. “The reception to what I was doing was great. So I was able to get a decent little following, and find a niche for what I was doing. So it’s been great.”
Bates said despite the warm welcome in L.A., and critical praise for the new record, most musicians, these days, need to be D.I.Y and totally self-sufficient.
“It’s a pretty tough business, especially right now. With the deconstruction of the music industry, it’s been difficult to figure out which angles you should take. The response [to “Night Songs”] has been good, we haven’t had any bad reviews, and people seem to be enjoying it. It’s still early in the process; we’re still having reviews come in and we’re trying to talk to some industry people.
“At this point my favorite labels are kind of on the way out. My dream was to get on Lost Highway Records. My publicist Mike [Farley] was talking with them, and they’re pretty much done, and it’s sad. At this point there’s opportunity in the demise of the industry, you just have to do it on your own, and that’s what I’ve been trying learn to do these past few years. It’s possible but difficult.”
For Bates, raised on church music, a mutually reinforcing, symbiotic relationship exists between music and family.
“I’ve got a great family, and we’re very close, and that’s a constant thing and the way I was raised. The people that build you are really the ones that matter…It has more to do with them than it does with me.
“It’s always very important for me to extend gratitude in the liner notes to my nanna, and to my grandfather, who has recently passed away. He was a preacher in the church that I was raised in. I try to never take that for granted. They’re very important to me.”
Bates said having fun playing music again, coming back to West Virginia with a new record, is what it’s all about.
“I’m having fun playing music again, so I enjoy it wherever I am. I think the songs show I’m definitely homesick. I’m excited to get back.”
After saying he plans on moving back to the Mountain State later this year, Bates added he thinks he’s going to stick with the songwriting thing this time.
“I’m going to continue to play music and regardless of what I do. I’ll never quit again. I realize I’ve spent too much time and effort to make things happen.”
IF YOU GO:
Mark Bates w/Clark Paterson
Where: Creekside Café, 3380 Teays Valley Road, Hurricane
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Related: Mark Bates returns home for Live on the Levee, Empty Glass shows (June 2010 Gazz article)
Mark Bates: “Lucinda”
Byzantine (L-R: Chris Ojeda, Skip Cromer, Tony Rohrbough, Matt Wolfe) is back together with local shows and a new album due out in November.
Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
To hear the guys in Byzantine talk, you’d think they were just another local metal band with something to prove. Hearing them talk about their new record, having lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough back in the band after a three year absence, with a string of local shows lined up, Byzantine and their fans are rightly excited.
No local metal band has three major label releases and European tours under their belt. Since being birthed out of Chapmanville in 2000, four years removed from “Oblivion Beckons,” their last release, which, promptly upon release, fittingly enough saw the band go on indefinite hiatus, Byzantine has built and maintained a passionate fan base and achieved critical acclaim for their progressive, melodic version of metal.
Together for a rehearsal at Rohrbough’s house in Weston, you get the sense that thing are back to basics and Byzantine is making music on their terms. After a heart attack prompted Rohrbough’s move back to West Virginia from Charlotte, where he’d lived for three years, Byzantine was indeed back in business.
Rohrbough described the organic process of the band coming back from oblivion.
“We were all just chatting, sending emails and demos back and forth. Originally the thought was ‘Look, why don’t we get together casually whenever we want, throw some ideas out and see how it works?’”
Byzantine plays The Sound Factory in Charleston Friday night, and The V Club Saturday night, with a new, fan-funded, self-titled release in the can and slated for a November release.
“I don’t think it would’ve happened without him,” lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda said of getting Rohrbough back in the band. “Once we got Tony back in, it all flowed real easily. Of course, he and I started the band, and he’s a huge, integral part of the sound. I knew without him it wouldn’t be the same.
“It didn’t feel like we jumped back on the bicycle, because it was all new stuff we hadn’t played before, so it was hard,” Ojeda said. “But you can’t tell listening to the album; it’s fantastic. Once we started playing the old stuff, like “Hatfield” and “Jeremiad,” then it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat.”
Drummer Matt Wolfe seconded that.
“It went a lot smoother than I thought it would after so long. But it’s a chemistry thing. If you put the four of us in a room, something’s going to happen musically. It’s been really cool to get back together and get some frustrations out playing some metal.”
“It’s still great, hearing what OJ and Tony write,” bassist Skip Cromer added. “I have the unique opportunity to hear it first, almost as an outsider. The fact that I get to play on it is even better. I’m still as pumped today to be jamming with these guys as I was in 2005. They keep me on my toes, to say the least.”
So one thing led to another. Demos led to rehearsals and that led to recording. One problem: recording budget, or lack thereof. Enter Byzantine’s fans, who pitched in with financial support via the band’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign.
“We were like ‘This is cool, let’s see if we can do an album,’” Rohrbough said. “So we started the Kickstarter page, to try to raise money, and it just blew up. So then it became something that wasn’t as casual. It was like ‘This is real, we need to get to work,’” he said, laughing hard.
Rohrbough, describing the nine songs on the new record, said he expects Byzantine’s fans to love them.
“It’s actually, in places, a lot more mellow and melodic, and in parts there are more blast beats, so you get more of the extremes. We really spent more time on the spit-and-polish on these songs, because we were sharing demos, we didn’t have a lot of time to get together.
“So the songs came out polished, and very, prog, you know? I’m gonna say prog,” he said with a laugh. “But there’s some extreme stuff and some very, very mellow stuff. We hit a larger gamut than we usually hit. The focus has kind of expanded.”
With a renewed energy and an expanded focus, Ojeda said one thing is back to normal in Byzantine: having fun playing metal.
“The last album we did, everything kind of felt wrong. We were all going different ways. We just wanted to get our music out and have fun,” Ojeda said, with added emphasis on the last two words, almost as if it was an alien concept. “And it got not fun. Once we realized it was going to be over the label, it started getting bad, and it fed into our personal relationships, and that all culminated in us having a big, big layoff.”
Byzantine has teamed up with Gravedancer Records to help get the new record out. Any frustrations the band may have had with record labels are in the past, OJ said.
“There was a lot of bitterness towards the end, toward the label,” Ojeda said. “We were trying to open doors and we found out they were kind of shutting them on us. We knew we weren’t going to be able to tour a lot, we were an older band, and they wanted to focus on 18-year old kids who didn’t mind sleeping in a van their entire lives.”
“You have to remember, we’re an older band,” Rohrbough added. “When we first got signed and put out our first album, I was in my mid-30’s. Usually it’s a much younger game. It’s a much younger game for kids who don’t have a lot of responsibility. Honestly, I can’t imagine us jumping on a bus and going out on tour now, they really don’t make such a thing as a road nanny,” he said, laughing hard.
Cromer summed up his thoughts on having Byzantine back together, making music again, and having kept their fans all these years.
“The difference between a band like Byzantine and your industry standard, cookie-cutter band, is we don’t follow any of the metal fads. We like what we like, and if it’s good, we roll with it. I think Byzantine stands out amongst the fad bands because we don’t adhere to anyone’s standard. Never have and never will.
“As a band, we come up with stuff we like, and if we like it, we hope other people do too,” Cromer added. “The fact that it’s still in demand by these people who were coming to see us years ago, it’s a gift, as far as I’m concerned.”
--- Byzantine plays The Sound Factory tonight with John Lancaster and Fall Before Your Creator, and plays The V Club tomorrow night...
IF YOU GO
Byzantine w/Horseburner, Saprogen
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18
COST: $12 adv., $15 DOS
Related: Byzantine: Back From Oblivion (Sept. 2010 H-D article)