It’s time to get a band with a dash more of metal influence up in this mix and I have the perfect one to hook you up with. They are not hardcore metal, but their music has just enough of it to make you turn up the volume, roll down the windows, flail and head bang. Bethpage Black takes the harshness out of metal and makes it fun for us non-hardcore metal heads. They are a mix of a little of this, a pinch of that, folded into a metallic, poppy tune. They dub their music ‘Sickle Pop’ and can please the ear holes of metal lovers, punk lovers, pop lovers and the like, which is rare. Many times metal is a whole other world and bands won’t toy with it unless that is solidly their ‘genre’ and that folks, is what makes BpB so unique.
The members of Bethpage Black hail from Long Beach, CA, the birthplace of bands such as Sublime or rappers like Snoop, but they are a breath of fresh air in a sea of Sublime copycats and wannabe rappers. The band consists of four members: Matt Carmichael, Steve Coy, Vivien Larena, and Davin Giyhan and this foursome is kick ass. Their debut EP ‘Opera-Comique’ came out in 2009 and is set up, as the name suggests with the use of the word ‘opera’, with a prelude, curtains and all. The seven songs are the perfect showcase of their variance in musical stylings. It is honestly an album that takes you on a musical journey. The amazing melodies of BpB will hook you before you are even consumed by the lyrics. BpB creates the perfect balance of emphatic beats, distortion, vocal variance, implementation of a multitude of instruments (such as keys, acoustic guitar, etc.), and combination of fast and slow tunes. They are set to release another album very, very soon and that just means more badass tunes for us! I have not had the pleasure of seeing them live yet, but you bet your ass I’m making it happen soon. I can only imagine what it is like to hear these amazing songs in person.
BpB was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on to find out who makes sacrifices to King Tut before a show, how they fit into the LBC music scene (they don’t) and what their mission is! Dig it!
When and why did you start playing?
Davin: I started playing at age 12 in 1992 to learn Metallica songs.
Steve : I started playing when I was 9. My mom said to pick an instrument, so I picked the loudest, most annoying one.
Matt: I’ve been singing all my life, pretty much, though I’m not really sure why I started.
Vivien: I started playing bass a few months before I turned 16. My classmates wanted to start a band and I said, “Sure, I can play bass.” 😉
What was the first tune you learned?
Davin: “Greensleeves” by Metallica.
S: Probably “One” by Metallica.
M: On guitar—it was some Green Day song, I’m sure.
V: “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns & Roses
Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Davin: I admire Maroon 5, Jimi Hendrix, and Paul McCartney because they’re famous.
S : Freddie Mercury, Butch Walker, Dr. Luke. I really appreciate songwriters more than anything. My favorite drummer is this jazz/studio guy named Cliff Almond.
M: I admire anyone who can make a career out of playing music.
V: “Paramore” (with the Farro Bros) because I like their sound and feel as a band. I still like them though. I like Ra Ra Riot and Young The Giant because they both sound soooo good (even live!) and I like pop music…yes. Katy Perry, T. Swift and JB.
How do you feel you fit into the Long Beach music scene? Was it hard as an up and coming band in LB with your unique sound?
Davin: The LB music scene is hard to fit into because it’s a size small. And I love funk and hip-hop but I abhor reggae because it’s for stoned Ethiopians….so….no, it isn’t not a challenge.
S: It continues to be difficult there because there is that groove-y reggae type crowd, and also a lot of “Silver Lake Lite” hipster-type bands there. We don’t fit into that at all, and tend to do better in LA/OC.
M: I don’t think we do fit, but that makes it more of a challenge and I think we thrive on that.
Any rituals before a show?
Davin: The band doesn’t have one but before I leave my house I sacrifice an effigy of King Tut made out of old raspberries that I found on my midnight walks.
S: Like clockwork, I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. My anxiety is unstoppable until I hit that first note—after that, everything’s fine.
M: Vocal warm-up and usually a drink of some type of alcohol, which kind of defeats the purpose of the warm-up.
V: I just have to wear my striped jacket. It’s my uniform.
Describe what it’s like to perform for a crowd.
Davin: It’s like performing for one person, but you multiply that by however many people are in the crowd. For example, if the crowd were 250 people you would use the following equation: E=250 – 4.
S: Well, for me I can never see them! Haha. From the stage you can’t see anything. For me, I am continually surprised and grateful that anyone likes our little tunes so it’s always rewarding, regardless of crowd size.
M: To be able to share your talent with anyone is truly indescribable.
V: The crowd changes every show. It affects the performance somehow but I mostly have fun every time I play (especially with these guys!).
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Davin: I would turn the music industry upside down so that all the change fell out of its pockets, then I would spend the rest of the day gathering it up and take it to the nearest Coinstar machine.
S: There are a lot of really awful things about the music industry, but for me the most egregious mistake out there is Foster The People. Print that.
M: I’d make success more dependent on talent and less about marketability.
V: Maybe people could actually buy records!
How does your creative process typically work? What inspires you?
Davin: I usually whisper into a stray cat’s ear. If he smiles at me I write a song in a major key, if he hisses at me I write a song with jazz chord changes.
S: Thanks to the iPod/music buffet effect, I think many people listen to many genres, all juxtaposed. So many times I’ll hear, say, Kelly Clarkson, and think, “wouldn’t it be sweet to have some really sparkly background vocals?” Or I’ll think, “what if we did a song that was a mashup of The Police, Muse and Taking Back Sunday?” Lyrically, a lot of the themes come from dreams I have. For example, “Lipstick Colony” started as a dream about an earthquake happening under the makeup department of a Macy’s and evolved into a commentary on the things young people do to fit into society and be “beautiful.”
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
Davin: I’m building a dog house out of old cat skeletons for the sheer irony. Next year the band will do a short tour and some serious promotion, but mostly work on hard hitting, in-your-face, songs that are sure to get the attention of a person.
S: We just finished tracking a new record with producer Mark Needham (The Killers, Neon Trees, My Chemical Romance), which will come out early 2012. We’re going to support that with a tour in March, all over the western US.
M: Expect us to keep pushing the boundaries of catchy pop-rock!
V: A new EP and SXSW tour!!!!
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique?
Davin: People should listen to us because we have good songs. Things that make us unique: we have a weird name, we’re good looking, we have gender/ethnic diversity, and cool graphics.
S: We’re talented musicians already, but as our guitarist Davin says, the mission of the group is to “continually write better songs.” So we’re devoted to the craft of music, which I think is rare, especially when so many bands/artists rely on an army of producers and the like to handle the creative process for them.
M: I feel this band can literally play anything we want—any song, any style—which makes the final product something special.
V: Because its intended more for music listeners, not club goers/dancing. We don’t have similar personalities, so when we’re all together it makes us a unique bunch!
One song you never get tired of.
Davin: “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
S: “Buried Myself Alive” by The Used.
M: Zombie Autopilot – Unearth
V: Lipstick Colony!
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
Davin: Magenta 6.3 at 14 Below in Santa Monica. They’re a Maroon 5 cover band.
S: My Chemical Romance at the House of Blues Las Vegas in 2006. They were great back then. Foo Fighters are always good too—Dave Grohl is an animal!
V: Paramore- September 29, 2009. It was two days before my 20th birthday and I won two tickets to watch the show from a radio station. I got a meet and greet with the band and it was also the first day of their “Brand New Eyes” tour, Josh Farro’s birthday and Taylor York became an official part of the band.
Favorite venue you’ve played so far?
Davin: House of Blues Anaheim. Their $9 PBR is to die for!
S: Either House of Blues Anaheim, or this little show we played at Long Beach Clothing Company. We set up next to the register, underneath a t-shirt display, and to me it was the most fun show we’ve played.
M: Radio City Music Hall
Last book you read?
Davin: The “I, Robot” screenplay by Harlan Ellison, based on the classic book by Isaac Asimov.
S: Reading ‘Damned’ by Chuck Palahniuk right now.
M: Heart Shaped Box – Biography of Kurt Cobain
V: The Case of Christ
Last movie you saw?
Davin: “J. Edgar” by Clint Eastwood. Pretty good.
S: Young Adult (Charlize Theron)
M: Horrible Bosses
V: Breaking Dawn (Twilight!!)
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Davin: Devin. He’s a smooth guitar player by day and a murderer by night. Partly based on my own life.
S: Lady Gaga. Except I would pronounce my name “Ga-GAH,” with an accent on the second A. And don’t try to tell me Lady Gaga is not a fictional character.
V: Sailor Moon. hahaha 🙂
What is something no one knows about you but you wish more people did know?
Davin: I’m a murderer. P.S. Don’t tell anyone
S: That we are the 4th or 5th biggest rock band in the world. Not enough people know that.
M: I wish people would stop asking dumb questions in interviews. Present company excepted.
V: That my best friend and I did the art for my high school class yearbook but somebody else was credited for it instead of me. I’m still bitter about it. I worked two weeks for it!
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