I was seriously debating whether or not to make the 3 hour trek from Grand Rapids to Detroit, to see Scott H. Biram at the Magic Stick last Saturday. Luckily, my awesome friends convinced me to go, even though I didn’t have a penny to my name- and I am so thankful that they did. I’ve seen plenty of solo artists in my day, but not anyone who’s actually lived up to the title of ‘One Man Band’, so Saturday was certainly a first for me. Not only is Scott one of the most talented guitar players I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, he also plays the harmonica on a neck rack, makes his own drum beat, and any second he has a hand free, he breaks out his megaphone. It’s easy to tell by watching Scott play, that he is not your normal solo artist; he isn’t starved for attention from the crowd, in fact it seems to be quite the opposite. I rarely saw Scott open his eyes and look at the audience while he was singing, as if he was almost still shy to be up on stage. Combine that with his Texan charm and endless stories that he has to share, and it’s easy to find a warm spot in your heart for Scott’s music. I was able to interview Scott right before he started his latest tour, and here’s what he had to say:
Amanda: First off, since I’m such a huge fan of metal, and I know that you are as well, I’d love to know who your favorite metal bands are.
Scott: I’m a big fan of Slayer, High on Fire, Sleep, Old Metallica (the only real Metallica!), Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dying Fetus, Megadeth, DRI blah blah blah… everything that doesn’t suck.
Amanda: Who taught you how to play guitar?
Scott: I taught myself. I started playing more seriously when I was 13 or 14, but I’ve been screwing around with guitars since I was 6 when my grandmother gave me an old Stella. I’m 36 now. I never took lessons. I took guitar class in high school and college but they were basic classes and it was all stuff I already knew. I have to say the late Rice Harrington, my art/guitar teacher in high school, taught me the bm-chica-bm-chica country strum when I was 16. That one has stuck with me for sure. RIP Rice.
Amanda: What do you think the biggest challenges are being a one man band, as opposed to having a full set up?
Scott: There are definitely a few challenges that come with being a one man band. One is all the equipment I have to lug around. Stairs can be a real bitch with all these damn rods and pins in my legs. I have a 1-2 man crew I bring on tour with me, but without other band members I have to deal with a lot of the tasks involved in putting tours together. Tour managing, hotel booking, most of the driving etc… etc..I have a booking agent that books all my tours. It’s getting a lot better since I’ve become more successful, but she used to have a lot of trouble trying to convince club owners that I had a big enough show to headline bills and bring in a crowd. But usually after I play at a new place they get the picture and see how many people will pay to see my sorry ass and they don’t complain anymore. I always say I love playing after 3 or 4 or sometimes 8 person bands and still blow people out of the water. I love my wall of sound. heh.
Amanda: Whatever made you decide to start using a megaphone during your sets?
Scott: I like the way it sounds… Kinda like I like the CB radio or the way the store clerk sounds on the intercom at the department store. I also am a big fan of the old Butthole Surfers stuff and Gibby always used a megaphone in songs back then. I guess it rubbed off on me. I only use it in a couple songs. Hey, if I have to yell at somebody in the crowd for getting out of hand or spilling beer on my shit over and over its seems pretty authoritative! heh… It’s a power trip ha ha… If I have to, I can knock the shit out of somebody with it. ha ha.
Amanda: If you had your pick of bands to be on tour with, big or small, who would you choose?
Scott: I would love to tour with ZZ Top. I always love touring with my friends like Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, Shack Shakers or T-Model Ford & Gravel Road. Since I don’t have a band, I can still get that “on the road” camaraderie when I tour with my friends. All these folks are pretty good friends of mine and I welcome any tour with them anytime. It happens pretty often. Always a good time.
Amanda: What city is your favorite place to play while you’re on tour?
Scott: I really like Barcelona, Spain. I also really like playing in San Francisco. I couldn’t really name a favorite though. There are so many great places I’ve been and love. I have a great time playing at home in Austin or in the town I grew up in, San Marcos, TX.
Amanda: You said recently that your ballads come from being depressed and jaded- has that always been your main inspiration for writing music, or is that just a recent thing?
Scott: I say a lot of things. heh. I have definitely written a lot of stuff while depressed but there’s a lot of things that make me write. I would say the biggest thing that inspires me is hitting the road. I don’t feel right unless I’m moving.
Amanda: I noticed that you have a few fans that believe your album Dirty Old One Man Band has a special purpose- Did you ever get a chance to see if the album matches up with The Wizard of Oz, and really does pick up where Dark Side of the Moon ends?
Scott: That’s good for a laugh, but I think it’s kinda silly. I never really thought that The Wizard of OZ matched up that great anyway. It’s funny that somebody would try to do that but I can think of a lot of other stuff that’s a lot more fun. I’m sure Dark Side of The Moon will match up with anything if you’re on LSD. heh.
Amanda: How has your new interest in acting been going? Did the demo you did for a serial killer truck driver ever work out for you?
Scott: Haven’t heard much about that truck driver thing lately. I’m always open to more acting opportunities. It’s fun and anything to break up the music shit is welcome. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing and touring but it’s good to try other things sometimes.
Amanda: What can fans expect from you in the near future? Any plans for a new album, or more tours coming up?
Scott: I’ve got more than enough material for a new album. I’m planning on working out some kinks in some of the new ones while on this next tour. I’m going to start recording it in mid-August. It should be out by next Spring or Summer.
Amanda: If you could dig up one person in the whole world, and bring them back to life for a day, who would it be?
Scott: Lightnin’ Hopkins would be a blast to spend a day with. I could get into some trouble with Jesus. ha ha…