"When I find myself in times of trouble
Hybrid children come to me
Pray for father roaming--roaming free
And in my hour of darkness
It is standing right in front of me
He is the thing that should not let it be
Let it be, let it be..."
Beatallica, "The Thing That Should Not Let It Be"
Imagine if the Strawberry Fields were covered by dark clouds and the Nowhere Man revealed himself to be Beezelbub, the Lord of the Flies. Reaching out his gnarled claw, he invites you to Hold his Hand. Everything has gone Helter Skelter and you feel like you're trapped in a late 60's sanatorium. Strawberry Fields forever, indeed.
Fear not! There is a band that will satisfy both sides of your twisted brain with their gratuitous sonic assault. They are called Beatallica and by combining Beatles songs with Metallica-style thrash metal, they have proven to be both hilarious and immensely talented. Already talked up in Pitchfork, Revolver, and Spin, Beatallica are a band on the move. Their garage days may soon be over.
Jaymz and Krk (for their own legal safety, they haven't revealed their true names to the public as of yet) recorded 2001's "A Garage Days Night" in a single day but 2004's "Beatallica" took somewhat longer. In true indie fashion, Jaymz and Krk are doing this for the music, not just to line their pockets with Almighty Dollars.
Beatallica's music was released under a "Creative Commons" license, meaning that they don't intend to earn any money from their recordings (at least for the time being). As far as I can tell, parodies are still protected by "Fair Use" copyright law so I seriously doubt that they'll get any lawsuits from the demon-spawn Major Labels.
We did this interview via email because they're from somewhere in the Midwest and I'm trapped on the island of Montreal.
Jeremy Brendan: Your website has received over a hundred thousand visitors in the past two months. Did you sign a pact with the devil, or what? If so, did he hook you up with some sort of a guitar that shoots fire, or at least some foxy succubi?
JAYMZ: You know, all that traffic means that there's been a lot of help for us out there. The old site was at least a good starting point while we were giving other interviews and having articles done on us. Our web master of puppets, D2, is really a main reason for site traffic. He routes stuff to us to answer personally, like this interview, and he just maintains things very well. And yes, he did hook us each up with a succubi. She's very sweet and doesn't torture me too much as she knows I'm trying to keep up with important things. There's also a Beatallica.com based in San Francisco
and all those dudes have been great from the start. We, as a band, try to write back to those who enter the site and we encourage folks to come on back and check it out. We'll be putting up more fun stuff in the future to, hopefully, maintain the interest in the site and the band.
KRK: I did sign a pact with the devil, but he hasn't followed through on one important clause in the contract...George Bush is still the President of The United States.
Jeremy Brendan: I read on your site that you'll be playing a gig in El Paso, Texas. Will you be dressed in disguise or are you ready to reveal your true identities?
JAYMZ: "Disguise" may be a little much. We will have on garb that we feel represents both The Beatles and Metallica. Our costumes will change per show and we have a great outfitter up here in Milwaukee that has been really helpful and enthusiastic. When we're not playing, hanging out, chatting with people, or whatever, we may be as just our normal selves. We started Beatallica under certain guises and we'd like to keep that part of things going a bit, but we're not gonna let it rule our lives like the Descendants or Kiss. On stage, I'll be in character form, but off stage, I'm a character just the same.
KRK: You know the look of a typical Beatles cover band, you know, with the costumes and authentic guitars and everything? Well, imagine those guys having a nightmare that they were thrown into a mosh pit. That's how we'll look.
Jeremy Brendan: Have you been contacted by Metallica or any of the remaining Beatles? If so, were they reasonable, or were they itching to litigate? (I understand that what you've released is protected under fair-use law, being a parody
JAYMZ: No direct contact from either band but we have gotten words of
support from Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich in various metal mags in Europe. Their quotes can be seen via our site. I'm sure the remaining Beatles have other stuff to do like...be Beatles! We do have our legal stuff in order and we feel that we're trying to be careful, fair, non-slanderous to either band, and really just out for making fun music. That, however, doesn't stop a lawsuit against you, even if you're in the right. Hopefully, that wont ever happen. It's not like we're going to ruin either band with our chaos. I'd love to talk to either Metallica or The Beatles someday about it. Hell, I wouldn't even want to talk about Beatallica. I'd just want to talk tunes, life, general stuff and simply chill with a brew.
KRK: I think it would be a mistake on either band's part for them to take a dump on us. Metallica lost a lot of cred when the Napster deal went down, and here are some guys just having innocent fun and entertaining people all around the world, AND not doing it for the money. As for The Beatles, if they are having any problems with us, I'd like them to know that we've received a lot of mail from kids who never understood their parents' music, but are now going back to the originals (The old Beatle records) and discovering how incredible they were--which delights me to no end.
Jeremy Brendan: What is your opinion on the MP3 Revolution? Is the sky
really falling (as the RIAA says) or are the labels just worried that they won't be able
to retain their virtual monopoly over musical expression?
JAYMZ: I've never been in the position where what I do has been "threatened". I just think, with technology being the way it is, that the whole MP3, downloading, burning c.d. idea is something that may be a bit misunderstood. New technology can scare some folks at times, and it apparently has frightened an entire industry. Beatallica wasn't formed as a big "screw you" to the record industry. We simply use the internet to our advantage. We purposely wanted to do free downloads as a favor to folks. If we did sell tunes, it would be because we have a decent record deal or we're doing something for charity. Even if we did have a deal, we'd still insist on tunes being on the site for Beatallibangers to rip.
KRK: Jeez - the RIAA thing is just ridiculous...it's just fat cats bitching about how they'll have to wait an extra month to be able to afford that gold plated wet bar for their indoor swimming pools. I think the internet has shown record companies what they have long feared: the music that the corporations shove down our throats sucks, and there is a huge part of the population that doesn't HAVE to consume it
according to their rules anymore. C'mon, if there's some band that I REALLY dig, I'm sure as hell gonna go out and buy the CD, support the band, and go to see them in concert. Why? Because I want them to make another record. The inevitable downside, which really, really sucks, is that the poor guys who are in debt from their first major label recording are now more worse off than ever. The companies have always shafted them anyway, and now they'll trickle down the profit deficit even further, putting the burden on the artist's shoulders. Although we didn't start this band with the intention of flipping off the RIAA, I'm glad that, in a sense, it has become that. It shows that music CAN survive due only to the wills and efforts of the individual artists, and now we all have a way to propagate that...the internet.
Jeremy Brendan: If you had to choose between the two, would you rather play a show with Metallica or the Beatles (with their full line-up, of course)?
JAYMZ: Man, that's a tough one. In ways, I couldn't keep up with either of them. How do I even challenge Hetfield's awesome rhythm playing? How do I even become as multi-instrumental as McCartney? I guess I would say The Beatles would be my answer. I've seen Metallica play often since 1983, met them at in-stores, and grew up with them. I didn't get the opportunity to see the The Beatles live and barely recall Lennon's assassination. I'm schooled in their history and significance but feel like I'm always missing something. I would like to play a show with the Rubber Soul or Pepper's Beatles as they weren't hating each other yet in those days.
KRK: Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. I mean, Metallica would be cool, but c'mon. The Beatles changed the entire course of popular music. They were geniuses, and I don't mean to use that word lightly. Plus, imagine the chicks at a Beatles show!
Jeremy Brendan: Where did the "Yoko up your ass" comment emerge from? I couldn't help but notice that you used this expression several times in the News section of your website...
JAYMZ: Those Metallica fans will know that "Kill 'em All" was supposed
to be called "Metal Up Your Ass". The Yoko phrase is something that combines both bands for us. Some may take it as slanderous, vicious, or whatnot. For us, it's a compliment to give to Beatallibangers and we love for them to give us the "Yoko" just the same.
KRK: I have always been frustrated with the whole Yoko thing, and when I first said it to Jaymz, who is a very level-headed guy, I thought he'd think it was too offensive. He didn't, he loved it. I dunno, for me, it's just offensive enough...I mean, it's not like the majority of Beatle fans would disagree, but they may not want it tattooed on their foreheads (though I think they'd secretly scrawl it on their undershirts).
Jeremy Brendan: Have any of the major labels expressed an interest in
signing you? Would you consider taking the "Tenacious D" commercial route, or are you just in it for the music?
JAYMZ: We actually have had label interest but, as we couldn't obtain
and continue with the creative control we have right now, we didn't end up signing. We had quite a lengthy discussion with one label, and then everyone was cool with each other, but we just didn't feel like we'd be doing Beatallica as we're doing it now. We all felt like we'd be taking a step backwards and actually regressing. We want to be Beatallica as we are on the site, nothing less. We feel that the folks who have given us their support and shown interest would state the same and want us to remain true. Again, if a label did approach us, we'd certainly listen. We would want things to be right for us as a band, the label, Beatallibangers, everyone. A label isn't our primary focus, but it would be great if we could do it right. People from all over have been making statements that if we did get a deal and could structure it well, that would be
KRK: It's not a priority. If something were to come along that would befit the project for us AND our fans, we'd check it out. But right now, we want to play live, work on new tunes, and have a blast with the fans.
Jeremy Brendan: Would you ever consider sharing a stage/tour with
somebody like Weird Al Yankovic? Love him or hate him, he is one of the most successful parody artists out there.
JAYMZ: Totally would. I remember listening to the Dr. Demento Show on
Sunday nights when I was a kid. He was a regular on that show and really grew into a success. Folks could learn a lot from him in regards to his humor, the way he conducts his business, and the way he takes himself not too seriously. He really goes all out to bring his stuff to life and, whether you dig the parody or not, he deserves a lot of credit for following through alone. I'm not sure if he'd ever be interested in something
like that, but a sit down would be cool with me.
KRK: Yeah, I totally agree...I'm not an active fan of his music, but if I ever met him, I'd present him with a choice of the finest beers from my personal collection, perfectly chilled to just the right coldness that's appropriate for each selection, served in a pre-chilled cut crystal lead-free pub glass. There would be bottled water also, if he so desired.
Jeremy Brendan: What is your favourite type of liquor? Mine is Johnny
Walker Red but I'm just imitating the late, great Elliott Smith.
JAYMZ: Irish whiskey, Irish stout. Nothing better than having a snifter and 2 pints to just hang out. I have a fair share of that Irish heritage in my blood. At times, there's more in my bloodstream...I can honestly say though that I don't get loaded and play. I just can't do that, man. It's warm honey water for me. Oh, I also am a member of a winery here. It's one of the snobby things I do.]
KRK: I'm English and German, so it's Newcastle Nut Brown Ale for me. I dig Moosehead for something lighter, but we're also from Milwaukee, the beer capitol of the universe, and there are some absolutely KILLER microbrews here. Blue Moon for instance, man, if you ever find it, the White Ale is something worth crying for.
Jeremy Brendan: Are there any current bands that have caught your
attention? Do you prefer old school, shredder-style metal or some other style (death metal, etc.)?
JAYMZ: Not that they're current, but Lacuna Coil simply kicks ass. I know, here in the States, Evanescence gathered all the headlines recently. But Lacuna Coil has been doing their thing for years now and they do it wonderfully. I'm a big In Flames fan so I'm happy they're doing well. I also appreciate the fact that Dimmu Borgir is playing the Ozzfest. Blind Guardian and Katatonia are some others I really enjoy. I guess you could say I'm way more into the European scene than the American scene which makes
it sort of odd we'd chose an American metal band to emulate. But keep in mind, that when I was a kid, I was around for the early days of not only Metallica, but Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth, Anthrax, Death, Trouble, and more American influencing pioneers. I do listen to all sorts of tunes though--acoustic music, Irish music, soul, standard rock n' roll. Why listen to only one thing, you know? I don't eat the same everyday, I don't wear the same shirt every day. I wouldn't feel right listening to the same music every day. You just lose out on too many good things.
KRK: I've been an active musician since I was three years old, so although I don't dig the shredder stuff, musicianship and inventiveness is big for me. King Crimson is one of the heaviest bands ever, and one of the most innovative. I'm a huge Rush geek, and Voivod will always top my list (I don't have any tattoos, but my first will be Frank Zappa, my second will be Voivod). The few current bands that destroy me are Cryptopsy (from Canada), The Dillinger Escape Plan, Radiohead is always amazing, Mars Volta has it together, and Tool is just perfect. I really dig a lot of avant garde stuff, like hardcore punk mixed with jazz, or the stuff Glenn Branca has been doing.
Jeremy Brendan: Jaymz, where did you first realize that you could impersonate Mr. Hetfield so accurately? Did it take hours of practice in the garage?
JAYMZ: It was sort of planned and developed but the Beatallica project
as a whole was a bit of a pleasant discovery. It all started with me and Krk messing around in a festival here called Spoof Fest. I help to run and organize the event. It's a weekend long fest where local bands and friends who don't normally play together put on a show in reverence of their influences. There's a lot of fun, silliness, over the top sort of attitude involved. One year, we did Metallica. On the way to practice, Krk was
listening to the radio and "For No One" by The Beatles came on. The chorus riff stuck with him as a Metallica idea. He asked me to come up with some fun lyrics, metal style, just for kicks. We had so much fun with it that we dreamed up a few more: "A Garage Dayz Nite" and "Sgt. Hetfield's". We wanted to offer something to the attendees so we
recorded a c.d. and gave it out to a few folks. All the practice for the show and then the recording really started to make us think about things, what we could do, how well we
could do it, and what we wanted to work on and pursue. It's not like we even planned on creating Beatallica. We sort of fell into it as our stuff was getting so much attention. The more attention it got,the harder we tried to hone our skills. The Spoof Fest show was simply great and it was a true springboard to bigger things. We're still heavily involved with the festival and last year we donated the money to a friend of ours, now our monitor engineer, who lost his gear in a club fire. We feel good in saying that community efforts are really an important part of Beatallica and how Beatallibangers have become a part of the whole thing.
Jeremy Brendan: Last but not least, are you planning to tour Canada? I can tell you for a fact that Montreal, Quebec has a disproportionately large Metallica fanbase just waiting to hear what you bring to the amplifiers...Not just Load-listeners", but a true-blue Master of Puppets crowd.
JAYMZ: Me being a huge hockey fan, I'd love to get to Canada. My
high-school German teacher was actually a huge Montreal Canadians fan, last name of Lafleur. We're not too far from the borders of Canada. We're really working on making the best decisions we can for the band, that includes getting to Canada. We've been talking with a number of outlets to help us do that as well as get to other places. The
cries for shows all over the world have been growing: Europe, Australia, South America
especially, and The States. For us to do that, we're developing a plan that would allow us to remain an independant band that still has backing to go. Right now, we're our own management company, we set up our own shows, and get our act to where it needs to go. The more backing we have, the better off we are in trying to get somewhere. If a talent
buyer from Canada contacts us, we'd speak with them directly on getting up there. Again,
we've been talking with numerous folks here and abroad. If there's a club or fest somewhere, and we can all make it work, then we're way in! Our contact info is available via our website. We'd love
to show everyone what we're all about, and maybe even open up their minds to a Metallica
and/or Beatles musical world.
KRK: I have never been to Canada, but I've always been fascinated with it, and have joked over and over that I'm moving there. Some of my absolutely-favorite bands are from Canada, so there must be something in the water, and I need to drink it! Seriously, it sounds like a fantastic place, and if we get to tour there, I suspect that I'd hesitate to leave. Believe me, if we ever get there, and we hook up with you, get yourself ready to guide me on a Canadian adventure...show me what I need to see!
Jeremy Brendan: Thank you for the pleasure of quizzing you via email!
If you're ever in Montreal in the next few years, let me know and we'll do a follow-up
interview to catch up on your progress.
JAYMZ: Jeremy, thanks a lot for just taking the time, man. We're glad
to have you along as a Beatallibanger and we hope to do you and your readers proud! Tell your gang up there we appreciate them. And if you see the Voivod guys,let them know that their biggest Milwaukee listeners give them a shout!
KRK: Yeah, thanks bro! Keep in touch, and we'll do the
same. Hope to meet up with you soon...
Beatallica will be performing @ Balloonfest in El Paso, Texas (an event sponsored by KLAQ FM, a radio station that is very fond of the Fab Two) on May 31st. You can download both of their albums at their website Beatallica.org. As soon as they announce more tour dates, I'll post them on JB so that you don't miss the mosh pit! Now, I must be off to sacrifice some small animals in a dank cellar while listening to Abbey Road backwards. Cheers!
[Ed. Note: I once smoked a joint with a long-haired rocker type behind Bar Le Sapphir on St-Laurent Blvd. He eventually revealed that he was Piggy, the guitarist from Voivod, and turned out to be one hell of a nice guy. Voivod kicks ass! Coincidentally, Metallica's former bassist Jason Newsted is now one of Voivod's permanent members. He's on tour with Ozzy this summer but he'll be on their next LP.]