Scott H. Biram
(Originally appeared in Noise Noise Noise, Sept. 2011)
Scott H. Biram is an Austin-based punkmetalcountry bad-ass, who has been rocking out, one-man-band style for more than a decade now. In the hallowed tradition of Joe Hill Louis, and Hasil Adkins, he plays all of the instruments himself, at the same time. Please enjoy.
Interview by Josh Medsker
What challenges do you face, being a one-man band? Do you ever get major calf cramps? Heh.
Well, over the years, especially when I was first starting out, it was really hard for me to get across to promoters and booking people that I wasn’t just your average solo artist. They always assumed that I was just another lame ass singer songwriter guy who sat on a stool and strummed his guitar along with some cliche lyics about sitting down by the river picking flowers. Even after I signed with Bloodshot Records and obtained a high profile booking agent, the problem still existed. This made it hard to book me in any places other than coffee shops and dive bars that would often find a way to rip me off. It was hard to make them understand that I’ve got more balls and grit than most 3,4,5 piece rock bands.These days it’s gotten quite a bit easier. I’ve been touring endlessly for the last 12 years, and really pushed through to another level. Now I mostly play in 200-500 capacity rock clubs and festivals all over the world. The other thing about being the only guy in the band is I have to write all the songs, move all the equipment, make all the plans, take the blame…But like I always say being on the road as a successful one man band is like having your own birthday party every night!..and yeah leg cramps.. all the time. My achilles tendons are starting to freeze up from driving the van and holding my feet in weird positions on stage for months at a time.
I saw that you once toured with Bob Log III. Was it a friendly rivalry on tour? It must be tough, with you guys being pretty much the only game in town, with this one-man-band thing.
Bob and I have been friends for a long time. I was just in France playing a festival with him a few weeks ago. We have a great time around each other. It’s a humorous relationship for sure with plenty of mutual respect. As much as people like to compare us, we are really nothing alike musically. We might have a little of the same tastes as far as dirty vocals go, and we might both play from a blues based background but we are really nothing alike. People who think we sound alike need to study music a little closer. We are most definitely not the only one man bands in town.
There are hundreds if not thousands of OMBs out there! We just happen to be the ones that tour the most and get heard more often. I take this shit seriously and work my ass off trying to get the word out and make something of myself. I don’t plan on dying off and fading into the shadows with no legacy. I know Seasick Steve is huge over in UK. My friend Legendary Tiger Man in Portugal is huge in Europe, and Rev. Beat Man that runs Voodoo Rhythm records over in Switzerland is a force to be reckoned with. OMBs have been around for years…I am, however, pretty damn proud to be one of the pioneers of my generation doing this One Man Band thing. Long live the One Man Band!!
Have you ever considered taking on a full band?
I’ve been in plenty of full bands since I was 13 years old. When The Black Diamond Heavies and I were touring a lot a couple of years ago, we always jammed at the end of the show. People loved it, and I really enjoyed it too. So much that we recorded some songs together on my last record. My friend Matt Puryear, the drummer of Chili Cold Blood, and I have been jamming out in my studio for the last 10 months or so. He and a few friends of mine and I are planning to work up a metal band called Dawn in the next few months.
I’ve been asked by people if I started to do really well on a big label and they needed me to put together a band, would I? I said of course. My biggest problem is I’m picky when it comes to working with other musicians. And for now…shit’s working out just fine as a One Man Band and the money ain’t bad either when you don’t have to split it. That’s not to say I’m not already splitting it with booking agents, managers, labels, publishers and press agents…We’ll see what happens with that full band thing eventually.
I like what you said about current bands not wanting to give it all on the vocals. Do you have any major vocal heroes?
Off the top of my head….Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Leadbelly, Elvis, Danzig, Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Paul Di Anno, Billy Gibbons…you name it..if they can sing without sounding like a big pussy…I like ’em.
You have said you grew up on the blues. How does the blues figure into your music? Thematically, musically, sonically…
My music is the blues…..with a couple country songs and metal songs thrown in. Really even those are the blues to me. The blues to me is the most heartfelt music there is. Especially when you get down to those old chain gang recordings. Those guys had nothing to lose anymore. They were at the deepest bottom there is. Real human emotion drips off of those recordings. And Lightnin’ Hopkins…the coolest man who ever lived.
What bands are you digging at the moment? What gets the Biram stamp of approval?
Nothing. I’ve been sick of contemporary music for years now. I’m also sick of all the old records I used to listen to. Not because I don’t like them, but because I’ve heard them so many times. When I’m in the van driving on tour.. I usually am listening to talk radio or 80s shit. You can hate on Steely Dan and Huey Lewis all you want but I love that shit. I know that’ll probably make some people cringe but fuck them. I couldn’t play what I play if I just skipped over the 80s. If you listen close enough you can hear some of that shit in there. As far as contemporary, the ones I listen to are usually friends of mine or just plain heavy duty metal. What gets my stamp of approval.. well first I don’t think my say is really that important, but mostly bands and musicians who don’t put up a fake image, bands who don’t dress up in costumes, bands who don’t suck.
What do we have to look forward to on your next record? You touring? You swinging through NYC?
I’ll be in NYC this month!! I’m playing on CBS radio while I’m there which is pretty cool. Doing two shows in the area..The Mercury in Manhattan and The Rock Shop in Brooklyn. Also down in Asbury Park with my friends down at Asbury Lanes. I’ll be touring nearly non stop (just as I have been doing for the last 12 years) to promote the new record. It’s called Bad Ingredients and it will be released on October 11. We’ve been putting together some great things to make this one special including limited edition 7″ singles with b-sides that won’t be on the album, also I’ve already shot one video for my song “I Want My Mojo Back.” and I’ll be shooting one for “Born In Jail” next week. I’m pretty damn proud of what I’ve produced this time. I worked on it pretty hard. Even though it will be similar to my other records, showcasing all the different styles that I play, the songwriting and production have reached another level. Just like my late friend Steev The Sleeve Smith, I’m always looking up at the next mountain I gotta climb….when I get to the peak, I’ll probably need to take a big piss too, so look out!! Ha Ha!!