Tuk - Biters - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Saturday, 19 March 2011 05:00

 

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Having once been guitar slinger in Atlanta punk rock 'n' rollers and all round trouble makers The Heart Attacks, a band who made some waves with their 'Heartless And Hellbound' album before imploding in a cloud of the usual bad boy rock 'n' roll smoke, Tuk returned with a band he called Poison Arrow. This proved to be short lived before he realised he needed to get busy and more serious and get his head on the game and put a band together that could compete with the biggest and best in the business with a sound that crosses some quality genres.

 

Biters have just released their third EP, 'All Chewed Up', and head out on the road around their native US to turn more people onto the music that quite simply deserves to be heard. I thought I'd steal a bit of a march and get the lowdown from Tuk and find out why everyone should be checking them out. You can thank me later for introducing you to one of the bands to watch in 2011......

 
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What's the idea behind releasing a series of EPs as opposed to just putting out a full album?

 

I guess because there is so much music coming out nowadays if I put something out every couple of months it keeps us ahead of the game and in the mix as opposed to an album with 12 or 13 songs and then nothing for the next year or so. I could have done that but I decided to just keep writing and stagger the releases so not only is the quality better it's also a bit like a blitzkrieg.


Makes good sense these days, maybe that way will catch on seeing as music has changed in how people buy the product and tour. It'll give a good snapshot of where the band is at points throughout the year and keep you in the public eye....

 

You bet.


Did you always want to be the singer in the band or did your time with The Heart Attacks put you off frontmen?

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No. I sang because there seemed no other option. There seemed like there was nobody who'd fit so I had to step up.


Did you try out any singers?

 

Yeah, I tried out a couple but they couldn't really sing and some were idiots. There doesn't seem like there is a lot of people who can sing and pull it off and write as well and I wanted the Biters to be the best band it could possibly be.


Having to release EPs often, the pressure is on you guys to keep delivering. I suppose you have to write often, is it something you enjoy and does it come easily to you?

 

Yeah, I'm writing all the time. I guess I'm obsessed with it, it's a constant for me. I'm always hearing tunes and melodies so it's good to keep developing and rolling.
 

What about the recording - is there time to demo the songs if you're releasing them so often? What's the set up - you use a home studio?biters3

 

I intern in a recording studio with the label that puts us out so it works out. We still have to pay for it but it's really comfortable because I'm here in the studio all the time and I know what's what in here.


You put the band together and began gigging right away, within the first month. Did you have a lot of songs written already that worked for the Biters?

 

Yeah, I had a band called Poison Arrows before the Biters and there was a bunch of songs that were ready for Biters so I ended up having to find the people to play because the songs were there and some shows were booked and I don't like to waste time. It worked really well in that not having the time to put things off meant we had to get down to business right away.
 

The Biters sound is quite a departure from your previous band The Heart Attacks, would you say Biters is more you, more your style or just where you're at now and more a variation on what you'd done previously?biters5

 

Um, maybe it's more my style but I like to look at it as something of a natural progression. The Heart Attacks were like five kids. I was like 18 or 19 back then and I think people tend to change a little or a lot as they get older. Also I'd done what The Heart Attacks were about and I was ready to move on and like I'd done that, you know what I mean? There was no point in just starting another band that would have been The Heart Attacks with a new name, and the songs I was writing weren't really where The Heart Attacks were at anyway, they were kind of over and the writing was on the wall so it wasn't a surprise when it ended.


Who would you say are the influences on how you sound?

 

It's such a wide variety, you know? I love a lot of classic rock from the 70s and the 70s punk is a big influence - more the attitude of bands like the ones from the UK or The Heartbreakers and the Ramones with the whole gang mentality - also the glam rock from that era as well and some of the late 60s garage. I try and take a piece of all of that when I'm writing, all the best pieces from all those genres. There are too many good styles and good bands to take some influence from to focus on just the one genre like a lot of bands do. That wouldn't be me anyway, you have to stay honest to yourself.


How have the public been taking to the band at the live shows?

 

In Atlanta we're doing really well at the moment and when we tour we're actually getting a better response than when I was out there with The Heart Attacks. So we're actually building a decent fan base which I'm really grateful for.


Is there any sort of scene in Atlanta where there are like minded bands?

 

Not really. There was a bit of a scene when The Heart Attacks were out. There were quite a few bands involved and punk was really big around '05 and '06 then it just kinda died out. There isn't a scene at all now, we're just trying to go out and create our thing. There seems to be a lot of the old rock 'n' roll people coming out to our shows which is cool because we're getting the young people and with the older crowd we're seeing a good cross section.


You're signed to a French label - how does that work?

 

Yeah, we're signed to the French label Pop The Balloon and they're putting out a 7" single.


You were signed to Hellcat when you were in The Heart Attacks - was that avenue open to you with the Biters?

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Well I did think about it but there was so much shit with The Heart Attacks and the singer caused so much trouble with the label we'd pretty much burned our bridge there so I didn't contact them and they've not been in touch with me. I think in the end they were just happy we broke up because we were causing so much trouble.


You're quoted as saying "strong melodies and choruses have been missing from rock music." Who in your opinion were the bands that wrote strong melodies and choruses? Going back to the 70s with Slade, T. Rex and the 80s with Hanoi Rocks perhaps?

 

Our favourite bands are probably from the 70s and 80s, even the late 60s. I'm not really getting a lot of modern bands. There are a few who are great but yeah, the bands you just said are right on. Those are the bands I gravitate towards.
 

Are there any plans on the horizon for taking the Biters further afield, like a UK or European tour?

 

I'd really love to come over there but right now it's a question of means. You know, money, and our label is kinda small and doesn't have a bunch of money to put that together right now, but we're hoping. We've had some contact from people who would like to make that happen so who knows, maybe come the Summer it might be something we can do, or early Fall. It's something I really want to do- you know, I never had the chance with The Heart Attacks and we were going to come but it was just before we broke up, so it never happened.
 

Do you have a plan for 2011? Is it sort of mapped out what you want to achieve for the rest of this year?

 

Yeah, in the immediate future we've got pretty much a full US tour booked, like starting in March and April running through to May. Hopefully we'll cover the Midwest and so on. The record came out March 1st so that's pretty much where we're up to.
 

How did you manage to get Joan Jett to sing duet on a track when you were in The Heart Attacks?

 

We had the song on the record and we tried a bunch of people. We were recording up in San Francisco and we tried some female singers out, like studio singers and stuff, but it just wasn't working - they either sounded too trained or sterile, you know? The producer felt it as well so he said, "Okay guys, this isn't working. I want you to write your dream list of female singers who could sing this part. From the very top I'll go through the list and we'll try and get them." We had Joan Jett on there, Debby Harry, Girlschool, Bekki Bondage was on the list but Joan was number one on the list. He called her and she said yes straight away and we were like "woah, cool!" We got really luck I guess.


Were you in the studio when she put her vocals down?biters7

 

No. I wish I was but I had to fly to New York so I sent her a scratch vocal we had some studio girl do and she just knocked it out straight away which was amazing. But I've done a couple of shows with her which was great.
 

Having been in The Heart Attacks you must have one or two gig stories that you've tried to forget. Well now's your chance to get it off your chest and give the fans a giggle while you're at it and exorcise those demons. Any spring to mind?

 

Oh God, yes! Besides the normal technical difficulties we've had, we used to get a lot of hecklers - not so much the Biters shows but before that we used to get it all the time. You know, typically some jock guys. Once this drunk jock was giving me some, "hey you faggot", you know the typical stuff like that or fights and stuff, we had all that. Nothing too crazy really. I'm sort of used to being called that by jocks. Oh yes, there was one time when some guy called it to me so I asked him to get up on stage. I told him if you think this is easy why don't you get up here and sing. So we improvised a song and he got up and then he lost it, throwing the mic down and calling us motherfuckers and go fuck yourselves and then he stormed off the stage and got the hell out of there and we all laughed.


Can you tell me what the Hate City Rockers is all about?

 

Well, when I was growing up there was a big punk-skinhead scene - you know, this street punk scene, and I used to go up into the city because I live a little outside of the city and these older guys had a sort of gang thing called 'Hate City Rockers' and they were the guys I looked up to then. Some went away but my generation of dudes picked it up. Now it's sort of just a bunch of musicians that are doing their thing and looking out for each other, it's not like a gang that goes out robbing or beating people up or anything like that but we have the patches and everything - it's sort of that kinda gang where we'd hang out and look out for each other and had a common cause. Lots of my favourite bands like the Ramones or even The Clash had the same type of gang mentality and I wanted to bring that kind of thing into the band with the uniform and stuff.

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Finally, how can people get 'All Chewed Up', the new EP?

 

It came out on March 1st and is available as a download on all the usual places like iTunes, then physical copies will come out as well. I guess online will be a good place to start if you can't get it at the store. 
 

Okay, cheers Tuk. All the best for the EP release and hopefully you'll get over to Europe and play some shows. The first two EPs were like a breath of fresh air last year and hopefully the music press will get behind the band and make those tours happen. I wish you every success.

 

Thanks very much for the support and yeah hopefully it won't be too long before we can bring the Biters over to Europe and play for you guys.

 


 
So there you have it, one of the best new bands out there. If you have anything about you then you'll go and check 'em out. Remember to tell 'em the Ubers sent you.


 

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www.wearethebiters.com

 

Photo kudos to Jackie Roman, Joanne Braverman, Kevin O'Meara & Beer Wolf