Alice Cooper band members feed their Frankenstein on their 2nd album
by Sal Serio
photo by Natalia Britt
Theatrics, flesh, muscles, tattoos, volume, riffs, grind, and thrust… this is Beasto Blanco, the project of longtime Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric. Enhancing the mix is Alice and Sheryl Cooper’s daughter Calico on vocals and mayhem, providing a Tarantino type of gritty and gruesome rock experience. Beasto Blanco’s self-titled second album has just been released on Rat Pak Records. Rounding out the band is outstanding guitarist Brother Chris Latham, drummer Tim Husung, and bass player Jan LeGrow. The following interview is with Chuck Garric, conducted on November 16th by Sal Serio.
CHUCK GARRIC: Sal! It’s Chuck Garric. How are you? Madison, Wisconsin!
MAXIMUM INK: [laughing] I’m great! Yeah, it’s been a little warmer than usual here this Fall.
CG: My wife is from Glendale. [She] also went to college there in Madison for a little while.
MI: Nice! Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m excited to do this interview. I saw Beasto Blanco play the “NAMM Jam” last January in Anaheim, and I’m a big fan of Alice Cooper’s, so I’ve seen you play a bunch of times in his band. I get the impression we have a lot of musical tastes in common.
CG: Cool! That’s great, man. Thank you. I appreciate that.
MI: I remember thinking at that gig that you were playing more guitar than I expected. Does Beasto Blanco give you more musical opportunities than you normally would have as a member of Alice’s band?
CG: Yeah, the concept from the beginning was to have it be a 4-piece, and in order for me to focus on fronting the band [and] being the singer, playing rhythm guitar would free me up a little bit. And I could have the option at times to have no guitar at all. So, the idea came from a show perspective, more than anything. We wanted to be able to change it up a little bit, if we needed to.
MI: Do you foresee more full-scale touring?
CG: Yeah, I’m actually leaving tomorrow to go on tour for a month long run. [It’s] an arena tour, with a very popular German-based band: Böhse Onkelz, which is a misspelling of the words “evil uncles”. We’re opening for them, and that will take us through all the big arenas throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. They are one of the top three biggest bands in Germany. It’s a 19 show run [that’s] been sold out since May. Over 300,000 tickets have been sold for this tour.
MI: Wow! So, are you bringing your full stage show on the road with you?
CG: You know, as an opening act, you can only bring so much [but] we’re going to be doing what we can do. We’re definitely going to be bringing the energy, the songs, and the theatrics that we have at our disposal. You can expect that from Beasto Blanco. We always try to think a little bit larger than where we’re at. We’ve had that mindset going in to this thing, from the beginning, that we wanted to come out of the gate as an arena rock band, and have a stage show that’s set for either clubs or arenas. It comes down to the size of the stage and the size of the budget. But, when you add Calico Cooper and myself on to the stage, you’re going to get theatrics, regardless. I think we’ve set up this band in two different ways, one side is pure rock ‘n roll, and the other side is a bit theatrical, and they intertwine with each other. That’s what keeps our audience glued to the stage, because you never know exactly what is going to happen.
MI: I would think this is an opportunity for both Calico and yourself to step out of Alice’s shadow and establish more of an identity of your own, but I also bet you’ve learned a lot being in his band.
CG: Yeah, I absolutely have. It’s hard not to. I’m sort of that type of person, eyes wide open [and] I’ve helped put together so many tours with Alice and Shep [Gordon]. I’ve been around for 15 years and have really been paying attention to how things operate. And, I apply that to Beasto and to the level of stage show that we can put on now. Calico and I both enjoy performing together, and yeah, it is a way for us to express ourselves differently. We really enjoy the characters we’ve come up with, and how they play off each other throughout the show.
MI: What do you feel are the major differences between your new self titled album and 2013’s ‘Live Fast Die Loud’?
CG: You’re going to hear a band growing. We’re really starting to hone in more of who we are on the second record. I love ‘Live Fast Die Loud’. I think that record is just solid. The production is amazing, the songs are great, [and] the energy is there. We obviously still play plenty of songs off that first record. But, the approach to the second record was like… what’s missing? Or what’s missing from the stage show? Is it some different tempos of songs? [Are] there different stories that need to be told lyrically? We went in to the next record with exactly those things in mind, and we were able to come up with some very serious and important missing pieces to the Beasto Blanco stage show. You come see the show now, and it has this amazing flow to it. Because now, there’s so many different elements you can take from each of those records, and add to the show. It enhances the experience.
MI: What are your favorite tracks on the new album?
CG: Well, one thing I’d like to mention is this record means a lot to me, not only as the second Beasto Blanco record, but there was a lot more involved than just “us as songwriters”. Like I mentioned, the record needed to be stepped up, and I really wanted to focus on the lyrics, and what is the story behind the band. My wife, Lindsay Garric, a Wisconsin native, stepped up [as] a fantastic lyricist and an amazing songwriter. We had written together, and as we started to progress in to songwriting, I realized she had a very unique talent for explaining exactly who and what Beasto was. So, we collaborated on the entire record, and it was when we had written the song “Grind” that I realized that she has this death grip on Beasto and understands exactly what it is. So [we’re] able to have this other element of lyrics in the story [that] pop out and lead the song more than the music or the riff. [It] was a really great experience in the studio. Because I had this solid melody and these solid lyrics that really told a great story. You can hear the difference, [and] visually it will take you to another place. It means a lot to me to have that type of an involvement between us, as a family, and as band mates, that there’s this inner circle of people working for the greater good.
MI: It’s interesting that you mention that, because my favorite song is “Dark Matter”, for a couple different reasons. It’s a slower tempo, and has a more lush sound and has a different kind of drama and dynamics to it, like it’s a soundtrack, and there’s some kind of visuals and story there.
CG: Yeah! You’ll find that throughout the whole record. I definitely have to agree with you, “Dark Matter” is one of my favorite tracks because it is so different from anything I’ve ever heard being a rock ‘n roll fan. We had the idea of wanting to start with nothing, and ending with this big bang. Conceptually [and] lyrically, it has to do with what a lot of us are dealing with, or, just our youth in general, feeling a little out of place. It has a double meaning. Think about saying, “you make the dark matter”, whether that’s somebody that’s having a hard time with depression, or drugs, alcohol… in general it’s important to say to them, “hey, you make the dark matter”, you have to make people know they’re important to us. They’re important to this world. But also, if you think about it from the other side, where you’re losing somebody, whatever it may be, the dark matter is sort of the dark times. They matter. They help you get through that as well. Lyrically, that song to me is one big beautiful poem. It’s a perfectly written song, and as you said, the visuals can take you through something like a sci-fi type feeling. When I heard the final version it gave me goosebumps. I think that song is very special, and it took a lot of courage to write a song like that.
MI: Does the songwriting inspiration usually start with Lindsay’s lyrics?
CG: Well, we never really plan songwriting. Just sort of… when the muse hit, we went. It could be at any particular moment. I remember, we were just both sitting separately in the living room watching TV, in our own element, our own world… our own head space… and all of the sudden my wife looks at me and says, “Stop. Turn off the TV”. I’m like, what’s going on? And she sang to me, “I may not been born with a crown on my head, but Mom gave me muscles and knuckles instead”. Instantly, we run in to the studio, [and] a couple hours later we’ve got the song “Grind”. That was inspired by lyrics, and by a melody. But, if you look at a song like “Honey”, “Buried Angels”, “Carcosa”, or “I Rise”, those songs were written with guitar riffs in mind. I would sing a melody with no lyrics. I would just scat what I wanted the melody to be, and then she would work on the lyrics and the story. I would tell her, this song makes me feel like this, or in order to finish that story we need something to complete this. She would go, come back in about an hour, and say “here you go”. We collaborated that way [and] it was a lot of fun to do because I could be focusing on one thing while my partner was working on another. I was able to hone in on the musical aspect of it, and the melody, then release it and let it go to her. We were both transcending and receiving. It was a really magical experience writing that record.
MI: You mentioned “Grind”, which is the latest video from the record… the first being “Feed My Frankenstein”. What’s your takeaway from the whole video experience?
CG: We had a really great time making those videos. The producers on those two videos [Sebastien Paquet and Jamie Brown of Smoking Gun Productions] are really incredible guys. They are very talented individuals. Basically, what would happen is we would throw some ideas on the table collectively. We’d start picking apart some ideas we had, and once we found a concept we agreed upon… which [with] “Grind”, was pretty simple. We wanted it to be blue collar, which is my background. We wanted it to be as tough looking as the song is tough sounding. The lyrics tell a story of working hard, grinding it out, and that was our approach. When it came to “Feed My Frankenstein” it was important for us to have a little more production and tell more of a story. We brought in our Beasto mascot, my subconscious who is always around, and little do we know that Calico, this fragile girl, is at the same time one of us. She actually is a beast as well, just as tough and badass as the rest of the band. I love the story line. You really get an element of what it would be like on stage with the band, but you get lost in the concept at the same time.
MI: After this European tour wraps up, are there plans for United States shows?
CG: Yeah, we wrap up at the end of December, and then we get back in to the swing of things mid-January. We’re going to do shows in the Midwest [then] down to the South. Moline, Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham… working our way down to the Monsters Of Rock Cruise out of Tampa, February 2nd through the 7th.
MI: Well, don’t forget about us here in Wisconsin!
CG: [laughing] This is one of those things we deal with a lot, and I’m so grateful that I have this problem. It never ceases to amaze me, when we release tour dates, no matter where it is, there’s always somebody that wants it in their town. And I want to get to every place in the United States that we need to tour [in]. And in Europe, South America, and Japan, that we still need to play. And we will.(6809) Page Views Beasto Blanco Online:
• Facebook • Wiki
CD: Beasto Blanco Record Label: Rat Pak Records
• Purchase Beasto Blanco on Amazon
• Download Beasto Blanco on Amazon