With a new record and lots of plans, one-man-band Scott H. Biram has plenty to keep him busy. We caught up with him last month while he was preparing to hit the road.
Q: What can you tell us about the new record, Bad Ingredients?
A: I don’t know. I just like all my records, they just kinda fell together. I started writing songs. As soon as finished one record it’s like I closed off the flood gates to song writing while I’m working on a record because I don’t want to go write another song in the middle of while I’m recording a record and then decide I feel obligated to put it on the one I’m recording.
I kinda close the creative floodgates for a little while. And then as soon as that record’s done they open back up again and it’s time to write again. But, you know, songs just come along to me.
Q: This record is a little quieter, a little “prettier” sounding than some of your previous material. Was this intentional?
A: I don’t really, you know, — I wouldn’t go in for a quieter record or anything like that. Honestly, the least records, Something’s Wrong, Lost Forever, which came out before that was a little depressing to me so I wanted to do something different. It still came out quiet I guess.
Q: How do you decide it’s time to make a new record?
A: When my bank account gets really low. I don’t know. Bloodshot – my record label kind of – we have a loose schedule for – I’m supposed to put a record out every – about every year and a half.
My last one, it was like three years in between records and this one was I think 2 1/2 years – 2 years, something like that. And it’s just – you know, time to do it. When those other songs start getting – when I start getting a handful of songs and then I know that I’m getting close to enough to make a record, I start recording ‘em. Or anytime I have some – a lil down time at home. I just like to go back in the studio.
I’m on the road 200 days a year, so I don’t really have a lot of time to sit in the studio. And my records are really time consuming because I record ‘em myself and I’m really over critical and I keep re-recording things over and over again. So it takes a long time. And I lock myself in there. I started – that’s about when I start growing a beard because I get so wrapped up in recording I don’t shave. I don’t take care of myself.
Q: How do you keep touring fresh?
A: Oh, it’s not fresh. It’s hell. You know, I’ve been doing this for a long time and back when I first started touring it was a lot of fun and everything. It still is a whole lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but now when it starts coming time to get on the road I get a little stressed out. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s what I do. It’s what – it’s my job so, you know, I get out there and I do it. I guess keeping it fresh is writing new songs. You get excited about writing new songs. Meeting some new people.
Q: What are the things you must have on the road?
A: Beef jerky.
I’ve tried to read on the road a little bit but there’s always somebody coming in and out of wherever I’m at and that doesn’t really work out so well. I can’t read while I’m riding in the van either ‘cause it makes me sick. So, just music and beef jerky. Maybe a little bit of the – that funny stuff.
Q: What kind of music do you take?
A: I listen to a lot of satellite radio and then I got my iPod and we just kinda shuffle through all those songs on my iPod. Plus they give us a lot of CDs on the road too and a lot of those end up getting left stacked on the gas pump somewhere in another town because some of that stuff really sucks. But some of it’s really good. You know, I get turned on to some good music sometimes.
And I really listen to a lot of old records and a lot of old stuff. I listen to old blues and old country and then when I listen to rock and stuff like that, it’s generally from the 80s.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: When I was a little kid, at the Armadillo World Headquarters, I saw Doc Watson and Merle Watson play there and that was just a big thing for me. When I still a lil kid around that time, I saw Charlie Daniel’s Band play at the Frank Erwin Center. And then my very first rock concert that I went to with just my friends without any chaperones was David Lee Roth and Poison.
Q: There’s been a lot of changes here in Austin, venues closing and such. Do you still think that Austin’s a music capital?
A: I think there’s lots of great music here and there’s lots of horrible music here as well. You just have to have some ears that can discern the difference. I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff about the new venues. And we’ve got – Scoot Inn’s been coming up over the last two years and maybe someday they’ll be another something that’s just as good as Liberty Lunch was. But, there’s still plenty of venues and places there. The Continental’s still going strong.
I don’t know what the new punk rock capital’s gonna be since the old Emo’s closed. It’s kind of hard to be the capital of punk rock or the home of punk rock in Austin if you’re gonna put the venue all the over there on the – way over on the east river side. I think there’s gotta be something up that’s more punk rock – punk rock venues downtown at some point for sure.
I really been liking the – those venues that are popping up on the east side – White Horse and all that. You know, I think it’s a good town and it’s a good town for music and I think we’re respected all over the world for how much great music comes out of this town. I get a lot of comments from people when I’m elsewhere in the world saying there’s a lot of good music that comes out of Austin. And then they go “I love Austin, but I hate Texas” and then I tell ‘em to go away before something bad happened.
Q: What’s coming up in the future for you?
A: We’re hoping to put a live record out in – sometime in the near future. We recorded a show at Mohawk and we videotaped it and everything back in November, but I have yet to listen to it so I don’t know if it’s useable. We’re gonna do that and my obligation to Bloodshot is kind of coming to an end. I have with them one more record and that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop putting records out with Bloodshot or anything. But, it also means that I’m not exclusively bound to them to put all my records out with them. I made friends with Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys, and he’s mentioned that I can maybe put some stuff out with them. I’ve been thinking about in the future maybe making some 10-inch EP records, like limited edition stuff… maybe recording more old time cover music, stuff like that.
Or putting out – maybe something that’s too hard for the – for a full release record, but something people would still buy and may, like, some vinyl EPs and just do fun stuff like that. Like, release singles by themselves and things like that. It could be interesting. People get excited when they get little extras. Excited fans are good fans.
Q: We’re at a new year, any resolutions?
A: The resolutions, hell no I don’t make any resolutions ‘cause I know I can’t stick with them. My resolutions are more like, get rent paid this month. I promise myself that I will pay my rent – I will pay my mortgage and my bills this month just like I did last month.
Q: Anything else we should know about?
A: I have a tour coming up. I’m about to hit the south and taking this girl Lydia Loveless that just signed with Bloodshot out with me and it should be interesting. And then immediately when that tour’s over, we have one day to drive to back home and pick up some more t-shirts and stuff.
And then I have to get straight over to LA and start a tour with G Love & Special Sauce which is a – which is kind of a strange combination, but it’s gonna put me in front of a lot of big crowds – a thousand people a night and stuff like that and that – and win over some fans that way. And I was penciled in for Letterman on January 10th, but it got dropped and now I’m penciled in again for April and we got our fingers crossed for that.