||CHUCK GARRIC: IN CONVERSATION ABOUT BEASTO BLANCO AND ALICE COOPER
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
It was late in 2013 when I was hearing excited chit-chat about a band called Beasto Blanco, a band that had been assembled by Chuck Garric.
Chuck is a hard working and down to earth guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. You may know his work as the long serving bass player for Alice Cooper these past eleven years or so (as I type this), plus his contributions for Ronnie James Dio and a short stint with L.A. Guns during the period that Jizzy Pearl fronted the band?
Perhaps none of these examples ring any bells. Well, we're giving you a chance to catch up with the man himself as he discusses Beasto Blanco and much more.
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I kicked off our conversation by asking about how he and Chris Latham hooked up in the first place to set up Beasto Blanco.
Chuck: "Chris and I have been mates for many years; he was one of the first guys I met when I pulled into Los Angeles. I got a job at this music store and I was probably 19 or something and Chris was working there as well and we kind of met through that. I had rented a motel where I was staying at 'cos I just didn't have much money back then and at the end of the day Chris showed up with a 12 pack of beer and we sat there and played music and drank beers, and from then on we've just been best buddies.
"We've been in several different projects together but we've always had kind of the same love for the same types of music and this is just something we wanted to do together."
Due to Chuck's involvement with Alice Cooper, I wanted to clarify whether he saw Beasto Blanco as merely a project or was it a band in his eyes.
Chuck: "Beasto Blanco is definitely a band and I hate it when I use that word "project" 'cos that's something I definitely want to steer away from regarding Beasto Blanco. It's not a solo record for me; it's not a project for me – it's a band; it's a lifestyle; it's definitely something we'd like to see people look at as more of a band than just a project, just out of pure respect for what it is and also for the guys and gals that are involved in the band. I don't want them just to feel like they're part of something that I'm doing - I want them to feel part of Beasto Blanco just as much as I am."
Moving the interview towards the debut album 'Live Fast, Die Loud', I enquired whether the tracks had been around for a long time.
Chuck: "Well a few of them have been. I mean there's a couple of tracks on the latest record like in particular 'Live Fast, Die Loud' and 'Freak' which had been in our bag of songs for quite a while. We started with those songs just on the new Beasto' record; we started with 'Breakdown', 'Live Fast, Die Loud' and 'Freak' 'cos we kind of knew that was a style of music we wanted to head towards, and 'Breakdown' being the brand new song of those three.
"So, we wanted to see how it matched up with something we're writing new now and what we kind of had in the past to see how we could mix them together and see if the sound was cohesive. It worked out great, so from there we continued to write all new songs. Yeah, we had a couple that we just re-hashed, and I think what we'll do on the next record is we'll probably re-hash a couple of old ones as well just 'cos they're so cool to play and they need their time in the proper studio you know."
Acknowledging their style was a little like Rob Zombie, I quizzed Chuck about the sound and style they have on 'Live Fast, Die Loud'.
Chuck: "I'm a Rob Zombie fan; I'm a White Zombie fan and I love that stuff. I love the mix that White Zombie had from that sort of industrial type Rock n'Roll with adding some of the sounds and sequencers and things like that; I was always a fan of that. So, realistically I can see the comparison between from the song 'Breakdown' but the rest of the stuff, I'm not quite sure about. But I wouldn't be surprised and nor am I offended by it, I take it as a compliment.
"Guys like Rob Zombie and Motörhead and these bands, to me they kick ass! They're great bands and if you're going to compare us to anybody, I mean compare us to some of the great ones out there.
"When you're writing songs the whole idea behind it; your influences are going to come out and there's a certain style of music that I like to listen to and that I like to see live, and it's definitely that energy of White Zombie and Motörhead and the Ramones; that pure Rock n'Roll energy; that tempo; that attitude they have. That's something that's always got my attention even as a kid and to this day, that's why I love Metal and that's why I love Rock n'Roll."
The Alice Cooper bassist then discusses how much he loves Ted Nugent and the essence of the attitude that goes hand in hand with Rock n'Roll. A list that includes KISS, Iggy & The Stooges, The Clash and ZZ Top roll off his tongue as he injects some passion in to his outlook on the music he adores.
I tackle Chuck after his opinion about Rock n'Roll regarding the presentation of this music in the live environment. Do the theatrics of Alice Cooper eclipse the energetic attitude that he loves to see on stage? Afterall, he is going out there and playing alongside the legend and would be the perfect person to ask.
Chuck: "That's a good question man, that's a really good question. I know for me when I got into Alice Cooper, when I was asked to play with Alice Cooper the theatrical thing obviously came to my mind, and I couldn't wait to get up on stage and be part of all the theatrics that were going on. I was over the moon about it; I thought this was going to be amazing.
"But when I joined Alice it was the Bare Bones tour where he had stripped it all down and took all the theatrics away except for maybe one little bit, where he wanted to just play Rock n'Roll. I was really kind of like; inside I was a little upset. I wanted to be part of that. As the tour went on I realised - Wow, this is amazing, this straight ahead Rock n'Roll thing really works for Alice Cooper 'cos he has such a great catalogue of music. You can just listen to those songs and not have theatrics.
"But when you play a song like '...Dwight Fry' or play a song like 'Go To Hell' they call for it. They were written with that intention in mind. I think for Alice Cooper it works really well the theatrics and the mixture of Rock n'Roll; because the way he does it, it fits the material so well it just becomes part of the song for me. Where other bands will try to do something theatrical and for me they do it to do it, but for Alice it's who he is; it's who the song is and it just seems to work really well for me. I've always felt he can never over-do the theatrics as long when he's playing the catalogue that he has.
Knowing his commitment to Alice Cooper isn't wavering at all, and witnessing his eagerness to promote Beasto Blanco in the same breath, I asked him how he was coping with the workload.
Chuck: "Hey man, I'm definitely spreading myself very thin. But that's just part of it. Right now I feel like, Rocking is my business and business is good right now! I'm so lucky to have somebody like Alice Cooper on my side; he's very supportive, he's such a genuine guy and him and I have become really good friends over the last 11 years. Not only are we friends, but our family is very close.
"I think when Calico Cooper came in on this band and started singing backgrounds and doing her part on the Beasto Blanco record and when he heard it, he was also a fan of it. He thought it was very good music; he loved it. He wants to see us doing our own thing and being creative. I mean he can only use so much of what we do, but he also knows the guys in our band are also creative outside of the Alice Cooper band.
"Now, don't get me wrong Alice Cooper is always and still will be my main focus and my main priority; but to be able to schedule the two, obviously Alice Cooper has to take priority and Beasto' fits in when I have the down time. To have the support of Alice in the camp there, it definitely helps you know."
I stepped in to the realm of the hypothetical with Chuck and asked whether there was any chance that the material for Beasto Blanco had Alice Cooper in mind. He chuckles out loud before taking a deep breath.
Chuck: "I've always thought that when; I've been writing for Alice Cooper forever; since the 'Eyes Of Alice Cooper', in the last 11 years or 10 years I've been writing songs for Alice and I don't know necessarily if I've been writing all of them for Alice; but because I've been listening to Alice Cooper for so many years and learning his catalogue that it's another one that you can't get away from, it's just now embedded in me...
"I think that the Beasto' record for me wasn't necessarily an Alice Cooper record because of the more straight forward White Zombie and the Motörhead kind of vibe, but I would love to hear him sing a couple of the tunes just so I could figure out what in the hell Alice Cooper's melody would work over that stuff 'cos I think it's genius."
There was a little bit of confusion where we were supposed to meet each other for this interview, but despite the challenge we still went for it and I have to say it was a pleasure. I just want to say a BIG thanks to Chuck for juggling the bits and pieces he was dealing with at the time I arrived and taking my questions and observations on the chin like a real trooper.
I sincerely hope that we'll be hearing more from him in the future, especially with a cover version-themed album on its way this year from Alice Cooper! Watch this space for further updates.
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