Beatallica – Interview – February 2005

At first, the lads behind Beatallica decided to remain anonymous to protect themselves from any record-company induced legal backlash. But as Beatallica grew to become the best thing to happen to the Internet since ‘badgerbadgerbadger‘, Michael ‘Tinker’ Tierney and Michael Brandenburg, decided to emerge from behind their axes and say “Hey! We made this!”. Shame, then, that Sony Music decided to set their lawyers onto the people who run their site. Never mind about that, please let me…

…introduce to you the band that drank a thousand beerz

So, fellas, why don’t you put those Rickenbackers down and tell us about yourselves?

Jaymz: Well the real name is Michael Tierney, but everyone around here calls me Tinker, thanks to my 5th grade geography teacher. The family is basically just me and the curly-haired girl, JoJo, at home. Sure, I got my ma and pa, a younger sister, and various familiar extremities. My pa is especially extreme…

Krk: I’m a lifelong guitarist and musician, starting playing guitar at age three, and drums too at that time (if you can call what’s happening in the photographs I have of me as a kid pounding my Sesame Street toy drumkit into oblivion “playing the drums”). The Beatles were my best friends when I was a kid, and I always liked the heavier stuff by them the best. There’s a template for constructing a weirdo heavy metal musician.

How did Beatallica get started?

Jaymz: Krk and I were rehearsing for a show here called Spoof Fest. It’s a festival I help to run and it’s been in existence for 12 years now. One year, the band me and Krk were in decided to do Metallica. The fest is a chance for local musicians to pair up and emulate/have fun with their favorite bands. However, on the way to practice, Krk heard “For No One” by the Beatles and the chorus hit a nerve with him. Soon Beatles riffs were morphing with Metallica thoughts. I came up with some lyrics and we had a blast with it. That first song became “For Horsemen”. We made “A Garage Dayz Nite” and “Sgt. Het” soon afterwards just for kicks and we recorded a disc to distribute at the fest. We played a Metallica set but, little did we know, Beatallica was born that night. After friends of friends got a hold of the disc, it found its way onto the internet and that was the beginning of a world-wide reaction.

Krk: At that time, I had Hetfield’s voice in my head constantly due to rehearsing Metallica tunes for the Spoofest show. One day while driving around, I had the song For No One by The Beatles stuck in my noodle, and Hetfield starting singing it. Then Metallica started playing it. It occurred to me that the composition would make a fantastic tune for them to cover.very metal, if you put Metallica’s personalities into it. But the only feasible way they would do the tune would be to do it on a Garage Days’ album. And since I couldn.t just call up Lars and tell him to get the boys started on the song, I spoke with my Neanderthal pal and suggested we do a Garage Days’ spoof of Metallica covering Beatles tunes.

How did your nearest and dearest first react to the idea?

Jaymz: I think my friend Jane told me to “shut up, already!” once. Some of our buds really loved the idea. Some said, “I knew this was too good to keep quiet.” My ma still doesn’t really know what the hell I’m doing but, as long as I stay out of trouble, she’s fine with it.

Krk: It was just a joke, and it was with them only that we were sharing it. I guess the typical reaction was giggling, followed by “that’s pretty fuckin’ cool. Now let’s drink more”. But these people KNEW us, so they weren’t suprised.

Describe a typical Beatallica show

Jaymz: Ringo Larz eats, like, 12 pounds of meat and 5 protein shakes before the show and nearly explodes all over the place. Kliff McBurtney actually showers after we’re done playing, a highlight for us all. Krk Hammettson undertakes somersets on solid ground and, of course, I dance the waltz with Henry the Horse. Shows are meant to be loads of fun, very interactive, and filled with tight and blistering music. We really pride ourselves on putting on an entertaining show and showing how 2 genres of music can be morphed into one hella fun project. We’ve developed on-stage traditions of inviting folks up to sing “Hey Dude” and other special sing-a-long moments.

Krk: One of the things I’m most proud of with this band is that we are both fun and dangerous. The shows are the same…we definitely strive to have a fun show. But I think the typical parody or cover band would try to ease off on some of the aggression inherent in this kind of music, so that it could reach a wider audience. We don’t. AT ALL. What I mean is, they’d make it a bit “cuter”, not be quite so heavy as the old-school Metallica, but would maybe make a parody of that heaviness. It’s apparent when we play live…sure there’s funny props onstage and Jaymz’ wig looks godawful and we’ve got silly costumes, but the music is real, not cute. I personally tend to physically freak out quite a bit onstage. I was a major headbanger in my teens, and it evolved from there. Now it’s my whole body that bangs. I have my own personal, one-man slam dance pit over on stage left, and wherever else I end up after somersaulting. The other guys are learning when to join me and when to stay far enough away so there will be no broken limbs. But we’re all true metalheads at heart, or hardcore punks, and we intuitively have that energy. I think the audiences catch on to that…the show can’t be just a stupid joke because “wow, that guy with the best-looking wig is REALLY into it!”

What’s been the highlight of Beatallica’s career so far?

Jaymz: Highlights for me come in many ways as there are many aspects to a band. As far as live, the highlight for me is still the El Paso show. Though I don’t think it was our best show, it was the start of a live aspect of the band. We showed we’re able to take the Beatallica project into a new realm that we didn’t intend to reach at first. I do think the first Milwaukee show and the Dream Theater show were our best performed however. As far as a tech highlight, the introduction of the Gray Album on the new website on April 1st is the winner. Just to watch the site meter “run for its life” was a treat, and very much appreciated! 2004 has been an enormous learning experience with dudes I consider my good friends. There’s something to be said for that.

Krk: Well, the phone call to the U.K. was pretty freakin’ cool…but for me the highlights happen all the time…every single time I get an email from someone I’ll probably never meet (and usually from countries I’ll probably never visit), saying that they dig our stuff. I know it sounds selfish, but it makes me feel good about myself, knowing that something that came out of my head has made a difference to people from so many cultures and backgrounds. It makes me feel connected to a larger and more important part of this universe than just my own needs and worries and dreams. Um, I’m starting to sound like George Harrison now, a little bit, ain’t I? Not very rockstar-ish. I’ll start again… Uh, okay, it’s was fuckin’ triple killer to play with fuckin’ Dream Theatre last year. And, um, then the next highlight will be when some chick in the audience flashes her fuckin’ tits at me! Yeah, that’d be AWESOME.

Tinker, your Hetfield impression is so dead-on that many folk have been fooled into thinking it’s the real deal. How do you do it, and does it hurt?

Jaymz: Well, thanks for those kind words, ma’am! I guess it occurs by way of a few things. Basic genetics, learning how to sing the right way and not forcing sounds and ruining your throat, not overdoing alcohol on show nites as that swells your throat, practicing breathing and phrasing techniques, pacing yourself in a live setting, fighting allergies as i’m allergic to smoke, and simply having the Het attitude. He’s a great musician who’s really learned how to sing over the last decade. Sure the first 3 albums are classic, but you gotta give credit to someone who wants to expand and better their craft. I can do a bunch of other impressions. I just think that stuff is completely fun.

It’s not all Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…

Tell us about the other bands you’re involved with…

Jaymz: I play quite a bit besides being in Beatallica, though Beatallica is getting the most notable attention outside our region. I do play bass and harmonica in a band called Reilly, an Irish rock band. We’re looking forward to recording a disc with me on it this year. We stay very busy, not only in March, and we have appearances with Gaelic Storm coming up. I’m also in an acoustic trio called Tynkr Boys where i play acoustic guitar, harmonica, and bouzouki. A disc is forthcoming from them as well. Besides that, solo shows and even poetry writing are on my plate. I put out a book a few years ago of original poems that was the hardest project I’ve ever done. Let’s see…I still help to run Spoof Fest and am involved in the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Area Music Industry as well.

Krk: My major project is a trio called Ka. Ringo is the drummer. We have been together almost nine years. Our roots are in extreme punk, metal, and prog rock, but we play whatever inspires us. Sam, I think you heard an acoustic tune by us, right? We are always challenging ourselves…we are working on a piece right now that is one song, but three CDs long. I also compose “contemporary classical” music, you know…stuff like John Cage, Gyorgi Ligeti, Steve Reich, etc. I’m also currently finally starting to get serious with a project I’ve been writing music for for quite a while…it’s very demented grindcore-meets-ambient-meets-avant garde. I’m scared to tell you the name of the band…

OK, I’ll tell you, but you should delete it if you’re offended…

‘Corpsefucker’

Sorry.

Where can we get hold of more tunes by your other bands?

Jaymz: The Reilly stuff can be sought out at www.reillyrocks.com. Again, the recordings don’t have me on them as I’m somewhat the newbie. But we have a ton of stuff just waiting to be put to tape. The Tynkr Boys trio begins recording this Spring. The Tinker poetry books are available through me.

Krk: Ka should have a site up by summer, as well as (hopefully) that other band.

Men with Guitars

What instruments do you use?

Jaymz: We were asked this question on our Beatallica bulletin board. For Beatallica, I use a Terser “more beer” 6 string, black and gold. Also a ‘Yoko up your ass’ explorer, same trim. A Marshall cabinet with JCM 800 head, nothing fancy. Various stomp boxes but not a lot of effects. I’m pretty straight forward for this. My other gear ranges from a 1975 Les Paul custom to a 1979 Ibanez artist series, a 1997 Fender precision bass, ampeg bass cabinet, Martin acoustics, Trinity College bouzouki, a bunch of harmonicas and other assorted classical and acoustic instruments and p.a. gear.

Krk: Studio – my Paul Reed Smith guitar (an old one from before 1994) into a Digitech GSP-2120 (Muti-effect processor with real tubes) through a vintage Marshall cabinet. I played a Rickenbacker bass through a BagEnd (I believe) amp, and the drums are a Pearl Masters kit. Live it’s the same, except I play a Rickenbacker guitar like John’s, just because it looks so damn cool.

What instruments would you like if money were no object?

Jaymz: Probably some ancient Celtic harp or any other instrument of the times for my pub to be in my house. Nice expensive instruments are just that, but I’d like to have something(s) with lifetimes of history and culture.

Krk: For Beatallica? I’d like a custom built guitar that looks like the Rickenbacker but feels, plays, and sounds like my PRS. And a wall of Vox Beatle amps (but with Marshall guts inside).

Any tips/tricks for the novice guitarist?

Jaymz: Stretching and strengthening exercises. I broke the 3rd – 5th finger on my left hand about 14 years ago (I swear to god I didn’t see that drum set when I threw myself across the stage that nite in Madison…) and I know I have some limitations because of it. Before every show, I stretch out from my head to feet and really try to pay attention to being limber before busting out a long show. Some nites, I may play for 4 hours. Being prepared has helped me quite a bit in the longevity and stamina department.

Krk: Do NOT give up. If you’re starting to learn something, and you feel like you’re making no progress, KEEP DOING IT ANYWAY. Trust me. Say you’re learning a particular riff. It’s really tough, your fingers don’t want to move like that, and it’s becoming pointless and frustrating. Take it slow, and keeping doing it, but put a time limit on it. Say fifteen-twenty minutes. Record yourself doing the exercise or riff. The next day, DO IT AGAIN, even if it’s still as hard. Keep it up for a week. I promise you that after a week, even if you still don’t have it, you’ll look play back the recording of Day One, and you’ll think “wow”. Period. Rocking in the Real World

Do you still have day jobs?

Jaymz: Well, my supervisor is convinced I’m leaving soon but it’s nice to have insurance. I work some hours with the elderly community and with the School Sisters of St. Francis here in the city. We’re the North American headquarters for the sisterhood. I do physical medicine and rehab with my youngest being 54 and my oldest being 104. I work a lot with dementia and brain syndromes, disease processes, and the like. Music is a portion of my job and I’ve conducted programs here at work as a music therapy session. Working with this population has been an enormous influence on my music, personal life, and family life with my grandparents. Could I leave work and just do music? Sure I could, I play so much. But I went to school for a reason and, as long as I have the time, I’d like to be here. I get an awful lot of leeway to take time off and be a crazy kid though.

Krk: In a nutshell, I’m a Historic Lighting Designer.

How do you find the time to fit it all in?

Jaymz: I could really use like 9 days a week, 36 hours a day to get caught up. I have to say, my straight-laced, suburban girl is a good sport about all I do and am asked to do. I’m at the busiest time of my life, and I’m loving it. As long as my personal life doesn’t suffer the consequences of that, then I’m in to play and play, and forge new ground for Beatallica or any other project I’m a part of. It’s sort of a way to make a legacy and not live a hum-drum life.

Krk: Creating music is all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life. It takes precedence. Of course, I only get to the movies maybe twice a year…

Other than music, what else do you enjoy doing?

Jaymz: I’m really into stuff like football, hockey, hoops, volleyball, hiking, and especially baseball. I become a different person when I play ball, I know it. The focus is so high, even higher than when I play music. What else? Camp Tinker musical and drinking excursions into the woods of Wisconsin with my buds. It’s our own chunk of family land with a place on it but you can get lost if you so choose. We do a lot of theater and winery tours too so we can get our high-brow attitudes their fix.

Krk: Mountain and Road Biking. Camping. Futzing with computers. Reading. Watching strange and/or artsy films.

Do you have any advice for folks out there wanting to pursue their creative dreams?

Jaymz: I’m fully of the belief that you need to jump on opportunites when you can. Don’t hope they come to you and then be hesitant, make them happen by working at it. Be prepared in the other facets of your life, for when they arrive you only have a short time to grab them. Take risks, but don’t be rash. Be calculated and thoughtful. Also, about the drugs thing. I personally know 3 friends of mine who were either killed in a drug deal, killed themselves with heroin, or lost everything (band, family, job, money, kids, freedom, etc.) due to out of control habits. Sure everyone knows someone with an addiction or occasional habit, just about. If you let that person or your own usage affect your life, either creatively or otherwise, you eventually will pay the price in some way.

Krk: The very best way to PRODUCE something creatively is to BE YOURSELF! I’ve tried numerous times to write something I think will please others, or will stand up to something someone else has done before, and although it’s fine and okay, it falls wayyyy short of what I create when it is for me, by me, and about me. Beatallica is a great example. My approach to it was to make something that I alone would think was funny and cool, and Tinker and I have such similar tastes and senses of humor that I figured he’d enjoy it just as much. But if I had come up with the idea, and tried to MAKE it something that would be enjoyed by a lot of people, it would have sucked ass. It would have had very little of that passion that I think your subconscious can pick up on in our recordings. Oh yeah, and another piece of advice, forget all that you’re taught in school in America, unless you’re lucky enough to have a few teachers that aren’t trying to turn you into a consumer.