Legendary rock bassist Chuck Garric cut his teeth in the business playing with a diverse array of chart-topping acts ranging from L.A. Guns to Dio. His devotion to the music he loves paid off in spades in 2002, when he landed a spot as the bassist for rock legend Alice Cooper. While some musicians would be content to sit back and enjoy the ride, that’s not Chuck Garric’s style. In 2012, he joined forces with guitarist Brother Latham to sow the seeds of an ambitious new project. Together, they creatde a live, raw power, rock & roll band that let them indulge their influences and imagery that shaped their collective musical background. It wasn’t long before a potent mix of heavy riffs, driving bass and melodic choruses bubbled to the surface and Beastö Blancö was born! Their debut release “Live Fast Die Loud” (2013), as well as their successful 2016 self-titled sophomore release, soon captured the hearts and minds of rock fans around the globe.
In 2018, Beastö Blancö furthers their quest for world domination with a captivating live release via Rat Pak Records. “Live From Berlin” was recorded at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany during the 2016 sold-out Böhse Onkelz tour. The release features songs from their debut release “Live Fast Die Loud” (2013) as well as their successful 2016 self-titled sophomore release “Beasto Blanco.” Front-man Chuck Garric said, “It was an honor to be invited to tour with the legendary Bohse Onkelz. Every show was sold out, every night a feast of rock ‘n’ roll. The music was loud, the crowd was louder! Berlin was a special night and we want to invite you to the party!” Calico Cooper added, “Beasto is a band that’s driven by the crowd. The more they scream for it the more we give it and Berlin was howling, it was an electric show!” Guitarist Brother Latham continued, “Blood, and sweat, it makes for any great story …this one, for sure, will be written in the books. Berlin knocked us up beyond our wildest potential, living up to our motto: ‘Live fast die loud!’”
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Chuck Garric to discuss Beastö Blancö. In the interview, Garric discusses the formation of the band, its creative evolution, the songwriting process for their forthcoming third studio album and much more.
You lived the better part of your life playing the music you love. When did you catch the bug?
Good question! My dad was a big fan of outlaw country. He played the banjo and bluegrass music. I grew up loving music. I had older brothers who would come home and would turn me on to bands like Queen, Peter Frampton, AC/DC and things like that. So, I caught the bug at an early age and I knew I wanted to play music. When I was in school at an early age, in elementary school, I took the trumpet as my first instrument. I loved it! I loved playing the instrument, playing music and making music. It wasn’t until later on, in my early teens, that I had some neighbors who could play their instruments really well. They played guitar and drums. They wanted to start a band, so the only thing they were missing was a bass player. I worked, saved my money and did what I had to do to purchase a bass. I did, and I learned to play it. Along the way, I started discovering more and more different bands and players who influenced me as my journey progressed.
What influences shaped the artist we see today?
John Deacon of Queen was a huge influence on me, along with Cliff Williams from AC/DC. I love his bass playing. People have a tendency to think it’s really super easy. It’s easy to say that but when you got to learn some of that stuff, there is some really intricate, nice moving bass lines. I love that! Obviously, Bob Daisley, was another big influence on me with all of the Ozzy [Osbourne] material. Then you have Phil Lynott, Paul McCartney and guys like that who were geniuses at what they did. I was more of a fan of bands. I brought up John Deacon of Queen and while I loved his bass playing, I loved the band as well. I brought up Cliff Williams because I loved his bass playing but I LOVED that band with Bon Scott! I still do to this day and I listen to an old AC/DC record at least once a week. I loved Lemmy from Motorhead because I loved Motorhead. The energy and rawness of that band changed me. It wasn’t necessarily his bass playing but his vibe and what he brought to rock ‘n’ roll is undeniable. I was a product of rock ‘n’ roll, what it did for me and how it made me feel.
Has your perception of what rock ‘n’ roll means changed throughout the years?
It hasn’t really changed much. I’m still that guy. I still love it, listen to it, find myself trying to discover new music and I do. I love a lot of new music but, at the same time, I always go back to what I’m comfortable with and try to find bands from the old days. For example, bands from the ‘70s that might hit me differently now than they did when I was a kid. My ears are a little bit more tuned now and I’m listening differently than I used to listen. Rock ‘n’ roll has changed for me. I know that it may be a little bit different on the industry side of things … well, a lot different actually. You hear people talking about it all the time. Records are selling the way that they used to and rock, specifically, isn’t selling the way that it used to, and I believe that. I definitely do notice that but, at the same time, my approach has never changed. I’m not going to do anything that is so far in the outfield that it’s not considered rock ‘n’ roll anymore. I’m going to do what feels good to me and feels good to the band. Somehow we will find a way to make it come across, whether it’s in the studio, through a live record or through a live show. It’s just what we all know and what we love to do! It’s funny when you get in a room with people like that because you don’t have to tell people what to do and it just naturally comes out. That’s the thing I love most about Beastö Blancö. When you see us, you will see it’s a theatrical show and there are a lot of moving parts but if you come two nights in a row, you will notice some things that are different. We try not to choreograph it or set it all up the same way. It has its own freedom and movement; each night is different.
For people who may be discovering the band, how did Beastö Blancö form?
Ya know, I’m a songwriter and Brother Latham and I’ve written a lot of songs together over the years. We found ourselves with a collection of songs which were just sitting there. We had talked about forming a band together over the years and what it might sound like. We would look at three or four songs and say, “What would this be like?” We also talked about our influences and stuff like that. Finally, we just gave it a go! In 2012, we just decided we were going to put out a record and see what happens. Once we started to record a couple of songs, we came up with a name and concept. We realized that this thing could grow wings and take off, as long as we kept pursuing it. We brought in Calico Cooper to help add a different dynamic to the band; theatrically and vocally. She’s an incredible singer, an amazing person and one of the best performers I’ve ever seen on stage. She adds a huge dynamic to this band. We knew we had a lot of things that would make us viable and entertaining for people to take a listen to. It wasn’t until we started doing some of the tours over in Europe and in The States that we realized that the people really were getting this thing. It’s been an incredible journey and one I know is just beginning. We’re having a great time doing it right now!
Has your vision for Beastö Blancö changed since its inception?
Yeah, it has changed and it’s forever changing. I try not to just get stuck in one thing. You will hear a growth from the band over the course of the first record to the second record. When you create a show, as a lot of bands will attest, you want to be able to have ups, downs, movements, emotions and maybe even have the songs tell a story. That holds true whether you are a theatrical band or not; you want to be able to tell a story through your music. That happens not only by having different sounding songs but through different tempos, song lengths, etc. You will hear that approach on our second record versus our first record. The first record is very straight ahead. With the second record, we had a couple of songs that we slowed down a little bit and had different grooves because we wanted to add to our show and our set. We wanted it to have a movement and a feeling to it. That’s something we weren’t necessarily thinking of in 2012. We were just thinking about going out and ripping people’s faces off with this fast, aggressive music! We had a purpose! We still want to rip people’s faces off but, at the same time, we are growing as artists and we’re able to do that in a way that’s very musical. We are about to head out on the Monsters of Rock tour and we’re always coming up with new ideas and things we can do to change and add to our show to make it better. We’re doing that! We’re growing as Beastö Blancö. We’re forever growing and forever changing. We’ll continue to do that for the life-span of this band. I think it’s very important and very entertaining to the fans as well.
Beastö Blancö has a new live record, “Live From Berlin.” Many bands put out live records with mixed results. However, this album delivers when it comes to energy. How did it come together and was difficult to pull off?
This was my first live record, so I don’t know how difficult it is. I found that once we opened up the session and realized what we had, we heard the energy. The energy already existed in the live performance. We had no idea that we were being recorded to be honest with you. We were on tour with Böhse Onkelz, which is one of the biggest German bands. They’ve been around since the ‘80s and they still sell out arenas wherever they go throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland and more. They’re a very popular band. We were very fortunate that the front-of-house engineer decided to record it. Böhse Onkelz were recording their live record and he tracked a couple of shows for us. He pretty much just handed me the sessions and said, “Hey man, I recorded last night’s show. Take a listen and let me know what you think.” On there were four shows and we couldn’t believe what we were hearing! Everything sounded really good and we picked the second night in Berlin as our go-to. It had a great energy. There was a great energy from the band and extremely great energy from the crowd. I think part of it might have had to do with the fact that we didn’t know. Maybe that helped a little bit. Maybe we were a little bit more free when we were up there on stage, as opposed to putting your head down and making sure you are performing everything exactly perfect. We just let it out and did our thing and that might of helped a lot with the energy. We’re a band that’s full of energy, rawness and power. It’s something that comes out in our music and it’s a natural thing. It’s not something we have to search for. It’s not something we have to summon; it exists in our music.
Where do you see Beastö Blancö headed in the future — both short and long term?
I have a busy schedule, but I fit in time for it. We are in the studio right now, as we speak. We’ve got half the third studio record done and we’re working on finishing it. I’ve got a great group of people around me and a fantastic producer in Ryan Greene. Everybody is working when I’m not around, which means work is still getting done and things are being completed. We will have a third studio record to release this year. I just try to take advantage of everything that’s happening and when I do have downtime I try to take advantage of it. As far as Beastö goes, we’re going to keep on doing this until either we can’t, or they just stop coming. Right now, it’s growing and only getting bigger. We’re on this wave with the rest of the Beastö Blancö fans out there!
Since you’re in the studio, let’s talk about your songwriting process. How have things changed and stayed the same over the years?
We kind of have a similar process to the first record with this third record. We sit around and share riffs, song ideas, concepts to songs and discuss what we want the record to sound like. Like I mentioned earlier, we also talk about what would be cool to add to the set and what type of groove is missing from our show that could really help push the set along. We approach it that way. I do a lot of work here in my home studio in Nashville, Tennessee. I will send riffs back and forth to Brother Latham, who’s in Los Angeles. We start bouncing ideas and get together. My wife, Lindsay Garric, is a fantastic lyricist and writer. Nobody understands the Beast better than her and she can tell a story like nobody I’ve ever met before. She’s great with lyrics and helps us stay on track with that, so it’s a real team effort. I submit everything to our producer Ryan Greene, who then puts his own little twist on it, changes things up a little bit and does what he’s supposed to do! As long as everybody does their job, then you end up with a great quality song at the end of it!
You have an amazing body of work and the future looks bright for Beastö Blancö. What have you learned from the experience?
Yeah, man. Thank you. I think I’ve really learned to listen, calm down when I’m playing and just let it out to be more free. I don’t try to control everything that’s happening. I think it’s been really important for me to just let the music take over, let the show take over and let what’s going to happen, happen. There are a lot of moving parts to Beastö and it could easily be one of those things where it could get kind of distracting on stage, but I’ve let it become part of the show. I’ve learned a lot of that from Alice [Cooper]. I’ve watched him have things so right and wrong and his reaction to it as well. It’s always part of the show. It’s a live show, so whatever happens is happening live, so we just roll with it. I’ve learned that, as well as to trust my instincts and gut feeling on what’s working and what’s not working or what sounds right and what doesn’t. I also surround myself with people that I trust where they can give me their honest opinion. At the end of the day, when we go back and listen to what we created, we all feel that it’s the best music we are making at that time. I don’t have anybody in there that I feel is in it for any other reason than to make great music!
What are the biggest challenges you faced with Beastö Blancö?
I think we’ve been fortunate to have a guy by the name of Nicolas Kostadimas, a booking agent in Europe, be behind us the entire time. He’s really stuck his neck out to book tours and build the brand for us. The biggest hurdle for any band is to get out there and promote your music and the only way for you to promote your music is for people to see you live. The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is that we’ve managed to get through these first few years of touring over in Europe and The United States and survive. We’ve come out okay, which is great because a lot of those things can put a beating on bands. There are a lot of tours where you’re not getting paid enough money to survive and those things are difficult for young bands. That’s something I’m very proud of. It’s one of those things you visualize as the smoke beginning to clear and you see the band walking through the smoke and fire — That’s Beastö Blancö! We’ve managed to come through all of that in one piece with the same brothers and sisters getting along for the sole purpose of making music. Once you clear those hurdles, there is nothing that can really stop you at that point.
You carved out quite a career in rock ‘n’ roll. What are the keys to longevity?
When I first got my break with Ronnie James Dio, it was just circumstantial. Obviously, when I got the phone call, I made sure I was prepared to be the best I could possibly be musically. I made sure I knew the songs and made sure I went in there and had a good audition. I knew that way I could give myself a chance. Then some of it has to do with luck. I didn’t realize when I joined Alice Cooper that I was going to be in the band for 15 years. I honestly didn’t. I thought it would last a couple of years, but I didn’t know how long he was going to go or what was going to happen in his career. It’s been 15 going on 16 years now and there’s still many more years to come. I think it’s finding yourself and finding out what you are willing to fight for and what you’re not. It also has a lot to do with being a team player and being able to shape, twist and bend. That has been my main goal. Being a bass player, you just do your part. You do your job regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong. You may not love the song you’re playing if you aren’t in your own band, but you still have to perform it right. I’ve had a really great opportunity working with Alice [Cooper] and Shep [Gordon] to backup guys like Steven Tyler, Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers and everyone from Weird Al to Sarah McLachlan to Cheap Trick to Ted Nugent. I’ve had the opportunity to back all those people up on bass for charity events and other things we have done. None of that would have happened without Alice Cooper and their belief in me as a musician and as a person who will be able to step up to the plate and play whatever the situation calls for. You’ve got to be able to play your instrument and do your homework to make sure everybody has a good time. I would say to anybody that once you get the opportunity, make the best of it. Learn your part, learn it live and in the studio, learn your vocals and show up the gig and be ready to go. Don’t be the one person that’s slowing anybody up, man. Just do your part and be ready for whatever is next. Also, don’t let your ego get in the way and ruin something for you because you think you’re something that you’re not or wanting something that’s just not possible.
As we discussed, you’re a busy man between your gig with Alice Cooper and the hard work you put into Beastö Blancö. However, it’d be foolish not to ask if there is other musical ground you want to explore.
I don’t know if I have time, man! [laughs] Being a songwriter and living here in Nashville, you never know what you’re going to come up with or what type of music you might pop out. I don’t know, maybe one day I will do a bizarro studio solo record that would allow me to get some of the other songs I have on my hard drive out there for the rest of the world to listen to. Maybe I would do something like that; something out of left field that not everybody would be expecting from Chuck Garric, ya know.
The future looks bright for you and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes you. We’ll be out spreading the word.
Thank you, man. You’re the best. It’s people like you that we appreciate and are extremely grateful for. Obviously, that’s the whole reason Beastö is in the position we are because of dedicated people from our label, booking agents, band members and people like yourself. We appreciate it and we couldn’t do it without you, so thank you so much!
For the latest news and dates for Beasto Blanco, visit the band’s official website at www.beastoblanco.com. Beasto Blanco’s ‘Live From Berlin’ is available now, in a variety of bundles and formats, via Rat Pack Records!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.