Since the late 1990s Wisconsin has had an upsurge in heavy and extreme metal bands, which has continued through to 2012 where we find Milwaukee’s Black Saints, a formidable mix of hot dirty rock, ready to take on America and abroad. They’ve only been together since 2009 but lead vocalist Drew H., guitarists, Blackie Bishop, Tony Saint, bassist BB Blackheart and drummer Benny Sinn feel very strongly about their brand of music and spoke about how they came to play rock n’ roll Black Saints style.
“BB and I were in a band before the Black Saints and we ended up doing a show with Drew and his other band,” says Bishop, “we were digging his style, you know vocal wise, his persona and how he was onstage…I was like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool to start up a straight ahead rock band with him’ cause I’ve always liked that genre of music. So we ended up getting in touch with him and one thing led to another and we started writing songs with each other.”
“Yeah, it was a big deal for us ’cause rock music at the time, and this is going back a couple of years; there was nothing out there that was moving us,” states Blackheart, “nothing was getting us going and we wanted to hear a return to rock and roll where there was musicianship and honest song writing going on. We wanted to do something different; take it back a little bit.”
As far as the Black Saints are concerned, taking rock n’ roll back a bit is more about getting back to each of their rock roots, which shaped and formed who they are as musicians today. “For me, I like the sound of the 80’s. You know, Motley Crue, early Aerosmith, from the 70’s and G n’R,” says Drew H, “because those guys had a real attitude…it wasn’t fake on stage it was real it was just about the music. Everybody here has a little different style of music that they listen to; that they like and we bring it all together in a creative aspect that just flows into something…it makes what we’re doing…good.”
“What drives me to play the way I do,” says Bishop, “is that I listen to a lot of Deep Purple, a lot of Led Zeppelin, a lot of the late 60’s hard rock bands but I also too got a taste for George Clinton, Sly and the Family Stone…and the big movement in the eighties where you had like Prince and that produced funk style. There’s also Iggy Pop & the Stooges and The New York Dolls.”
“I probably come from one of the most varied backgrounds musically,” states Blackheart, “I’ve listened to all kinds of things throughout my life but definitely my heaviest influences are old metal. Old Metallica like goin’ way back; just very technical playing which leads to my appreciation of all things being tight, but then I also loved a lot of 80’s new wave synthesizers and drum machines. I love that locked tight rhythm and the vibe of certain tunes…they just got me…old New Order, Joy Division…you know, where bass lines were the focal point of the song. I had a whole career of doing nothing but production of electronic music…a lot of techno and a lot of house music. I did that for quite a number of years.”
“My musical background is basically metal drumming,” says Sinn, “my dad brought me up listening to The Beatles, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. And just like the rest of the band, I have a very varied background in what I listened to growing up.”
The band has been in the studio recording new music and is about to release another EP. “Yeah, we just went into the studio and tracked the song, Amends, with full band orchestration and it’s turning out amazing, “says Blackheart, “this is a song Blackie started…this is his baby and Drew really brought something special to it lyrically.”
“Yeah, and we just released the song, Capone,” says Bishop, “It was another song I put together. It was a song influenced by the South; I had been traveling a lot through the South here and I just started working with this riff and I was kind of close to the Bayou and feeling that energy and came up with this swamp voodoo type of style riff and again, a just very cool dark swamp vibe.”
“We’re working on a new record as I mentioned,” states Blackheart, “we’re gonna bang out another six-song EP that’s gonna be out early summer; it’s untitled as of yet but it’s gonna be six new tunes, and we’re gonna start touring regionally in support of the EP and summer is coming up and we’d like to hit the road, ya know…everything’s got to fall into place but that’s definitely the goal, to get out there and play for people, especially people who dig straight up rock and roll. We’d love to make it to the west coast if the right gig happens…we’ll get our asses out there…absolutely!”
With tour dates in support of their EP release, everything is gearing up just in time for a summer of Saints.