Photo | facebook.com/ScottBiram
Band: Scott H. Biram
Date: Sunday, March 15 with doors at 7 p.m.
Venue: Alabama Music Box, 12 S. Conception St., alabamamusicbox.net
Tickets: Visit the venue’s website for more info
The Azalea City should prepare for a dose of fire and brimstone courtesy of the versatile Scott H. Biram. Twenty years ago, the self-professed “Dirty Old One Man Band” used his eclectic sound, lyrical prowess and electrifying live show to establish his place in the rich Texas music scene.
Biram’s trademark style is a potent cocktail of archaic country and blues filtered through a punk attitude, delivered with the sensibility of a preacher out to win every soul in the congregation. As far as his one-man-band setup, Biram will admit the decision was “better than a real job.” Biram will also confess it was not his original vision for this musical project, but he found it to be economically practical. However, he says being a one-man band has come with a few complications, which are outweighed by his unbridled artistic freedom.
“It’s all my fault,” he said. “I don’t get to dole out responsibilities to other people. I have to take care of it myself. These days, I have booking agents and management and labels working for me, so that helps a little bit. Usually, on the road it’s just me and maybe one other guy or two other guys. I feel like as a one-man band it’s easier for me to get my vision out there. I don’t have to OK it with anybody.”
Biram’s songs are filled with lyrical deliveries that can spontaneously explode into a charismatic musical sermon that delivers messages of sin and heartbreak. When Lagniappe spoke with Biram, he had just penned a “choir gospel song” called “On the Pentecost,” which he plans to record in the near future. These influences did not spawn from a strict religious upbringing.
Biram’s love for “old-time” sounds has acted a muse for his own tunes. He says he spent his 20s listening to early sounds of gospel, bluegrass and blues, which mingled with his experience in the punk-rock world. He cites Lead Belly as his inspiration for breaking out into sermon-like stories in the middle of some of his tunes.
“[Lead Belly will] kinda tell a story about what he’s about to sing about at the beginning of a song or in the middle of a song, and he just hollers it out,” Biram said. “‘This song’s about so-and-so and they did this and that,’ you know? I’m not a hugely religious person, but I have a great love for old-time gospel music.”
Biram’s love for old-school gospel sounds has resulted in the release of “Sold Out to The Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by The Rev. Scott H. Biram.” With the exception of one song, he says the contents of this album were recorded before his signing with Bloodshot Records. In those days, Biram released his albums on his label, KnuckleSandwich Records. He says the decision to release this album was the sole idea of Bloodshot. However, Biram admits it was a good idea, especially since he was ordained just a few years ago. He also describes this album as a “good, entry-level Scott H. Biram release.”
“It’s a good showcase of my energy and my attitude,” Biram said. “It doesn’t necessarily touch on my rock songs or my other genres, but I think within all the songs that are included on the record, it’s a pretty good showcase of my attitude and the energy I exude when I’m recording and playing my songs.”
This album sets the tone as it literally tunes into Biram racing into “Get Me Religion (Preachin’ the Blues).” “When I Die” takes a turn into a backwoods church with its slow, rhythmic stomp before revival ensues with a pure delivery of “John the Revelator.” Biram conjures evangelist Marjoe Gortner with his sermon leading into “Been Down Too Long.” Most of the songs found on this album are pulled straight from the tents and pews of the past.
“I See the Light/What’s His Name” is the album’s bright standout, pulled from the pits of hell before arriving in salvation’s glory. This track also includes an unforgettable side road into one of his best sermons. Biram says just about every gospel song he has ever recorded is on here, with the exception of one. However, this track’s exclusion leaves the door open for future possibilities.
“I accidentally left off this one song called ‘Only Jesus,’ which is a cover from some friends of mine, The Weary Boys,” Biram said. “I wrote a verse on that song too. It slipped through the cracks and didn’t get put on there. I’ll keep writing gospel songs in between my heavy metal songs and blues songs. Who knows, there might be a gospel compilation volume two.”
In the 20 years since these songs were recorded, Biram says his musical ideologies have not shifted. He says he has definitely grown behind the scenes. Biram says he has become more business savvy over the years. He also says his obsession with studio production has increased with each passing year. Biram says he is constantly reading books on recording techniques. This knowledge must have come in hand with the recording of his upcoming album, “Fever Dreams,” which will celebrate a May release. As far as what his fans can expect from this album, Biram says they might have a different experience hearing the songs in a live setting compared to the studio versions.
“Some of this stuff, the live versions are going to be different than the recorded versions, just because it’s not really possible for me to do them on stage the way that I recorded them,” Biram said. “I think a lot of the time with my music, the lyrics are the most important part of them. I think that if I’m singing the lyrics, and they’re hearing the words, then it’s doing its job.”
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