Betty StressHARD ROCK/HEAVY METAL winners Betty Stress, by guitarist Craig Leach's reckoning, have done some serious evolving in their four-and-a-half years of existence.
"Our early songs were little punk ditties about drinking beer, but we've developed into a real artistic band," says Leach. "And we're in the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock category, but I think people have a real stigmatized view of what that means, too, either death metal rockers going way too fast, or fluff-headed Motley Crue stuff. We're more like a Rage Against The Machine, or Dead Kennedys/Lard, that real industrial, heavy feel with a lot of sarcasm behind it."
No argument there, as a quick scan of recent Betty Stress demo "Oh Boy" reveals: the funk-edged bassline, syncopated beat, neopsychedelic guitar break and pointedly political lyrics all wind together into a taut, tense ball of maximum heaviosity. Apparently a formula connects with the fans, too; Betty Stress is one of Tucson's most popular and best-selling combos.
The lineup: Leach, guitar; Andrew Dunn, bass; Andrew Bleckov, vocals; Jim Pavett, drums.
Betty Stress initially recorded and released a full-length, self-titled cassette in '91 that ultimately sold over 400 copies locally; they followed it up with another well-received tape, Lounging. Their fan base was strong enough last year to garner a TAMMIES runner-up award, so this year's place in the winners' circle was no surprise to area scene watchers.
Appearances on various CD compilations, including two from Los Angeles' Monkeyland Records as well as the Tucson sampler Fish Sauce (Gouramie), have also raised the band's profile beyond the Old Pueblo's city limits signs. (Leach: "The Monkeyland thing has gotten us some airplay in some strange places. And our distributor reported that we actually sold some of our cassettes in Japan, England and South America!") The band hits the road as frequently as possible, having developed solid followings in San Diego and Colorado.
Betty Stress is constantly recording--drummer Pavett owns a studio, which, Leach points out, is a distinct advantage for the band.
"Once we write a song, we lay basic tracks, do a rough mix, listen to it. We get to analyze it, think about it, for months, and with a fresh perspective. Right now we're getting together enough material to do a CD, ten or 14 songs. Obviously we'd like to get someone to pay for it, but if worse comes to worse we'll do it ourselves.
"We write really good, heavy songs with hooks, and I think we're good enough to sell a lot of records. That's why you play music --because you want people to hear your music. And if ten million people want to buy my album so I can tour the world and not work a day job, that's fantastic."
Born & Bred
RUNNERS-UP BORN & BRED brings to the table a wealth of influences both classic (Zeppelin, Hendrix, Ozzy) and contemporary (Queensryche, Dream Theater).
A fiery rocker like "Born & Bred," for example, takes a time-honored Bo Diddley beat then lays out slashing chords and squalling upper-neck leads in the finest Eddie Van Halen tradition. And the dynamic changes and emotional textures of "My Medication" reveal the songwriting imagination of a young band that's comfortable visiting both vintage blues and modern power ballad territories. The band simply says, "We believe in our music, that it is special."
The Born & Bred creative nucleus of Dave Burdick (lead vocals, bass), Milton Cox (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Chris J. Contreras (drums) has been together for seveal years. With the recent addition of Robby Lochner (lead guitar), the band is now in the process of finishing up recording sessions. A CD is slated for release in the near future.
© 1995 Tucson Weekly