There was a time – not too long ago – when real rock bands were riding the mainstream and on the charts. You could turn on the radio and hear electric guitars, loud, distorted, and in command, conjuring dreams, both sexy and dangerous. Nowadays, however, it seems if you catch the sound of a guitar on the radio, it’s most likely acoustic and very likely to be accompanied by the rustic, folksy tones of a banjo. This isn’t to say that type of music is without merit. But it is definitively without the soul of rock ‘n’ roll.
Thankfully, as Neil Young correctly assured us back in 1979, as drum machines and synthesizers began to saturate the landscape, “rock and roll can never die.” Rather, it just goes underground for awhile, regains its strength and eventually comes back to the surface with a vengeance. Today, as rock lies mostly dormant, we can keep our ears to the ground and listen for signs of life and signals of its inevitable rebirth. Rock fans in New Jersey, however, are getting an advance listen to the next wave via power trio the Battery Electric who’ve been melting faces since 2012 with their own riff-tastic blend of hard rock, blues, and soul. Or, as the band describes themselves, “if Black Sabbath played Motown tunes with the political flare of the MC5 and the sexuality of the Rolling Stones.”
“Sure,” you’re thinking. “Typical big talk from a young rock band.” But consider this: the boys in the Battery Electric are a legitimately “award-winning” act, taking home quite a haul at the most recent Asbury Music Awards. The Battery Electric were the victors in three categories: “Top Rock Band,” “Top Bassist,” and “Song of the Year” for “Shock Hazard” from their Weaving Spiders LP (Little Dickman Records) which was produced by the Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf. Now, the future is wide open for the band who are looking forward to a busy 2014. Pop-Break was able to ask the band a few questions about guitars, girls, and the present state of music.
Pop-Break: How did it feel to be recognized at the Asbury Music Awards?
Ron Santee (vocals): We were honored to be recognized by our local community of great artists and musicians. We never get nervous on stage, yet at this event we really cared about the audience and our peers. Community is everything and that was our hometown shindig. It felt good, baby.
PB: Given the current state of popular music, do you feel like you’re carrying the torch for the rock ‘n’ roll tradition?
RS: As far as carrying the torch of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s kind of easy given the state of mainstream rock. We are just trying to boogie like how Chuck Berry and Little Richard showed us how!
PB: Where do you think music is headed?
RS: I’m not sure where music is headed. Hopefully it heads back to a time when people who actually played physical instruments were in the game, mainstream wise. Seeing the Grammys this year, as a rock ‘n’ roll lover, we got hosed. They cut off Queens of the Stone Age, man! I mean come on! That’s all I gotta say about that.
PB: What was it like working with Pete “The Pete” Steinkopf on Weaving Spiders? What did he bring to the sessions?
Brent Bergholm (guitars): Working with Pete was awesome. It was a very relaxed and creative session. We made some jokes, ate some pizza, and recorded a badass record. I really enjoyed working with him. He has a great subtle approach. He doesn’t try and change the original idea of the song like some producers. He gives great suggestions and ideas that really make the tune pop out. Can’t wait to record with him again.
PB: You’re working on an animated music video for “Dead Man’s Truck.” Could you tell us about the song and how the video project came about?
BB: We were all having a meeting at Little Dick Man Headquarters discussing the state of the world. We were brainstorming about music videos and Mike Richieson (LDM’s art department and professor at Monmouth University) suggested we try an animated music video. We all thought that “Dead Man’s Trunk” would be the perfect song because the lyrics are very visual. The song is about a serial killer with a dead body in his trunk entangled in a police chase in the Nevada desert. The video basically follows the story of the lyrics just with a more humorous twist. Alex came up with most of the concept and drew all the characters. Mike worked on the animation with one of his students, Pablo. The three of them worked really well together and the end result came out great. Super excited to put it out!
PB: Where can fans expect to see the Battery Electric on the road this year? Will you be touring new markets?
BB: We will be banging the pavement in our usual haunts. We wanna take New York, Asbury Park, and Philadelphia by storm! I am excited to say that we will be doing a two-week tour down to SXSW and back. Gonna hit the heart land of America. It’s gonna be our first tour as a band. Me, John, and Ron have toured a bunch in other bands but I am really excited to go out with this group of guys. We are gonna get to Nashville, New Orleans, Austin, Dallas, and… still figuring out the rest. Definitely the Carolinas. I hope we all survive so we can book some more tours for the summer. I really enjoy this band, it would be a shame if we all didn’t make it back home.
PB: There’s a good amount of sexuality – both implicit and explicit – in your music. What would you say the ratio is of women to men at a typical show? And how wild do the crowds get?
RS: We like our crowds dancing. If there’s a god, he put men and woman on this great planet to dance and fuck in the streets, baby. That being said we have all the beautiful sexy babies, men and women, at our shows
The Battery Electric’s upcoming gigs include:
Mon 3/10: Foobar, Nashville, TN
Tues 3/11: Devils Den, New Orleans, LA
Thurs 3/13: The Carousel Lounge, Austin, TX
Fri 3/14: Trailer Space Records , Austin, TX
Fri 3/14: The Ghostlight, Austin, TX
Sat 3/15: The Red Shed Tavern, Austin, TX