Bullets and Octane Interview – Issue 1

March 9, 2009 | By:

Well, here I am walking towards Bradford’s top music venue, Rio’s to interview Gene Louis From Bullets and Octane. With a reputation of drinking, fast riffs and even faster women the band have certainly made a name for themselves, sometimes to the critics dislike but certainly to the bands increase in profile. I arrive and speak to Ben their manager and next thing I’m upstairs on pink-purple sofas taking to one of the most charismatic looking rockers of the new breed, Gene. So what would any good host do? Offer a beer of course! We sit down and get straight to the interview with beer in hand.

DM: Well Gene thanks for joining me lets get straight to it, how much fun was it making the album?

GL:It was actually quite scary, this was the first on a major label and you want to be up front and say ‘this is what you want to do’ but you need the backup from the team so they will help. It’s a new experience, for me and it’s a weird experience as I don’t like being in the studio, I prefer playing live. It got to the point where I told Page Hamilton from Helmet, who produced the album, that I needed to drink and I was drinking a whole bottle of Jaegermeister a night. I did that for a week and was swaying but then I had to stop that because it wasn’t good. It was great working with Page as he changed the music in the nineties and he took us outside of what we were used to. It gave us a new angle. He’d go off and play a Stevie wonder song as he would hear something in our music that connected with it, he’d then come back and say “hey lets try this” and it worked so well.

DM: What was your favourite track off the album?

GL: That’s difficult to say a favourite song as its more what happened during the making of the song that sticks with us. ‘Caving in’ was really fun, we took a break a break in the middle of making the record to do a mini tour with Flogging Molly and then we came back in with fresh ears and changed some things around. We never wrote something in that way before where we all contributed together and went to our own studio and recorded it, the outcome became a totally fresh take on the song. Another problem was working on ‘Signed in alcohol’ as ee had the deadline upon us like the next day and we decided we wanted to push out one more track and so James came up with an idea and we sat, wrote and recorded the song in 2 hours. So we have songs on the album that take ages to write and some like that which took 2 hours!

At that point we were interrupted by sound checking and so spent another few minutes drinking more beer!

DM: The album is going down well live isn’t it?

GL: Coming over to the UK was great, the guys have seen our work online and have both the albums and they knew the words better than I do. So yeah the album is going down well, especially over here in the UK.

DM: So what’s next for Bullets and Octane?

GL: We go back to the US for a few weeks and tour there and then straight back over to touring with Stone Sour so there’s no break which is great but f***! It’s tough sometimes but I love it!. Then back to the states to do a Halloween date in our home town. Then we go out and tour over Christmas with Papa Roach which is great also!.

DM: Tell me about the background of Bullets and Octane.

GL: It started off in 1998 in California and we were a recording band where we didn’t actually have a band line up we just recorded. Ty, our drummer, was touring about with Guttermouth and filling in for The Vandals Then we moved out to Orange County where we tried out a few people and we got a new guitarist in who had a good look, good gear etc, and we just enjoyed playing rock ‘n’ roll. Back then it was all about ska and if you didn’t have a trombone then no-one wanted to hire you to play, but rock is coming back now which is great. We took our time and went from there really. We reached a point where we started to think we needed a serious name and this guitar guy said ‘Why not Bullets and Octane’ we were like ‘yeah that’s cool’. Little did we know he was a drug dealer and he went off to Vegas to do a deal and no-one saw him again, not his family or anything? We have no idea what happened to him whether he left the country or died or something or what but the name stuck, even if he didn’t! (laughs) We kept going and went through a few different people but we were a weird type of band. The guys who played with us weren’t really in our way of thinking and over time people come and people go, you know. James came in right before making this record and that was great. We worked with Gilby Clarke on our first album which was really cool since we were massive Guns ‘n’ Roses fans. We actually used the same Vox amp on our record as the one he used in Don’t Cry which was amazing. After James joined we realised that this was what we were missing in terms of the band and the song writing because he was adding in a whole new level that we hadn’t had before, next thing we know we have got songs we never had before and I’m now even excited about the next record coming out all though we have only just finished this one!

DM: When was your big break? What happened to get you signed to the major labels?

GL: We started taking it more seriously and putting ourselves out there. We started making friends on tour and getting other tours because of that. There are bands out there who don’t really appreciate that it takes a lot of work and making of friends sometimes and just want to go from 1 to 1000 overnight. It takes a lot of steps and this is why a lot of bands take us out on tours, they realise we’re great guys doing it right and put in a lot of hard work. The tours keep getting better and making more friends. The main thing when we noticed things were getting bigger was when we came over here, the US kids get it but its slow and if you’re not on the radio ever 5 seconds they forget about you real quick. It’s a microwavable industry over there, where as over here it’s great. We have been over here twice and the reaction were getting is absolutely great so its definitely developing here which is great.

DM: A lot of people say they prefer the UK fans do you?

GL: We don’t really like to compare the two as they’re different. Over here people like to drink and have fun which is definitely the vibe we like to have on tour and over there if anyone has more than 4 beers in a week there’s this little thing called alcoholism so out there it’s more ‘emo’ ‘vegan straight edge’ thing going on who look at you weird for wearing leather. Not to discredit the fans over there that do love our music but it’s a strange time over there right now. S*** changes every week, our bassist while over there recorded some bands to make money for our band and one summer its all punk and blink 182 etc then the next summer its ‘emo’ and stuff and then the next year its ‘hardcore emo’ s*** and in California its always the same, people are like clones wearing the same s*** and its such a cookie cutter vibe, so its great to get over here and see people as individuals loving our music and rock and roll. They have an appreciation for new music and don’t care what you look like or sound like as long as they love it.

DM: What tips can you give to bands starting out or wanting to take the next step?

GL: The one thing I always say to bands is look at the time you’ve wasted. The next bands are better than you and better looking. Stay on top of the game, don’t get complacent from a good gig or tour. I always say pick 3 things from different bands you like, the rhythm section the drum beats, the look, whatever and stay away from style and what’s hot today as you will become old real quick. Make it your own, look at bands like Flogging Molly, I guarantee a look like that back when they started wouldn’t have worked but that’s what makes them so unique and they took things from others and made it their own. Mandolins etc and their weird style of music it just worked and still works now.

DM: Let’s talk about the wet t-shirt thing and why people have been boycotting interviewing you.

GL: The wet t-shirt thing was funny because it was such a small thing, we were on the road and thought ‘hell why not’. When you tour monotonously you need something like this. It’s the same as businessmen who wear a suit all day but then hold meetings in hooters to unwind and relax. We just needed something to unwind and it wasn’t even like we came up with it people were coming to us with these ideas and we liked them. It goes back to the ‘emo’ ‘vegan’ thing and they all started complaining saying ‘these people have feelings too’ and when a guy says he doesn’t like to look at a set of boobs in a wet t-shirt its getting a little gay then! It just blows up and it just proves why rock ‘n’ roll started to die and rap came in the 90’s and took away the danger of any type of music like us. Raps the music your parents don’t want you to listen to and now you can go out eat some carrots and avoid meat and everyone’s safe now. We take this stuff and use it because as a band we have had some hard times and when cr** like this comes around it gives us more determination to go out and do what we do. It was funny to watch this all unfold and see people get upset and we loved it and used it more. When people start to take the pi** its funny, at the end of the day we’re musicians and we enjoy what we do but we wonder how sad it is when all people have to write about is this. It just helps raise our profile and that’s the opposite of what they want.

DM: What can people expect from you live? What will make them come see you play?

GL: The way it’s always been with us that’s always worked is we like to have a bunch of drinks and have fun. Crowd interaction is top priority and before and afterwards we go out, do shots and chat to the crowd. Pick people out and ask them if they’re going to be in the pit and say to them ‘you’re in charges of the pit man! Make me proud!’ No show is the same and, you know, maybe some times going out into the crowd with the monitor and sing from there for the whole set is something ill do just to be crazy and different every time.

DM: Thank you for the time and the beer man! Anything you’d like to say finally?

GL: Be looking out next year for another great record and also tell everyone thank you for your support and keeping us afloat and keep coming to see us and telling your friends. Look out for us on tours soon in the UK.

The only thing left for me to do was photograph and drink the greater part of a bottle of Jaegermeister with Gene, James, TY and Brent!

Check out their album ‘In the mouth of the Young’ released earlier this year by Sony – BMG’s RCA Records. http://www.bullets-and-octane.com