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| 17 March 2024 | Reply

Photo credit: Jed Williams

According to a recent press release: “Rock and Roll born in the Mountain Mud and the Desert Sun… Beastö Blancö was formed by Chuck Garric and Chris Latham. They set out to create a raw, powerful, rock ‘n’ roll band with a searing, theatrical live experience. Enter Calico Cooper, rock vixen and the spawn of Garric’s boss, legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper and a renegade German rhythm section and Beastö Blancö’s inimitable sound and image emerged. Blood, sweat, and gasoline are fueling Beastö Blancö’s explosive rock sound and captivating visuals. A band and an audience united in one inseparable union of musical thunder and sensational spectacle. Welcome to the world of Beastö Blancö. Whether illuminated in the spotlights of cavernous arenas or headlining packed theaters and clubs, the band’s mission is unwavering: To create an immersive experience where everyone is welcome to join an extended family whose support is unconditional and authentic.” I was able to jump on a Zoom with Chuck and Calico to discuss new music, videos, and more…

Chuck: Hey, Todd. How are you, man?

Todd: I’m well, man. How are you doing, Chuck?

Chuck: I’m well, thank you. Where are you located?

Todd: Part of the year I live in Florida and the other part I live in Michigan, but right now I am north of Tampa.

Chuck: Right on. Sounds good. Sounds good. I was just there for the bike week. It was really cool. A couple of my friends race those Outlaw motorcycles at Sons of Speed there. There’s Calico.

Calico: What’s up guys?

Todd: Calico, how are you doing?

Calico: Good, how are you?

Todd: I’m well, thank you.

Calico: Good. I’m learning so much about Zoom. I have it on my iPad and be all like today about things and I can’t figure it out. So here we are on the cell phone.

Todd: It’s how many years in and we’re all still struggling.

Calico: I’m on the major struggle bus.

Todd: I use it for business, and I still struggle occasionally.

Calico: Good. Makes me feel less alone.

Todd: Well, thank you both so much for taking time out. This is such a pleasure and honor for me because I’ve been fans of both you guys in different incarnations. As a fan of you guys individually and collectively, I appreciate the time.

Calico: Happy to talk to you.

Todd: So let’s talk about the exciting stuff. You guys have the “Run For Your Life” single. What can you tell us about this track that the listeners and the viewers, when they see the video, might not they grasp the first time they listened through or watch through the video? What can you tell us some of the backstory on?

Calico: Well, Chuck, tell him about the song. Tell him about… because when you hear “Run For Your Life,” you think run away, run away. But my esteemed colleague Chuck can explain.

Chuck: I think what people can expect from the song is a very thoughtful, melodic rock and roll song that has some really deep hooks. It’s very guitar driven, rock and roll with some wonderful combination of both Calico and I’s voice in there as well. So sonically, it’s just a lot of fun to listen to, but lyrically it’s wonderful as well. I think when you do think “Run For Your Life,” you think about, people will say, oh, run away, but we’re not singing about that. We’re singing “Run For Your Life” in a different way. So there’s a lyric in there, it says, ‘be the hunter, not the prey’ which I love, and a lot of people seem to resonate with. So what I’ve noticed from our listeners and from first time listeners as well are new to Beastö Blancö is they’re really loving this track. It seems to vibrate with a lot of people and then they get the big one two punch. They get the song and then they click on YouTube, and they get to see this band in action.

Todd: Can you tell us about the video? How did that come to life? Organically just listening to the lyrics, it makes sense, but you guys are always kind of over the top, but in such an amazing way you don’t do it in a hokey manner.

Calico: Thank you very much. They had to change my name at birth. It was originally Hokey and then they just changed it to Calico. But yeah, they were setting me up for success, I think. So for me, when I hear the video, I get inspired by if I hear a song over and over again and I just keep getting the same visual, even if it’s not ours. You listen to cool stuff like Dark Side of the Moon or whatever, and that was kind of an album where they encouraged your brain to just go and envision your own trip on it a little bit. So listening to “Run For Your Life,” I just kept picturing the idea of let’s put Beastö, who can as a group go anywhere. We’re such characters. You can put us under the ocean, you can put us on Planet Mars, you can put us anywhere. It’s sort of like the Guardians of the Galaxy, right? We’re going to sing the song, do the heavy trial, whatever. So I just pictured my character, Machine Girl going off on her own and the idea of how much stronger we are together as a part and kind of a play on ego. So get prepared to get actor schooled here. So the play on ego for me was like we’re stronger together. So if she goes off on her own and gets captured, the idea was they come to get her, help her, not necessarily save her, but they have to run for their lives before the ship explodes. It gave my character a chance to have a little bit of humanity where we’re running and then I stop because I see someone behind the trash cans, and I know the ship’s going to explode. So there’s this great moment that I love where I look back at them running away and then you watch me make the decision to run for someone else’s life. Even though my character’s not necessarily the sweetest cherry in the bunch, she throws the trash cans aside and she sees the girl and yanks her up. It’s not gentle and kind of like for me, the idea was it’s not always going to be a gentle hand that’s held out for you to be like, please get up. Get up, and we’re going to run for our lives here. I just loved how the story came together. So by the end, when I take my warrior makeup and I wipe it across her eye, it was this really intentionally touching moment, but I didn’t know it was going to have that much of an emotional impact on people. They keep writing me going, I just saw that video and the look on that girl’s face when you take basically your power and share it with her is stunning, stunning. I just thought the girl that played that part, Shelby, was unbelievable. Also got to give mega credit to C.O.P Records and Chuck and all the guys in the band because when I said, “Okay, we’re going to start on a spaceship,” none of them went, Calico get a life. They were just like, where do we show up? What time?

Photo credit: Victor Chalfont

Todd: Hey Chuck, how many times when Calico says, “I have an idea” do you think, oh man?

Chuck: Never. To be quite honest with you, and this is the truth… I think the one thing that we both share is the excitement for our ideas. We are very much a team when it comes to trying to create a product that we are both involved in in a way that we’re both heard, our ideas are tried. So when Calico comes to me and says, okay, check it out, I got the video idea already in my mind because I do, I trust her vision, I trust her concept. She’ll correct herself if there’s something there that she says, you know what? That’s not going to work. I’m going to change that. But never do I tell her, nah, I don’t know that’s not going to work or something. But we could have ideas. It’s just like when we’re in the studio writing together, there could be something that one of us sings or tries and we both kind of know. We’ll say, eh, that didn’t work. Let’s try it again. Or I’ll look at Calico and I go, what do you think? And she’ll go, that was rad. I loved it. I would keep it. Then maybe I need that little bit of a pat on the back. I try to make sure that she has that as well, not that she needs a pat on the back, but I think the biggest motivator for me when Beastö became this thing that I realized, holy shit, we’ve got this ball that’s just rolling down this hill man, and it is collecting a lot of cool along the way, was that the reason why I wanted to work with Calico so badly was because I wanted her ideas and I want her to be heard. It’s very important to me that those things come across.

Calico: I think also we’ve all been involved in a lot of other theatrical projects and bands and things like that. Sort of my awakening to it was the years of working from my dad where you got to remember the Alice Cooper show is a dynasty and there’s certain things that you can move and undulate or whatever, but there’s also some just you can’t touch them myself four or five years going, know what would be really cool? And not feeling like, oh, I don’t want to upset a horde of Alice fans by being like, what if the nurse wasn’t sexy? What if she was just wretched? What if? With all credit to him, my dad would say, let’s try it. Let’s try it. I was fully willing to take on the repercussions if a bunch of fans were like, no. So just him letting me speak into some seriously like Canon pieces in rock and roll, I was like, oh. It gave me the confidence to go, what if I had no boundaries? What if I created something and there were no parameters, and Chuck provided that for me with this thing. I always joke that I never wanted to be in a band. I think it’s not that. I think it’s that I didn’t know that I did, and I don’t want to be in just a rock band. The passion is really for the moving of an audience. Maybe that’s genetic, maybe it isn’t. But these guys have provided me a platform to sit up in the middle of the night and go, I got it, because math scientists, and then they go, “How much is that going to cost?” And I go, “Listen, hear me out, just hear me out.”

Todd: Is this truly a situation where you check the ego at the door and this is like you guys are all just even peers doesn’t matter, the pedigree doesn’t matter. Chuck, you’ve been around forever. So is this just something where you guys, you just dig being together as a group and want to move forward with something?

Chuck: I think the ego is so massive, to be quite honest with you it’s the opposite. I think to do what Beastö is doing, you got to have a bit of an ego. You got to have a chip on your shoulder, you got to have an I’ll show you type of attitude. That’s where I come from with it. Regarding my bandmates, the reason my ego is so over the top is because I’ve got this army of people next to me, in front of me, behind me. It’s like we’re all just one big unit moving forward. So I feel very confident knowing that those guys are on stage with me. Leaving the ego at the door for us is when Calico has an idea or Brother Latham has a guitar solo, we have an incredibly unique situation to where we are not going to parent each other. We’re going to let everybody contribute and feel part of something so their ego can grow into this thing to where they feel important and valued in this situation. So regardless of who wrote the song or whatever, I found that the guys and girls that are in this band are in it for all the right reasons to just make a killer product and give our fans, our loyal beast, our new listeners, something really interesting to listen to because if you know one thing about Beastö that there’s a lot of influences here. Everybody comes from different walks of life, have been in the music industry for this amount of time or maybe only this amount of time. It doesn’t really necessarily matter. For me, it’s about community. For me, it’s about having a band and people around us working for us that are a team. We’re going to go in this thing together, we will go into that burning building and I guarantee you we’re all coming out.

Calico: As far as ego goes, the person you’re talking to right now, this is my ego, this is like whatever. When I put on the dreads and the contacts and suit up, you’re actually seeing a less guarded version of me, a version of me that cares less about what they look like. You’re seeing more me there in that moment. So the ego is such a weird thing. It’s like this Beastö band and the machine girl character lets me kind of peel off my millennial mask and go, Hey, this is what lies beneath. It’s kind of unhinged.

Todd: I say it’s cool, quirky, and fun. Chuck, I was able to speak to you when you were putting the first album. How different is this process now? How different is the process and the procedure for Beastö to continue to grow and morph as time changes?

Chuck: Here’s the thing… it’s like I don’t know about the process. I don’t know about the plan. It’s one of those things where everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face. I love that. It’s one of my favorite sayings that Mike Tyson would say. I truly do believe that the process is the same as far as us creating music visuals that work for Beastö Blancö, but there’s not a blueprint that we go by. But there is definitely a meaning that it has for us. We know what’s best for us, meaning that way we know what’s best for our fans and for our music. So the process for us is just surrounding ourselves with people that will inspire us, will move us, will work hard. As long as we’re surrounded by those types of people, it doesn’t matter who the producer is or who the engineer is, we just want to be around people that are going to make… I want to be around people that are going to want to make me a better artist.

Todd: That makes sense. You have Kinetica coming out later this year. Is this a bunch of “Run For Your Life”? You have a definite sound and vibe. Is this going to be a lot in that same vibe or are you going to kind of venture out? I’m not looking for a ballad from you guys, but nothing’s off the table with you either.

Calico: [laughing] Aren’t you? Aren’t you? You’re getting one. Yeah. I think remember, at least for me, some of my favorite concept records from whatever era they sound like a musical. We have the big intro “Run For Your Life,” and then we follow these people. There may be not a period end of sentence, next scene story, but we’re following this very loose journey of where they’re going and what it’s doing and whatever. So you’re going to get that on Kinetica. I’m transfixed by the movie Memento and how he has to keep trying to figure out where he’s at and what timeframe. So the way we are going to release the videos, because we did 11 songs and there’s 11 videos. Because everyone loves me and lets me do what I want. I’m just kidding. But look, everyone benefits. So I’m releasing them out of the order that my mind put them in.

Todd: Really?

Calico: It’s like, “Run For Your Life” we’re introducing you all to the world that we’re in, and then the next single and the next single and the next single. It’s not released like we used to release music where it’s like single one, single two, here’s the whole record with the kind of advent of TikTok and all this stuff. It’s pieces. You’re releasing it in pieces. I thought, how can I make this? How would I want to experience this? So every six, seven weeks popping on and seeing where Beastö is, you go, how did they get there? So you end up putting this story together and you’ve got everything from a European heavy heavy metal to a slinky New Orleans pop explosion. It’s a little bit of everything and it’s all Beastö, but it all tells the story of Kinetica, which is like… kinetic energy is the more something shakes and solidifies and then it explodes. I feel like that’s the story of Beastö is it’s like we’ve been gyrating and working so hard and suddenly, it’s like all these ideas just exploded and came out and it couldn’t be stopped. Like Chuck’s songs and finding this producer, Chris Harms and all these visuals that had literally been clawing at my skull. They said, just do it. Do everything, do all of it. I felt like that scene in the fifth element where she explodes with lights, I was like, I’m going to do everything. So get ready for it, it’s cheesy to say, but it is a journey. When you listen to Kinetica, your brain is going to paint a story. I keep telling people, I go Send me videos of how you thought. Send me video. I would love to see how someone else heard “Run For Your Life.” You know what I mean? Visually, what did they picture? What did they see? So it’s like a call to everybody, this is just my take on it, but you make music, it’s not for me. Now I’m giving it to you.

Photo credit: Victor Chalfont

Chuck: I think that that’s very well put. I love it so much. We’ve done so many of these interviews and I still love hearing everyone’s take on the songs and how different they really truly are. So yeah, in a short answer, “Run For Your Life” is just one tiny little piece of what the record’s going to sound like. Music to me, if somebody says I listen to music, what do you mean? Okay, so your first answer is, well, okay, yeah, I listen to music too. So Beastö is a musical and there’s going to be different types of songs on there. I think it would be doing our fans and myself and ourselves a disfavor by doing 11 “Run for Your Lives.”

Todd: I’m glad you think that. You made a couple references now, Calico, to concept albums. You’ve referenced Dark Side Of The Moon, things like that. Not that that was the intent with this, but as this played out in the writing, the recording now the video side of it, and now that this is all festered with you guys and you’ve been able to step away from it, is that how you see this process? Because not every album can be a concept album.

Calico: No, nor should it, I think.

Todd: I could pull out a weird Kiss album and think, okay, Rock And Roll Over to me is not a concept album, it’s just a rock album. But this one in the way you’ve told the story behind it, is this your guys’ delivery of what you think a concept album is? Or did that entire process just come together organically once the music was there?

Calico: It did. I can only speak for myself is that I know we were going to say, Hey, let’s try some new things on this record. Let’s do some styles that we haven’t done yet or known for. We’re kind of Dirty Desert, Mad Max people. It’s like, okay. I know what we sound like doing that, but what do we sound like in a swamp in New Orleans? What do we sound like? So it started off with hearing songs that I went, is that Beastö? And then going, okay, I love the choice being taken away from me where it’s like, this is a song we’re doing. And I go, okay, now I light up because now I go, how do I make this work? It’s a good song. It’s a great song. How do I make Machine Girl meld with this? How does Beastö show up? So, it became a concept record for me. I wouldn’t necessarily call it one, but it became it for me when I just threw it out there where I said, Hey, I want to do visuals for every song because you can listen to it down under rock record. Individually the songs stand on their own. You don’t need to hear one for the other. There’s not a bunch of like, did you hear the ambient post track? None of that because we’re just dirty punk rockers at the end of the day. But for me, it became a bit of a concept record when the story just became so clear. As I was doing all these visuals, I was like, this is how they got there. This is a prequel. This happened a hundred years before that. This is happening now in the future. This is her when they’ve all left her during the ballad. It’s again the way my brain works. One of the first times I remember my brain doing this was when I was a kid, and your parents are not cool. I don’t care who they are, they’re not cool. They just aren’t. I remember we went on a road trip with my family and I forgot I had my little CD disc man thing with the … and I’m a crappy teenager and I’m sitting looking out the window and I didn’t bring my CD, so there was only just a bunch of CDs stuffed in the back of the seat. I found Alice Cooper’s From The Inside, and I’ve never listened to it because why would I? Do you know what I mean? I’m a piece of crap teenager, I don’t care. So without letting him or anybody know, I popped it in, and I remember we were driving through the snow, and I was listening to it, and I listened to the whole thing. Then I listened to the whole thing again and I listened to the whole thing a third time. It was such a mind bonk because you separate the art from the artist. I was listening to it because nobody made me. My parents weren’t like, you better listen to your dad’s music. I found it on my own. I listened to it on my own. When I tell you that from the very first track “From The Inside” and I saw the doors of the asylum open, and my brain started… we’re panning across and we’re seeing the people in the room as we pass. I’m 16 and I have no training, I have no directorial anything. I just saw it all. I saw it like a movie. I became so engrossed in it that I was writing out in my journal how I would direct it all, whatever. Then I asked him, I said, “Do you do any of these songs in your set?” He goes, “Oh no.” It was more the Trash era. So he goes, “No, no, I don’t really. Maybe one day we’ll go back to it.” And I was like, “This is all that matters. This is it. This is it.” So I get that same feeling when I listen to Kinetica because when I put it on from the beginning to the end, even now that I’ve heard it a thousand times, I start, we’re here and then we get here, then you can just take these characters anywhere. I’m obviously excited about it.

Todd: As you should be, as you should be. I know you all are busy, so I have one more for you. What still makes you get up and do this every day? What still provides that motivation for you individually?

Chuck: We’re sick. Twisted sick people. I ask myself that question sometimes – when you love something and you love the people that you’re doing it with, regardless of how hard it can get or tiring or somebody or something gets in the way, it’s because it’s just what you do. It is what you do. I haven’t felt like Beastö is finished yet. That’s sort of my thing. That was where I came up with really wanting to do another record was because we haven’t arrived at the place we want to be at. There was a lot more to tell. I think the one thing that Calico and I always felt like was that live is one thing and the music is another, then the videos. We just really wanted to meet in a place where they all were at the same party because I think people get the idea of what Beastö is, but then when they see us live, it’s like they can’t believe what they’re seeing. They heard the record, now all of a sudden they’re seeing us live and they don’t want to leave the spot they’re standing in. So we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders still, and we have a lot to prove.

Calico: For me, I think it’s like I’ve really found my creative life raft and my people. When you can create something that people are moved by in any way, whether it’s like, yeah, I’m going to get up, but I get knocked down or I’m feeling some type of way, being able to express myself with this amount of support and just positivity and stuff like that has been really game-changing for me in every arena because now I know that I can do it and that we all experience it in one way or another, no matter what your job is. How many times have all of us individually, everyone listening, been really confident about something that you know about and you’re sure and it’s good, and you go to the person that needs to hear it for it to happen and they go, yeah, that’s okay. You think “I’m passionate about this. I’m passionate about this video. I’m passionate about this song. I’m passionate. And they go, yeah, okay. Yeah. I don’t experience that here. So what keeps me going is watching people resonate with are weird. We are definitely not an acquired taste. Beastö, for what we look like, is actually pretty universal. You can hear us in a gym, you can hear us in a car commercial. We’re not cursing up a storm. We’re not lighting crosses on fire. But what we are doing is saying, showing our weird, basically flashing the world are weird. And being like, there’s room for so many people. There’s room for all of you as long as you’re willing to embrace the weird. I agree with Chuck, I’m definitely not done telling those stories or singing those songs. This new record, I can’t wait to put it on stage because even I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know what that music is going to do to my character live until we do it. Then I’m going to go, what is this? Right? I just can’t wait. I’m so excited.

Todd: I can’t wait either. I know there’s some European and German dates out there. I’m really hoping we get some US dates out there soon because I’m chomping for some live Beastö for sure. Because live, you guys definitely let that freak flag fly. I love it.

Chuck: Hey man, if you don’t let that freak fly, no one will salute.

Todd: Thanks guys. I know you guys have to get onto the next one. I appreciate it and we’ll talk to you next time around.

Calico: See you soon.

Chuck: See you.







Category: Featured Articles, Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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