Catchin' a Buzz
Chronicles of Chaos interviews Filthboy's Buzzy Beck
by: Gino Filicetti

It has been a long time since we last spoke with Pittsburgh's Filthboy. Way back in Chronicles of Chaos #3, almost two years ago, I spoke with Buzzy Beck about what it was like being a small band in a big country. Now it's 1997, a full four years since Filthboy was started by Beck and Kevin Sebastian, two high school buddies who thought it'd be a blast to get together and make some intense music.

A lot has changed for Filthboy since we last encountered them. They've gone through some painful member changes, they've had to deal with the scum of the industry, Buzzy is now a married man, and the band is finally signed. But the heart of Filthboy hasn't changed: "Kev and I have always been at the heart of the writing. We worked with a live drummer for a bit, so that really changed the music a lot. But we didn't like how that was working, so we went back to machines." He continues, "Our CD consists of all our old demos, plus, like, 2 songs that were written last year."

Although it was thought impossible at times, Kevin and Buzzy have finally found someone that they can wholly relate to, and let into their closely-knit duo. That someone is Scott Lewis, former Brutal Truth and Exit-13 drummer. "It was back to me and Kevin again after two members left to pursue their own thing. We went down to the Brutal Truth show here in Pittsburgh and Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth's current drummer) got our poor asses into the show. We were just hanging out, and to our surprise we found out Scott had been living in Pittsburgh for two years."

"Danny Lilker (Brutal Truth's bassist) introduced Kevin to Scott and three days later, he was in the band. Only, it's a lot different with Scott, he's not just a changing member like it used to be. Before, it was always me and Kev with a live band, now it's the three of us at the helm." He continues, "Scott joined right after we finished the disc. He doesn't play drums like he used to for BT either, he plays bass for us. He is now like part of us. Not just a guy in the band. Filthboy is now the three of us writing music. It's great. It took us almost three years to finally find someone like Scott."

Why, though, is Scott Lewis different from everyone else that has come and gone throughout Filthboy's short history? Could it be his well-known name that Buzzy and Kevin are eager to have grace their roster? "<laughs> Yeah, his name, that's it! Actually, it's funny, because people come to our shows in other cities because they hear Scott is in the band and they are expecting total grindcore/death. It shocks them when they see what we are doing, and that we don't have a live drummer."

"Scott just really fits in. He is like one of us. We all agree on things very easily. If the three of us are not doing something involved in music together, we are just kicking around the city together. It's more than a 'band' thing with us."

Lewis has been in the music scene for quite a while, so obviously, he has brought a lot of maturity to Filthboy. Buzzy agrees, stating, "Yeah, he's been around, he knows what to expect from people. He keeps me and Kevin in check with reality sometimes. He figures people out a lot easier than us. I guess we are somewhat naive at times."

Since we last spoke with Filthboy, the number one priority on their 'to do' list was to get signed by a label. Unfortunately, they found out that things aren't always as easy as you would expect. "We had been shopping our demos for the last year or so, and we had four different labels VERY interested in us during that year. One of them was as far as dealing with contracts. But everything just kind of fell through and we decided that we were getting nowhere waiting around for a label. So we just recorded the disc on our own and we were going to put it out by ourselves. That's when we ended up with None of the Above. They didn't have the money to sign anyone at the time, but our disc was done. So Brett was like 'Hey, I will put that out for you.' So that was that." He continues, explaining that, "We are not really signed, we just licensed the disc to None of the Above."

Having None of the Above release Filthboy's disc, entitled _Diverse Reality_, while a blessing, still hasn't solved all of their problems. "Unfortunately, for the people in Europe looking for the disc, we have to find someone over there to release it. The CD is only available in the States. But we are in touch with a few European labels that want to put it out, so hopefully soon it will see the light of day in Europe. We really want to have it released in Europe." Why, though, is the band so anxious to see the disc get European exposure? Does anyone in Europe even know the name Filthboy? "Well, it's already doing great in the States. Caroline is reordering more from None of the Above as we speak. In Europe, we had a bigger following with all of our old demos. Plus, let's face the facts, Europe is a MUCH better market for heavy music." Buzzy continues, explaining how the Internet was the biggest factor in getting them exposure in a continent they've never played. "Yeah, I've encountered a lot of European tape traders on the 'net, and through IRC, I was able to get the word of mouth started and tell people about Filthboy."

"There are some people over there paying ridiculous import prices for the CD, and they don't deserve that. They should be able to get the disc for a reasonable price. We are selling the CD on our web page to people over in Europe and elsewhere to try and cut out the import prices for them." Check out Filthboy's homepage at http://www.lm.com/~hate.

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant big labels can be of the fresh, new, up and coming bands that are all around us. It seems that they always end up signing utter garbage whilst the cream of the crop is left to whither and rot in the pasture due to lack of exposure. Over the past year of label dealings, Filthboy has come to realize the truth about the record industry. "The industry is so corrupt. It's resorted to back scratching and the 'what have you done for me lately' mentality. It's just not about music. The problem we have is that we don't kiss anybody's ass. Where most people or bands just shut up, we voice our opinions and make it known how we feel. I don't care, call it burning bridges or whatever. If we don't like someone, we will tell them. We won't talk shit behind anyone's back, we will tell it to their face." He finishes by saying, "I really don't want to talk much more about it because it discourages me and sometimes makes me wonder why I am even involved in the music business."

As always, Filthboy's music is what says it all. Trying to compare _Diverse Reality_ to the old demos is like putting a pig in a beauty pageant. Things have changed tremendously. Buzzy comments on Filthboy's new direction: "Well, I don't think it was a very radical change, it was kind of the direction we have always gone towards. We have always strived to NOT sound like a certain genre or band. There is a lot of good music out these days, so we just had to keep changing and evolving in a natural kind of way." Next, he queries me by saying, "You have the old demos, how much do you think the music has changed?" In response, I stated that, besides an improvement in production, I thought the music itself had changed tremendously as well. A lot of the 'typical' heaviness had changed into something different but still heavy, and a lot catchier."

Filthboy has had its share of detractors, people who can not accept the fact that a band needs to grow to stay alive. "We've done away with the machine blast beats and fast guitars. I think we have matured a lot since we were 19. We do get some people from time to time that say we don't have much death metal influence in the music. I can't help it, it's just what happened. We write what we write, not because we stay in a certain realm or genre." He continues, "The disc is getting great reviews. It might take people time to understand it at first, but once they get into our stuff, they are hooked. We have people that either LOVE what we do or HATE it completely. Not much middle ground."

The new material seems to spring from more different influences than the old stuff. Buzzy assures me that Filthboy's influences have stayed intact. "We're still listening to all the old stuff we used to listen to. We may have opened up to a bit more underground electronic music, but we still love metal. I am listening to the new Entombed as we speak." He finishes, saying, "Scott has got us to experiment a little more than we had in the past."

Although playing live is one of Filthboy's strong suits, the band has never been on a major tour. They have opened many shows in Pittsburgh for a wide assortment of bands such as Overkill, Crowbar, Life of Agony, Brutal Truth, and Suffocation. Filthboy has also headlined a few small east coast tours. So what's in store for the world this time around? "We are working something out with a booking agent right now. We have to get out there and make people see us. We have a big regional name, but not too many people on the west coast even know who we are." He continues, describing Filthboy's stage show, "We have lighting effects. Kevin gets pretty crazy and stuff. It's not just a band playing, it's something you have to see. Plus, the music is different live, we have redone the entire CD since it's been released so that we could add crazier shit to the show." But does Filthboy value theatrics? Is it an integral part of the Filthboy experience? "We don't value it. On stage, we dress like we do everyday, not in plastic. We just play in the dark with back lighting. We are who we are, we don't have an image. I guess that makes us punk rock now. <laughs>" When asked if they have any respect for theatrical bands, Buzzy replies, "Sure, it's their thing. It's just not our thing. We are into giving people something to look at, but we try to keep the focus on music. A lot of industrial bands have a bullshit "live drummer" backing up a tape on stage. It's just some guy up there so people see a drummer. It's a perception thing. Fuck that, we won't do it. I don't care if some kid walks out of a club because we don't have a drum set on stage. That's pure ignorance. But that same kid will love a 16Volt or Bile show because there is some guy acting like he's playing drums. We don't hide the fact that we use a drum machine."

These days, it seems that a lot of unconventional heavy bands are getting the spotlight, such as Korn or Fear Factory. Although one school of thought pegs them as being brilliant, another, more underground group thinks of them as sell-outs. Filthboy could easily be tagged in the same vein: Buzzy thinks that bands shouldn't be shunned for ingenuity. "Well, Korn is Korn. I don't know why a lot of the 'heavier' kids don't like them. Their first record was VERY heavy. I was amazed at how big they got. The new record is not as heavy or hardcore like the first. For some reason, everyone wants to hate those guys. Maybe it's jealousy. On the other hand, bands like Coal "Korn" Chamber, are a fucking joke." He continues, "What bands like Korn and Fear Factory are doing can only open more doors for heavy music. Although that new Fear Factory is pretty lame. <laughs>"

It is unfortunate that human nature includes a fear of change. People tend to want things to stay stagnant and immobile, and usually look down on bands that attempt to cross genres and breathe life into a dead scene. "Everyone must have their own ideals of how a band/genre should sound, but there are a lot of close-minded people, and the thing that kills me is that these label A&R guys are supposed to know so much about music, but where are their bands? If they are so fucking enlightened, why aren't they the ones making the music?" He continues his tirade, "We have had labels tell us they don't know how they could market us and therefore want nothing to do with us. You'd think being original would be good for a band, but labels rarely see it that way. It's the industry, man, they don't want to take a chance on anything that's different; they want you to sound like band X, and that's that."

There is definitely a strong electronic, almost techno, presence on Filthboy's new album. This is largely due to the use of drum machines that gives the music its mechanical sound. Unfortunately, it seems that electronic music has lately gotten a lot of "MTV spotlight." This is probably the worst thing that could happen to such a dynamic and fresh form of music; in the past, it seems that everything MTV embraces, eventually whithers and dies away in their clutches. Is it possible that Filthboy could seem mainstream to some people because of the electronic presence on _Diverse Reality_? Buzzy answers quite vehemently, "No! Come on, you have the disc, do you think there is anything on there that could get played on MTV? One thing that separates us from most industrial bands is that we have a lot of METAL influence. In an age were it's trendy for bands to say 'We are not metal anymore,' we are not afraid to admit it." He finishes the interview by saying, "A lot of bands that started out as metal or even death metal, do some re-mixes and now say they are not metal anymore. It's a complete fucking joke."

(article submitted 12/8/1997)


CHATS
10/1/1995 G Filicetti Filthboy: Filthboy's Fanatical Fight for Fame
ALBUMS
6/7/1997 G Filicetti 9 Filthboy - Diverse Reality
DEMOS
11/8/1995 G Filicetti Filthboy - Whatever You Wanna Call It
9/2/1995 G Filicetti Filthboy - Filthboy
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