The new album by Bullets and Octane, In the Mouth of the Young, is a gritty intense blend of metal and punk, and the band is currently touring with Panic Channel to support it. I caught up with Bullets and Octane frontman Gene Louis for an interview.
RC: How's the tour going?
GL: You know, every tour so far has been pretty crazy. Every tour has been a whole different thing. But this has been great. It's a different type of crowd, but they seem to love us, they seem to love Panic Channel, and we're all getting along and having a great time. It's pretty weird, but it's great, because those are guys that are legends, you know?
RC: That's what I wanted to ask about next. What's it like touring with the guys from Jane's Addiction?
GL: It's amazing. At first, we were just wondering how it was going to be. You know it's two bands, a super duper brand new band and guys who've been around forever. You know, are they going be kind of cool, or you can picture some of these people, you know might be a little bit rock starrish, but the first day they walked in like "Hey guys, good to see you man, sorry we're a little late," and this and that. And I'm just like, "It's OK." (laughs)
RC: You come from a pretty solid musical background, all the way back, don't you?
GL: Yeah, both of my parents played in the opera together. that's where they met each other, actually, and I've just playing with my dad live in jazz bands. Since I can remember I've had drumsticks in my hand, and I've been doing that since forever ago as a small child. Then, somehow, rock and roll came into the picture. It was great thing though, man.
RC: And you started out as a drummer in the rock and roll world too?
GL: Yeah, until about '98, I stopped playing drums live in a band. I still mess around on the recordings and things like that. Growing up in that whole jazz background is something I really feel is kind of a shame that kids nowadays will probably never even get a chance to hear anything about.
RC: So why'd you make the switch from behind the drums to being a frontman?
GL: You know that happens a lot with drummers. I think it first starts off with, it's always great to be a drummer, it's one aggressive rhythmic type of thing, but I think behind every musician that's a drummer, there's always a side that wants to be melodic, a side that wants to make different melodies and things like that.
That's kind of how it is at first. First you pick up a guitar, then you start writing stuff. At the time we were in California, and it was time to put a new project together, and I wanted to do something more, not just be a frontman in a band, but to be more hands-on songwriting-wise, being more important in the band, because sadly in some cases, when you're a drummer in a band you really don't carry much weight or importance, and when a band breaks up, you're kind of left holding the bag. You can't really take anything with you out of that.
RC: How hard was it to choose the new drummer? Did you have a hard time turning it over to Ty Smith?
GL: Oh no, we played with him back in St. Louis. He was playing in a band called Ultrafink we were all in back in St. Louis in the early '90s, and obviously he played with Guttermouth and the Vandals, and as soon as that was slowing down, and we started getting a little more serious, and a little more together with me being up front, it just made sense. When we first started, we were just recording and making demos and things like that, so it wasn't so important to have a whole band together. We were just making music to create it.
RC: So how would you describe the sound you have now, because you come from a wide range of influences, and you blend punk and rock?
GL: Yeah, it's definitely one of those things where you can't hide the influences, no matter what type of groove you bring to the table when writing. Our guitar player James, his main influences are the big guys, the Joe Perrys, the Slashes, The Angus Youngs - the big-time guitar solo rock guys - so that'll never be hidden, that's for sure. With Ty coming from Guttermouth and the Vandals, it's always going to be a hard-hitting, usually uptempo type of situation.
Every song, when it first starts out, it doesn't sound like any one type of thing, it's always a different idea, and by the time everyone gets their hands on it melodically and musically, it ends up being in the same genre, which is kind of cool, though. At least we know we're not just making the same cookie cutter s**t. Everything starts in a different direction, with a different idea.