The band Beasto Blanco was on tour in Europe the weeks before Christmas, and on December 21, they played their first show ever in Sweden, at Harry B James in Stockholm. The band, which was formed in 2012, has had a successful year since their second, self-titled album was released one year ago, and quickly became the #1 Release on the Billboard Heatseekers charts. Now their third album is in the works, and meanwhile, a brand new live album will be released next month.
LÄS PÅ SVENSKA HÄR.
A character on stage who can’t possibly go unnoticed is Alice Cooper’s theatrical daughter Calico. Besides adding female vocals to the show, she’s dancing around on stage with her zombie eyes, wearing a spiked bodysuit and swinging a spiked bat dangerously close to the lead singer, Chuck Garric.
But how did it all start? How did Calico end up in the band, and what’s the story behind the character with the spiked bat? Rockbladet got the opportunity to talk to Calico Cooper before their show in Stockholm, and offstage there was no trace of that twisted character you see on stage. On the contrary, she’s a very nice and friendly person who was in a very good mood when she met the reporter and the photographer from Rockbladet.
What is Beasto Blanco about to you?
- I think Beasto Blanco is about the people to whom everything doesn’t come easy. You know, the people that work hard, that get up and grind. They don’t have life handed to them. I think that we kind of represent those people. The bikers and the blue-collar workers. Yeah, people that really make the world go round! It’s gritty and it stands for work ethics. I think it stands for like the real man!
Okay, but how did it all start?
- Beasto Blanco started with Chris Latham, who we call Brother Latham, and Chuck Garric, and they created the band and had a sound that they wanted to go after. They wanted to be a little more hillbilly than Rob Zombie, a little less electronic than Rammstein. You know, we had all these cool bands that we loved, but ultimately we wanted to create our own sound. We took parts that we liked from all those bands, and then kind of infused our own sort of American redneck hillbilly into it, and Beasto Blanco was born from that. Then they hired me on to do background vocals, and I just sort of created a monster. (Laughter)
Yeah, about that monster, how much of that stage persona is really you? The real Calico Cooper?
- I mean, you know, I think that has to live in there somewhere. Everything that Beasto does, and everybody that’s in the band is really genuine, and I think people read that. So I think that a big reason that people like Beasto Blanco is nobody’s like putting it on, nobody’s faking it. Nobody’s acting tougher than they are, you know. Nobody’s doing any of that, so I think the character that I play on stage, that has to live somewhere inside of me, you know what I mean. Like that kind of dominance, and that kind of twisted sort of persona, that’s really a part of me. It’s just that the Beasto show is a place where I can let that out freely, and nobody gets hurt! (Laughter)
What is the inspiration for your character on stage?
- You know what? It’s the most organic character I’ve ever played, because I didn’t plan anything out. Our first Beasto show, you know, I knew all the words, I learned all the words, I learned all the music and I showed up to that first show and just said ”Let’s just see what happens!”, and the character developed from there. At the beginning I didn’t have the bruises or scratches that I paint on myself now. It was just me and kind of a black rock n roll outfit, and as I kind of started feeling these emotions with Chuck and the band guys, and I started feeling the lyrics, the character changed and it’s still changing. Like last year, it was angrier and a lot more menacing, and this year it’s changed to where she’s almost feline, but that was not planned. The first show I went up there and I went “Oh wow, this is not like last year!”, so it’s always gonna change, you know. This year all the new stuff that we are playing is a lot faster. Beasto’s last record had a lot of like kind of honey grooves, like everything was very slow tempo kind of sexy. A lot of the stuff we’re doing this year is really high energy, which coincidentally really takes it out of you on stage a lot quicker! The first show I went off I said to myself “Okay, we’ll have to rethink this!” (Laughter)
You are also an actor. Does it show on stage?
- I think the actor part really helps because you don’t always feel like “Yeah, tonight I really wanna burn myself out for an hour and a half and sing the same songs!” So when the acting comes in, you just kind of feed off the crowd, and the Beasto crowds are amazing crowds, so it’s really easy to kind of feed off their energy! When they’re manic, we get manic, and it kind of brings everything to a boil! But as far as being an actor, this character is just another character that I play. One that I really enjoy playing, obviously, because I do it over and over and over again!
You grew up in an environment of Rock N Roll. Did you always dream of becoming a rock star?
- I never wanted to be in a band. Ever! That was the last thing I ever wanted to do, and then Chuck came to me with an idea. He said “Listen, I wanna do this band where you play sort of a Frankie and Johnny, sort of a Bonnie and Clyde, sort of a Natural Born Killers thing”, and I said “Well, but I’m not really a great singer!” Then Chuck said “Well, it doesn’t matter! I just want you to portray this character with me!”, and I said “Okay, I can do that!” The singing came later. I didn’t realize that I could sing, until he already put me in the band. He had me doing all these theatrics, and then all of the sudden he said “Well, try singing on this song, and this song and this song!”, and then before you know it, they were writing songs just for me. So the singing kind of grew out of agreeing to do a piece of theatre with Chuck! (Laughter)
What about song writing? Who is writing the songs in the band?
- So, Chuck and his wife Lindsay write all of the songs and Chris, Brother Latham, does a lot of the music. The way Lindsay and Chuck write is that they’ll go and see a play, and there’ll be a line in the play, that will stick with them and they’ll talk about it on their way home. Maybe there was this guy who wasn’t born with a lot of money, and all of a sudden the lyrics come out like “I may not been born with a crown on my head, but Mom gave me muscles and knuckles instead”. So it kind of grows from that, and then they call Chris, and he writes the riffs, and then everything kind of becomes a song. Then I’ll come in and say “Okay, what if we brought it here with these backing vocals and these theatrics” so yeah, everybody plays a pretty integral part in making the songs what they are!
What about your musical inspiration and influences?
- We all grew up loving the big hooks of Aerosmith, the big power ballads and everything like that, like we loved Motörhead, we loved Rob Zombie, a lot of those guys. We wanted to honor it, but we never wanted to copy it. The hillbilly harmonica, kind of blue collar groove is uniquely Beasto, and I think that’s something that sets us apart from the bands that we appreciate, because there is a grittiness to what we’re doing. It’s not polished and it’s not overproduced. Like when we play live, we just start the show and think “Whatever happens happens!”, and that’s very much Beasto!
What was the first album you ever bought? Do you remember?
- Yes! The first album I ever bought with my own money was Ratt ,“Out of the Cellar”, and it was only because my mom listened to them and I wanted my own copy! I was so little, but I went and bought the cassingle. It was like the cassette that only had the one song on one side and then the B-side on the other, it wasn’t even the whole album. But then the first CD I ever bought was this trippy nineties pop group called PM Dawn. I remember because they were playing on the radio and I was like “Oh, I gotta get this!” I still love it, The PM Dawn record still holds it water.
They say that the scene of Rock N Roll is still very much dominated by men. Do you agree?
- I do, I think there is an untapped female energy that I don’t know why it isn’t more mined. There are a lot of great girl rock bands, but I feel like they fall victim a little bit to the marketing. You know, they get signed and they say “Okay, well, you guys have to wear next to nothing, or sing this way, or sing about these things”. I was lucky enough to not have anybody telling me what to do, so if there is any sexuality that comes through, that was all me! You know, nobody can say “Oh, I can’t believe they make you wear that!” I sew that together! The costume I’m wearing tonight when we enter, was inspired by The Enchantress from the Suicide Squad. On the Beasto stage, there’s nobody more or less dangerous than the other person. I think very few female bands have a lot of support, and unless they’re sexy, nobody cares, so unfortunately, even great female vocalists and great female rock bands get overlooked unless they play that game. I don’t have a problem with it, because like I said I get to call my own shots, I make my own clothes.
As far as female rock bands go, I think Halestorm is unbelievable. I mean obviously she’s the lead singer and there are boys and girls in the band, but it’s a great example of how you can be super sexy, insanely talented and do it exactly the way you want it! Girls love male rock bands, because there aren’t many female rock bands to follow. So yeah, they’re out-represented in the crowd, they’re out-represented on the stage. It’s not a big money maker. You have to do Rock N Roll because you love it, not because it’s an instant billion dollar paycheck!
Do you notice that you’re getting more fans?
- Yeah, I think it’s funny for me specifically, because I do so many things, so when the fans kind of clash, it’s super interesting to see them interact. There are some people that only know me from my TV stuff, or only know me from film. I just did a really great film in LA, and left directly from there. I wrapped the film, got in the car, went to the airport and came here. I didn’t even go home! By the time I got here, the people that were on the film managed to look me up, and they were going “Who are you?” because it’s so different making these characters that I’m playing.
I think one of the best gifts I’ve been given is the Alice Cooper fans, because they are so supportive of what we do. You know, they’re super supportive of Beasto and they are really supportive of my film career. These people watched me do the twelve years that I did the Alice Show. You know, I talk with them, I sit with them, they’re people that I’ve known forever, and so they will follow me into the dark if you will, and kind of go with me wherever I’m going, which is such a blessing.
Do you know anything about the rock scene in Sweden?
- I do know a lot of Swedish rock fans, because of the years with Alice and Beasto Blanco. I’ve met many great fans, I mean, they are very friendly and helpful! As far as the rock bands in Sweden go, one of my great friends is Ryan Roxie in the Alice band, who I grew up with. He has lived in Sweden for many years, and Ryan and I share a deep love of music. We will sit up for hours, and just go back and forth on the stereo, playing each other music that nobody’s heard. “Have you heard this? Have you heard this?”, and we’re trying to outdo each other. He has given me a good lesson on a lot of really cool Swedish rock bands, that I’m still kind of getting into, but, you guys are pretty notorious for amazing pop music, too.
Finally, can you tell us anything about the upcoming, third Beasto Blanco album?
- Yes! So a lot of the songs on the record are about our experiences. Beasto is never in the middle of the road, we’re either crazy successful and we cannot believe our fortune, like we can play in some town where we’ve never been before, and it’s sold out. Then we can go somewhere else and our van catches on fire! It’s never in between! We can get a tour bus and for the first five days it’s amazing, everyone’s sleeping and laughing and drinking and watching movies, and then the driver will get kidnapped! It’s like a movie! Beasto should have been a documentary, and still might be! The new record is full of real life stories. We cover like, Tim not getting into the states. We had our US tour planned, we’re playing The Monsters of Rock Cruise and we had everything set up for a month and a half of shows. Our drummer, Tim Husung, flew in from Germany… and couldn’t get in! Trump had just gotten elected and the travel ban fell. There was no reason, our drummer didn’t have a record, they just turned him away and sent him back to Germany, and we had a month and a half of shows starting tomorrow! We had to stay up for 24 hours and teach our tour manager, Kenny Bailey, who owns a bar in Chicago and who plays the drums for a bar band, how to play Beasto songs. He learned it, I don’t know how he did it, but he learned all of the songs! Also, I had a great conversation with Chuck’s wife Lindsay in a bar one time, about when I get super hurt. Most girls when they walk out of a room and say “Leave me alone! Don’t follow me!” still want you to follow them, but I mean it! If I get up, it takes a lot for me to get up and leave a room, but if I get up and storm out, don’t follow me, because I left for a reason! Then Lindsay wrote a song about it!
The record is really good! A lot of up-tempo, cool stuff! We’ll be playing a song tonight off the record which is about Tim not getting into the country, and, I mean, it’s like a freight train! It’s so fast. It’s not genuinely that Beasto groove, but it’s so fun to do and it fits with the rest of the Beasto stuff.
REPORTER: Tamara Chastain
PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Westermark
FACTS - Beasto Blanco
Chuck Garric - Vocals - Guitar
Chris Latham - Guitar
Jan LeGrow - Bass
Tim Husung - Drums
Calico Cooper - Vocals