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Bibeau: Progressively Carrying the Metal Torch

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bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band7By Johnny Griffith

I have a confession to make. I play in a club friendly, easily accessible, party band that plays a lot of top-40 country, classic rock, and funk, but my heart is still back in the late 70’s to mid-80’s progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes, Rush, Queensryche, and later, Dream Theater.

Coming from a background of classical music, the sweeping compositions, intelligent lyrical content, and technical proficiency of the “Prog-Rock” genre captured me in ways that other music never did.

Born of the late 60’s psychedelic rock genre in Britain, prog-rock reached its pinnacle of mainstream popularity by the early 80’s with the expansive structure and instrumental nature of the songs not being radio friendly. However, fans of the genre have continued their support over the years, spawning new generations of musicians willing to take up the torch and lend their own voice to the chorus.

Local prog-rock band Bibeau is one of the newest bands making waves in the genre right here in East Texas. Formed in 2009 by brothers Robin and Peyton Bibeau, sons of transplanted New Orleans native and veteran music exec Paul Bibeau, the band has already made their mark on the scene locally, regionally, and globally with a growing international fan base, a YouTube channel with thousands of views, and several positive reviews in industry magazines. With a full slate of shows coming up as well as work and school, these guys are constantly moving forward at a breakneck pace. They graciously sat down to give us a chance to learn more about Bibeau for the EGuide readers.

bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band3Johnny: Give me the backstory on how the band started.

Bibeau: Our dad has been in the record business for years, so we were raised around rock stars and music. When we were younger, he owned Spitfire Records (Black Label Society, Dio, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Danzig, etc.), and he plays guitar, so no matter where we lived – New York, New Orleans, or Whitehouse, Texas – we had music rooms with drums, guitars, amps, and records everywhere. Peyton would climb on the drum kit and bang away as a baby, and I (Robin) would gravitate to the guitars.

When we were old enough, our dad taught us how to play, and he played bass with us in what became the first version of Bibeau. We posted our first video in February 2010 on YouTube featuring songs from Rush, Van Halen, Free, and The Beatles. We played our first show at American Band Idol later that year, and my friend Sara Smith came to the show. We started working with her and writing our first songs, and we played festivals and renaissance faires. At that point, the band wanted to find a singer because we were basically an instrumental power trio.

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Johnny: How was the process of adding additional members to get your current lineup?

bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band5Bibeau: It was a tough process, but definitely worth the effort. It took what seemed like an eternity to find a singer. We posted on Craigslist, put flyers in music stores, and auditioned a few singers, but no one had the vocal range we were looking for. We wanted a powerful singer, male or female, with range. We also considered adding a second guitarist to build the guitar harmonies.

We finally found a singer and second guitarist after we played a benefit at Click’s Live in Tyler. Both musicians had promise, but there wasn’t a good connection there, so just a few days before opening for John 5 from Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, we found ourselves once again needing a vocalist and guitarist. We talked to Alan Benek Hernández on guitar and Drew Theiring on vocals about sitting in as guests for the John 5 show, and they learned the songs after just two practices.

Our bass player Sara Smith left the band for college, but she’s always a friend whom we all love. However, that left us with another hole in the lineup. Our new bassist, Chris Ray, came to Bibeau from a working connection with our first singer. Chris is an amazing musician. We feel that working with great musicians has helped us grow our audience and gain attention in many places we still can’t believe.

Johnny: Where is everyone from?

bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band4Bibeau: Everyone is from east Texas with the exception of Peyton and me (Robin). We were born in New York and lived in New Orleans in 2004-2005 until Hurricane Katrina showed up. We stayed in east Texas and moved into a house in Whitehouse after losing nearly everything in the storm. We have been here 11 years now, and we love the area. We all have roots here now, having met new friends and fellow musicians, and we would like to help grow the music scene here.

Johnny: Who would you say were your biggest musical influences individually and collectively?

Bibeau: Alan Holdsworth for me (Robin). Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dokken for Alan. Iron Maiden for Chris. Led Zeppelin for Drew, and Simon & Garfunkel for Peyton.

We have a profound respect for the greats of yesterday and the developing talents of today. We all have different tastes and influences in music, and it is represented in our songs and overall sound. You can hear the influence during a live set; we perform mostly our original material. While our influences are in there somewhere, we all feel that we manage to have very much our own unique sound. With the world being the way it is, we all feel that music now should be intellectually challenging and entertaining and in no way, dumbed-down. We also did not want to be derivative of the Dream Theater style of modern progressive music. It’s been done to death. We listen to TesseracT, Sky Harbor, and other great new bands, but it is important that we create our own thing.

bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band6Johnny: What has been your most memorable moment as a band so far?

Bibeau: Hands down, our show in Baton Rouge. The crowd’s reaction was overwhelming, and we had a hard time loading our equipment in the parking lot because we were swamped by happy people. That’s what it is all about. Having your songs make an impact live. It’s becoming a trend at our shows, and we are playing just about everywhere in the south now.

Johnny: What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

Bibeau: Time. We all work or go to school. We are weekend warriors, and we need as much time as possible to write and refine our original songs.

Johnny: You recently released your first single and supporting video, how was that process, and what did you learn that will help you moving forward?

Bibeau: We recorded “Mark This” in our home studio, and we sent it out to Luke Garrigus at Blackroom Studios. We were blown away with his mastering, and we have decided to record the new record at his studio in Georgetown, Texas, early next year.

As for the recording, we have learned a lot about recording through trial and error. Everyone laid down their respective tracks so smoothly, it was impressive. As a band, we have worked hard to become extremely tight.

The “Mark This” video was a phenomenal experience, thanks to director Justin Mosley. We opted for a dystopian, post apocalyptic sci-fi themed video. Justin Mosley directed the movie “Devil’s Deal,” which was distributed by Lionsgate, and he happens to live in Tyler. We really wanted to work with him! Justin is incredible at what he does, and he worked to help us add a metaphorical theme for the video. Metal may seem scary, but it unites like-minded people into a community. We also wanted to use elements of our crop circle logo and our voodoo theme mixed in within the storyline. We wanted a metal video reminiscent of the heyday of MTV because not very many bands do that anymore. 60,000 Youtube and 20,000 Facebook views later, it is still finding traction.

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bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band2Johnny: You guys developed and released a mobile app for the band. How well was that received, and did it help with the outreach and marketing?

Bibeau: It came out before this new lineup, and it has helped. Honestly, we need to refresh it and rework a campaign to promote it more. We are very active promoting the band via ReverbNation, BandCamp, Number One Music, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now, SnapChat.

Johnny: What are your goals for 2017 and beyond?

Bibeau: We have a major event to kick off the new year with an absolute legend of the guitar: Ace Frehley of KISS, who will be playing at Click’s Live in Tyler. We’ll be opening for him! We also hope to record our debut record in February/March and release the record on Fade to Silence Records in the summer. Then we tour!

If you’re a fan of prog-rock or just metal in general, be sure to catch Bibeau locally while you still can. Their star is rising, and these guys aren’t content with the status quo. I look forward to an exciting future for Bibeau as they continue to push the genre and write their own chapter in the history books.

Rock on!

bibeau-band-tyler-tx-heavy-metal-band1Bibeau on the web:

Upcoming dates:

  • Saturday, October 8th – Zombiepalooza, Click’s Live, Tyler, Texas
  • Friday, October 21st – Bailey’s on the Square, Marksville, Louisiana
  • Sunday, October 30th – Rock ‘N Roller Derby, Tyler, Texas
  • Saturday, November 5th – The Deadhorse, San Angelo, Texas
  • Saturday, November 12th – Texas Mist, Austin, Texas
  • Saturday, November 19th – The Memphis, Longview, Texas
  • Friday, December 2nd – Future-Fest at Click’s Live, Tyler with Cut-Throat Queens
  • Saturday, December 3rd – Curtain Club, Dallas with Cut-Throat Queens
  • Friday, December 9th – The Railhead in Lawton, Oklahoma with Cut-Throat Queens
  • Saturday, December 10th – Stick’s Place in Wichita Falls, Oklahoma with Cut-Throat Queens
  • Saturday, December 17th – Zombie’s, San Antonio, Texas
  • Saturday, January 21st – Click’s Live, Tyler, with Ace Frehley

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Bands

October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

MercyMe will be in concert at The Oil Palace is October and is guaranteed to sell-out!

Since their debut in 2001, Grammy®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners, MercyMe has sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), ‘Here With Me’ (No. 4 AC), ‘Homesick’ (Top 10 AC), and ‘So Long Self.’

Their radio success has continued with recent singles ‘Flawless’ (No. 1 for 15 weeks) and ‘Greater’ (No. 1 for 16 weeks)​, landing them the Top Christian Airplay Artist spot on Billboard’s 2015 Year End charts.

MercyMe made history in 2014 as ‘I Can Only Imagine’ surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s ‘Word Of God Speak’ the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents.

They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.

Their most recent project “MercyMe, It’s Christmas!” debuted atop the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and became an instant classic. Their eighth studio release, “Welcome To The New,” garnered Billboard Music Award nominations in all three Christian categories and two Grammy® nods; the album is available in stores now.

Tickets start at $19 and are available at oilpalace.com. The Oil Palace is located at 10408 State Highway 64 East, Tyler, (903)566-2122.

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Blacktop Mojo: Burning Up The Roads To Success

By Johnny Griffith

About a year and a half ago I sat down to interview Blacktop Mojo, a Jacksonville based hard rock band riding a wave of momentum after several successful years together and an upcoming album release. The end of that interview finished with this:

“Blacktop Mojo can still be heard around East Texas on a regular basis, but I would definitely suggest checking out their website for more information and a sample of their music if you haven’t heard them. If it’s in your wheelhouse, get out and support a great local band that won’t be local for much longer at the rate their Mojo is working.”

As it turns out, I was a little more prescient that I anticipated as Blacktop Mojo’s stock has only risen in the ensuing months. With a successful album release, ever increasingly distant tour stops, and mounting accolades from industry critics and magazines, local BTM shows are becoming harder to come by.

In case you might not have heard of Blacktop Mojo, their sound can be described as “modern rock that got dragged through a puddle of southern rock and then dipped in a little bit of grunge”. The band was originally formed in 2012 and the current lineup includes Matt James on vocals, Nathan Gillis on drums, Chuck Wepfer on rhythm guitar, Ryan Keifer on lead guitar, and Matt Curtis on bass.  

With a huge sound and chest shaking vocals, Blacktop Mojo brings a high energy rock show that leaves fans wanting more everywhere they go. While in the midst of rehearsals last month for their most recent tour that kicked off in San Antonio on April 20th, we caught up with them to see what had been going on for the past year and a half and what was on the radar for the rest of the year.

Johnny: So it’s been about a year and a half since our last interview with you guys and the last time we talked there was an album in the works. When did “Burn The Ships” release and how was the process different from the first time around when you recorded “I am”?

BTM: “Burn The Ships” released in March of 2017. The biggest difference between this record and our first record, “I Am”, was the amount of time we took for pre-production. On “I Am”, we spent about two weeks getting ready and arranging the songs before we went in to record it, where on “Burn The Ships”, we spent about eight months demoing and playing around with different ideas.

Johnny: How has the reception been to the album so far and do you guys have your own personal favorite song from it?

BTM: The reception to the album has been incredible this far. We’ve had countless positive reviews and feedback from publications all over the world. Also, our first single off of the album entitled “Where The Wind Blows” reached number 27 on the Billboard Active Rock chart last summer.

Johnny: You guys got to open for Bon Jovi last year in a sold-out stadium. Tell us about that about how you guys got that honor and a little about the experience?

BTM: We actually won that honor in a contest the band was putting on. We submitted some of our original music and were picked by Live Nation and the band’s management to open up the show. The experience was beyond amazing and the crowd was very receptive to us. We cannot thank the Bon Jovi camp enough for the opportunity and for treating us so incredibly.

Johnny: Obviously that put you in front of a lot of potential new fans but what would you say the biggest takeaway from that event was?

BTM: Our biggest takeaway from that night was that whether you’re playing in front of 20 or 20,000 people, you should treat it the same way. Make everyone feel like you’re playing in a stadium even if it’s an empty room.

Johnny: Blacktop Mojo has been trending steadily upward the past couple of years with several accolades from industry publications, over 40 thousand likes on Facebook, a new album, and you guys seem to play everywhere and anywhere. What kind of effect has the increased exposure and success had on the daily routine and what kind of new challenges have came along?

BTM: Our daily routine hasn’t changed much when we’re home. We still write and rehearse on a regular basis and go about business as usual. The increased exposure has made touring opportunities more readily available for us and has increased the number of people we can reach with our music, which is super exciting for us.

Johnny: You have a pretty extensive tour coming up that you’ll already be on the road for when this goes to print. Is this the biggest tour BTM has embarked on and what goes into planning a 2-month long road trip that covers, as best I could count, 32 states, both sides of the country, Canada, and 43 shows?

BTM: This is our most extensive tour to date. A lot of planning, routing, and generally putting the puzzle pieces together has gone on over the past few months by us and our team to make this happen. We couldn’t be more excited to get back out on the road and see our friends across the country.

Johnny: I’d say it would be time for a break after that sort of trip, but you guys are right back at it, playing Rock Fest 2018 up in Wisconsin with some huge names, do you guys ever have to step back, take a breath, and say to yourself “this is our reality”?

BTM: We are very blessed to be able to wake up and do what we love every single day. They say “you never work a day in your life if you do what you love”, so I don’t think we’ve ever really thought about taking a break.

Johnny: Were you able to see yourself at this point back when you played your first show at the Neches Fall Festival or the first “official” show as BTM at the Shelton Gin back in 2012?

BTM: It would have been hard to imagine getting to do what we do now back then. We’ve always just been happy to be able to play music for people.

Johnny: With what’s on your plate for the first half of this year, I almost hate to ask, but what’s on the radar for the second half of 2018 that you can share with us?

BTM: We have plans to keep touring throughout the rest of the year and are currently writing music for our third record.

Johnny: What has been the best memory from the ride so far?

BTM: It’s hard to pick just one from all of it. One of my favorites so far was riding back into town off of our first tour last Summer/Fall. We’d been out on the road for over 60 days straight with 7 of us basically living out of our van. We were tired, beat up, and hungry, but everyone was smiling and joking with each other. It really felt like we had accomplished something.

For more information on Blacktop Mojo and when they’ll be back at a location near you, check them out on the web:

www.blacktopmojo.com 

www.facebook.com/BlacktopMojo.

 

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