Biters is a beautiful celebration of rock ‘n’ roll excess, stripped right down to the bones. The Atlanta-based quartet isn’t as much a band as it is a wrecking ball of hedonism. Fueled by booze, groupies, fire-eating fans, car chases, wrecked furniture, and almost rogue-ish anarchy, the band is everything other bands want to be.
Established in 2009, Biters consists of Tuk (vocals, guitar), Matt (guitar), Phil (Bass), and Joey (drums). Biters released debut album “Electric Blood” in 2015 and several EPs including “It’s OK to like Biters” (2010) and “Last of a Dying Breed” (2012). Biters’ latest album, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” is a classic salute to glam rock. Biters channels its inner T. Rex on tunes like “Stone Cold Love” and proves that it can keep the spirit of the 1970’s alive.
I spoke with Tuk and Matt in a dressing room at the German House in Rochester, NY when the band was in town for a show on May 26. The interview got rolling after a few warm-up questions. An edited transcript follows.
What’s an ideal Biters show?
Tuk: To me, having a dressing room before the show.
Matt: Just having a room where we can be at peace before we go onstage without being bothered. We’ve played so many shows where there’s nothing but the room you’re going to play, the bathroom and the bar.
Tuk: Drunk people f*ck with us constantly; you burn yourself out real quick. We’ve been touring so long that we’ve gone from the worst possible places to play to some of the biggest and best. We’ve run the entire spectrum.
Can you describe your favorite show as a member of this band?
Matt: Most recently I had a great time at the Roundhouse in London when we toured with Blackberry Smoke. That’s an incredible venue, everyone there was amazing, and the crowd was amazing. We love London anyway. Right now that’s going to be my favorite show until another one comes along and tops it.
What would you say is the definitive Biters song?
Tuk: It’s going to be different for each member. And here’s the thing, we’ve put out so much stuff that everything is different so I don’t think there is one. It’s like asking Bowie what his definitive song is.
Matt: We’ve gained and lost fans as we’ve changed as a band. Things that got people off earlier don’t do it as much for people who are just discovering us.
What has drawn you to playing your style of music?
Matt: For all of us probably our families; we come from poor families that had lots of problems like everyone else has and rock and roll is like a cure-all.
Tuk: Yeah, I grew up in a small town so I got into punk rock and that was the way to rebel – to be anti-establishment, anti-organized religion. I was attracted to all that stuff so punk rock is what led me to guitars and rock and roll.
Who are some bands now that you think are worth checking out?
Tuk: I listen to music about 40 years old. My favorite bands have been dead for a long time. But there are some cool ones out now; Frankie and the Studs are great. We’re on tour with them.
How much do you tour?
Matt: Sometimes half a year and sometimes less but around there. It depends on what’s coming up and if we’re writing for a record, we’re not going to tour as much.
Tell us about your new album.
Tuk: I just wanted to write the kind of music that I like to listen to. I don’t care about being the hardest band or the wildest band, I just want to write good songs that make you feel good that you can turn up and listen to. We have a lot of labels; some people think that we’re going to be the saviors or some bad boy band or whatever. When we started this band the influences were bands like Cheap Trick and The Cars and Sweet. So I think people that are expecting us to be 80’s rockers are going to get a big, “Wow, this is a lot different than I thought.” We were getting pigeonholed with some 80’s rock bands so I made sure the new album was really steeped in 70’s glitter rock.
Listening to your music I feel like I fell into that trap about you guys being bad boys.
Tuk: We’ve been bad boys and we get marketed like that but we’re trying to be good. I would rather people know us for our songwriting rather than (comment deleted).
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?
Matt: Getting paid up front, just kidding (laughs).
Tuk: You should look, write and act for the part you want. A lot of people say, “When I get to this point, I’ll start to write songs like this.” If you want your end goal, you should start right then and there to achieve it. Looking back I would have done a lot of different things.
Tuk: I would have written more marketable songs and I would have done things differently for my main goal.
What’s something the Biters would never do?
Tuk: There is a lot of silly shit I wouldn’t want to do.
How do you guys balance musicianship with offstage antics?
Matt: Our offstage antics are what we need to do to recover so we can continue.
Tuk: I do a lot of Yoga. We party when we go home and we tour too much to act like that. We drive in a van so we have to take care of ourselves and it’s not like there is somebody looking after us. I think the biggest misconception about rock bands is that there is all this leisure time. There is never any time to f*ck off. You have to balance going to bed, partying and playing shows.
Matt: You need to budget your time. If you’re playing the next day and you get to bed late and drunk, do you think you’re going to recover in time to play that show?
Tuk: Yeah, we did the partying for years. It’s really hard not to lose your mind because we don’t make a lot of money and it’s not glamorous once you do 30 or 40 tours.
Matt: You can’t even afford it, man… partying like that on a long tour.
Tuk: We did it for f*cking years; the first five or six years.
Link to video: Stone Cold Love:
Photo credit: Roman Divezur