Biram brings musical influences
to a boil with ‘Bad Ingredients’
By Catherine Harper
For musicians, influential artists and genres can simmer together to form a satisfying musical brew. For Texas State University alumnus and musical fusionist Scott Biram, the pot comes to a boil with his new album, Bad Ingredients, released Oct. 11.
Since his graduation from Texas State in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in art, Biram has released six solo albums mixing blues, country, folk, hard rock and punk genres for a style all his own.
He says growing up in Lockhart and attending concerts in Austin with his parents inspired his interest in music. As a child and teenager, Biram would simply pick up instruments and start to play them — the guitar when he was 6, keyboard at 13 and percussion instruments at 16.
As an undergrad at Texas State, Biram began his career with a local punk band, The Thangs, and later toured with bands such as The Bluegrass Drive-By and Scott Biram and the Salt Peter Boys. Biram says he later decided to go it alone based on his love of touring as well as his independent and spontaneous nature.
Since becoming a solo artist, Biram’s music has spread like wildfire with hit songs that have been featured in movies, documentaries and television shows, including “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
According to Biram, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact genre of his work due to his own range of influences.
“My style of music, it’s hard to say — it’s more like a paragraph than any certain genre,” Biram says. “I’m a ‘one man band.’ I play the guitar and percussion myself. I’m like a cross between Muddy Waters, Gerry Monroe and Black Flag.”
Bad Ingredients takes the listener on a driving, 100-mile-an-hour journey as the tracks twist and turn down the unpaved roads of Biram’s experiences from the small towns of the South to the deserts of the West. Themes of desolate blues and reckless abandon flow through the album to accompany the wide base of Biram’s influences as well as his unique rough-housing style.
The album’s leading song, “Dontcha Lie to Me Baby,” gives it a rocking start as a punk-inspired country anthem. The songs incorporate bluegrass, folk, Western, punk and heavy blues as Biram samples genres, moving unexpectedly from one to the next, like the beheaded bird of his song, “Killed a Chicken Last Night.”
But the core feel of the album is that of previous eras of blues. This becomes strongly apparent in tracks such as “Just Another River,” a tune comparative to Leadbelly’s “Black Betty” with the modern feel of The Black Keys; “Born in Jail,” a lonesome blues jam that nods to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” with the wailing vocals and style of B.B. King; and the closer, the solemn, rhythmic track “Hang Your Head and Cry.”
Other musical styles make their way onto the album in “Open Road,” a melodic folk-Western track with fuzzy vocals and twanging guitar similar to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”; “I Want My Mojo Back,” which takes the feel of New Orleans “Dixieland” jazz and adds wailing saxophone solos in between country-rock hooks; and “Victory Dance,” which harnesses the ultra-fast tempo of bluegrass with a country-rock bite.
“[My influences] all work their way in there,” Biram says. “Sometimes it separates itself and it’s just straight-up blues, straight-up country, straight-up rock, straight-up metal, and sometimes it’s a little bit of everything, which just makes a little cocktail for you. It works pretty good and becomes my own thing.”
For Biram, the journey has been a hard road, paved with lessons about seeking and finding success.
“I learn a lot every day: Don’t ever book a show on Super Bowl Sunday. Nobody will show,” Biram jokes. “Above all, work really hard at it and don’t expect people to give you anything.”
In keeping with his work ethic and sense of self-determination, his spirit remains wild and untempered as he regards the future.
“I want to continue seeing where this goes, and where it takes me. It just keeps getting better and better,” Biram says. “I ask myself all the time what I’d do if I couldn’t be a musician – I’d probably be a producer, or a booking agent, or a manager, and if I couldn’t do any of that I’d be a delivery truck driver.”