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No bullsh*t: The Demon Beat goes on

By Staff | Jul 27, 2011

When guitarist Adam Meisterhans sits down to talk about the latest The Demon Beat record, a whole host of subjects spring up: Dinosaur Jr., vinyl records, touring all the way to Austin, Texas for SXSW, and “towing the line between entendre and talking about something very serious and heartfelt.”

When Meisterhans speaks about rock music, it’s clear he knows what the hell he’s talking about. It also becomes immediately evident that he’s one of those non-alpha males who obsesses over specific notes in a guitar solo and finds the deep need to deconstruct his favorite records and artists with a sharp, careful intellect.

“Bullshit Walks,” released July 5 on Big Bullet Records/Caustic Eye Productions–available at shows, on iTunes, and online at the group’s Band Camp page–is The Demon Beat’s latest effort. The title is an obvious crack, but musically and lyrically it’s a balance being seriousness and playful humor.

“It’s kind of a joke about the music industry. It’s like, ‘I guess we’re bullshit because we don’t have any money,'” Meisterhans said with an endearing laugh.

“I think Pete Townshend is probably a pretty good example of that. Clearly, that guy has thought about a lot of the things he does and they’re very intentional, deliberate things,” he said. “But, also, it’s really, really funny.”

It’s of little surprise the guitarist brings up Townshend. At first glance, Meisterhans looks somewhat like Pete in his younger days. Also, his playing style somewhat mimics that of early records by The Who. And let’s not forget that, while on stage, Meisterhans throws in Townshend’s iconic windmill strumming.

Yet The Demon Beat (whose lineup is rounded out by Tucker Riggleman on bass and Jordan Hudkins on drums) truly is its own band. Sure, their influences are obvious: The Who, Weezer, Pavement, Thin Lizzy, and maybe just a touch of Dinosaur Jr., but the band tends to pound rhythmically and soar with a fuzz from the higher frequencies in ways that separates them from the pack.

The band certainly has done well for themselves since meeting in Shepherdstown a few years back. With four previous releases, a ton of shows in West Virginia, a few regional tours, and a trip to SXSW, it’s clear the band is working hard for everything they’ve accomplished. They mostly gather an audience in the college-aged demographic, but with blues and classic rock influences, it would surprise no one if those kids’ dads started showing up. Meisterhans attributes the group’s steady rise to the process of learning everything together as a band.

“It’s just like everything else, it’s been snowballing. When we started none of us knew anything about booking or recording or writing or anything. We just started and if we wanted to know how to do something we tried it, screwed it up, and then kept doing it,” said Meisterhans.

But with “Bullshit Walks,” it’s difficult to believe the band screwed anything up.

The album clearly seems to be the group’s tightest, most thought out record. Beginning with a building energy in lead off in “Nevermind,” the band runs through the record with a fury. “Give Me All Your Money” is something begging for radio play with sounds stretching from early ’60s to contemporary, blues-inspired garage rock and “Bang” evokes The Beatles from Abbey Road. The album’s second to last track, “Totally Blissed Out,” might even perk the ears of Hendrix. “Bullshit Walks,” to put it simply, is no bullshit.

When speaking about the record, Meisterhans seems to be proud of the group’s latest effort, and seems to believe it’s a result of trial and error–a careful refining process that has taken the band five years to get comfortable with their skills.

“Everything is kind of different. The previous record, ‘1956,’ we recorded ourselves. This is the first time we made a real go at making a full length. It’s a lot of work from one time period,” said the guitarist.

As far as expectations, The Demon Beat plans on holding close to a DIY ethic and making sure it remains a process that yields fun rather than torture and manipulation from executives or anyone else.

“We don’t have delusions of grandeur,” said Meisterhans. “I like playing music, they like playing music, and we’re just going to keep doing it until it’s not feasible anymore,” said Meisterhans.

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