Blase Debris – the Phoenix and the Christ
Written by Liam Sweeny on November 21, 2018
Punk to me is a raw force that pushes back against the tide of bullshit that seeks to suck the sand from beneath our feet. And metal, which I’ll admit is my favorite of the two genres, hate mail be damned, is like that razor’s edge that carves through all the garbage bags to show the world what it’s throwing away. Okay, these analogies suck, but imagine finding a band with the raw angst of punk and that technical, melodic savor of metal, pretty boss, right? That’s Blasé Debris.
Blasé Debris, currently composed of singer and guitarist Duane Beer, lead guitarist Patrick “Ginsu” Ginnelly, bassist Charlie Monroe, drummer Bill Ketzer and saxophonist Justin Birk, has been an established name in the Capital Region and elsewhere since 2002. Kids born to Blasé Debris’s first jam are just now getting their learner’s permits, for perspective. We sit down with Duane Beer for a few questions.
RRX: I read your bio, and it said that you set out to close the gap between classic metal and punk rock. I watched the video for Collecting Stares; it had a really full sound, something I thought was missing in some of the music I hear from either genre. Can you talk a little bit further about how you all met, and how you all were put on this musical quest?
DB: Jamie, Tony, Rob, Earl, Karl, Billy, JJ, Charlie, Patrick, Ketzer, Justin and myself make twelve. A dirty dozen different members over the years. I remember telling Tony (aka Sewers) that no matter what happens, no matter how many different members, it is Blasé DeBris from this day forward. We “all” have known each other prior to playing together.
In the beginning we were looking to do double kick punk rock with a Broadway-esque style live show. Something with sort of a Oliver-meets-Rocky Horror vibe. We were a wild live band that felt right at home within the Horror Punk genre. We signed to Altercation records fairly early on, released the “collecting stares” video you referred to, and hit the road in support of our 1st full length album, entitled Creep Cool.
We played some really cool shows and burned the candle at both ends. Driving from state to state in a van with one tire in the grave is nerve wracking. There were breakdowns and boozed filled nights that would make nearly anyone question their sanity.
RRX: Being as how you all exist in a bit of cross-genre, do you have any issues with metal purists or punk purists in your fandom, like those music trivia arguments that happen around the music? Have you hybridized your fan base, or is there a state of friendly rivalry between metal and punk?
DB: We have transitioned fairly smoothly from our horror punk beginnings into a “this is DeBris” rock band with a solid old school punk and classic metal foundation. I love what we are doing now, and I like what we had done and had attempted to do in the past. We had lofty aspirations and carried on despite countless setbacks.
Our fan base locally is mostly made up of friends and fellow musicians. When you have been around as long as we have you will see “the scene” change multiple times. I feel like most musicians do a real decent job of supporting each other.
I highly doubt we would be near the top of any punk or metal “purist’s” playlist. The majority of folks I find myself talking to at our shows enjoy listening to the Ramones as much as they do Black Sabbath. Really, that’s us, our band, our friends, and hopefully our fan base.
RRX: You all have played in monster venues and festivals, and you’ll be playing in smaller spots like the show coming up here. What do you guys see as the benefits and drawbacks of big stages vs. little stages. Is one preferable? And which type of venue, real-world or dream-world, do you all think is the perfect vehicle for your sound?
DB: Larger stages tend to have better monitors and sound systems. Smaller stages force the band to be closer to each other. It’s kind of cool to feed off of each other’s energy.
Personally, I like to be able to move around on stage. Give me a big stage and a crowd that is hearing us for the 1st time, and for me, that is exciting. That being said, I am “most” comfortable in a well air conditioned, smaller club with a cool stage and rockin lights. The old QE2 setup (downtown Albany) with its stage, cage, sound, lights, artwork and eclectic clientele was what dreams are made of. Simply put; it was the coolest hang out.
RRX: You have Justin Birk on sax in your latest line-up. You don’t expect to hear sax in anything metal or jazz. What do you all see it as bringing to the sound your putting out there? And are there other instruments you’d like to see brought in to the blend?
DB: Loving the current lineup with Justin on sax. [He is] a sax player with a solid background knowledge of classic punk and metal. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? There is a time and place for everything I suppose.
When putting our latest album together in my head I could hear horns on a handful of songs. Did I know it would work on everything? Nope, I did not hear that coming. It’s good to be surprised.
As soon as we started working everything out it was obvious to all of us that this was the direction we would be headed in. Playing together felt right and sounded fantastic. Justin’s playing really solidifies the new sound of DeBris. The five of us make up the band, but when it comes down to recording, we will always be soundscapably adventurous.
Gimme piano, gimme cello, trumpet, xylophone, fiddle and endless imagination.
RRX: On your Facebook page, in About, it says that you guys are “greaser punk meets classic metal in a rocky horror hypothesis…” I like that. It’s very visual. If you can, can you take a song, or a favorite album, and tell us what it is, and give us a visual description of the world you all put into that song or album?
DB: I will gladly elaborate on the song Up in Smoke, off of our latest album. It is a song of reincarnation and immortality. You can draw parallel lines between the life of Christ as it is most often perceived and the mythical lives of the phoenix. Musically it was important to be open and comfortable in the verses.
I wanted the vocal to feel like it was landing on a hotel collection soft standard pillow. It tightens up and gets more resounding in the chorus and closes with a fury of chaotic drum fills before landing on the pillow once again for the finale.
If given the choice between reincarnation or immortality which would you choose?
As the phoenix, you would live a solitary life. As it is written, only one phoenix can exist at one time. It is endless reincarnation. Both Christ and the phoenix (sometimes referred to as God’s pet) have the ability to heal. Christ chooses to heal others as the phoenix can heal itself.
When the phoenix reaches the end of its life, it sets the nest and itself on fire and is burned to ashes. Only to rise again and begin its life anew. It just sounds lonely to me. To be the only one of your kind. I choose immortality. To lift a line from the chorus, “immortality is worth the wait”.
RRX: I just had a chance to check out your new CD, “The Gauze.” Such a great mix of songs you got there. How about I shut up at let you all talk shit about how your CD can beat up everybody else’s CD?
DB: “Beat up everybody else’s CD”??? Nah, I just don’t approach music that way. It is certainly us against us. I visualized hearing this album “the gauze” long before beginning the recording process. It was always a, “see this through”, you must “see this through” sort of thing. Try not to settle, and then make peace with the recording.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I said to the engineer/producer (Arthur Scott Verner, DMS Studios) I know no one will hear the difference here except for myself. But, I can assure you that no one will listen to this recording more than myself. Art gets it and is great to work with.
Now that I am able to step outside of myself and listen to the album as a whole I love it. From start to finish it just flows well. From the artwork to the tom drum outro, it is all DeBris.
We have created a signature album that deserves to be heard. Go out of your way to give it a listen and get out there and catch a live show. Until then, Thank you for your time and attention.
PS: We will be performing at the Radio Radio X-Mas event on Friday Dec. 7th at the River Street Pub. 194 River St. Troy NY along with Joe Mansman and the Midnight Revival Band and Big Frank and the Bargain Bingers. Also, keep your eye out for a soon to be released vinyl version of Blasé DeBris’s latest album The Gauze with two bonus tracks. (via Cacophone Records)
Special RadioRadioX Bonus!
Here are the full lyrics to the song Up in Smoke, mentioned above, with permission from Duane Beer.
UP IN SMOKE
of yin and of yang
with the neck of a snake
don’t get carried away
on tombs and on graves
red hot is the heat
that fans itself with the flames
don’t get ash in your eye
there is no escape
and so I call on this flesh of mine
if I’m to burn with celestial rays
let’s go up in smoke, this ain’t no joke
immortality is worth the wait
quit the body that dies
don’t let Eve get away
with her looks and her lies
creep cool on the coals
I’ll be a loner for life
don’t you ever get cold
don’t hand me a line