Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol: (l-r) Leo Lydon, Aaron Metzdorf, and Sean St. Germain (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
“It’s like Andrew W.K., but less party.”
That characterization, by singer, guitarist, and lyricist Leo Lydon, comes as a shock to me. Given his band’s ludicrous identify, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, and campy file titles like Grease Beast, BEEF, and Burger Babes…From Outer Space!, I anticipated a enjoyable, playful, carefree aesthetic – presumably together with some deep, imaginative lore: a Rickshaw Billie’s prolonged universe with colourful characters, distant planets, and buxom babes being saved by hunky hamburger males.
“The lyrics are pretty serious,” elucidates Lydon with a half smile. “They’re pretty metal.”
As it seems, RBBP is a critical band with a foolish identify.
By now, for those who pay any measure of consideration to the native rock scene, you have in all probability seen their identify festooning flyers, noticed one in all their myriad shirt designs sported round city, or, like me, heard their ridiculously lengthy identify and instantly grew to become unable to overlook it.
The trio’s native recognition has grown steadily, particularly over the previous couple years, which – if you have not heard – have been form of tough on bands whose calling card is their stay present. Between metropolis shutdowns, venue closures, and widespread monetary pressure, the stay music capital of the world needed to hit maintain on that title for some time. Some musician mates even reported not getting on a stage for over two years. Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, nonetheless, by no means let the fireplace exit.
“You have to keep moving,” Lydon displays of the Great Pause. “I couldn’t just sit around and wait for everything.”
This angle was, and nonetheless is, mirrored within the Patrol’s indefatigable work ethic. Their seemingly fixed in-town gigging and regular stream of releases seem like a recreation plan that works for them.
“It’s like baseball,” explains bassist Aaron Metzdorf. “Just get on base. Make a good product.”
Simple sufficient. However, that “good product” he speaks of is not so easy to pin down, labelistically. You see, in a style that abounds in subclassifications, one is challenged to sum up these cheeseburger guys and their sound with only a phrase or two.
“It’s metal you can dance to,” explains Lydon. “It’s pop metal. Doom-wop.”
“Groove metal,” provides Metzdorf.
“When booking out-of-town shows, I usually have to say ‘heavy groove rock trio,'” chimes in drummer Sean St. Germain. “Bookers have told me that when they hear groove metal, they think Pantera.”
Between Lydon’s high-kicking antics, Metzdorf’s back-bending bodily feats, and St. Germain’s often-shirtless, always-smiling power, their stay present’s a maelstrom of fine vibes and loud noise. This groovy model of loud guitar rock stands in stark distinction to the ocean of great, scowling metallic bands that populate the vast majority of heavy music circles. Lovingly layering their sonic sandwich with a patty of properass metallic riffs made further crunchy by Lydon’s eight-string guitar (see the opening to “Baby Man” and “Sister Militia”) unfold with some tastefully timed metallic screaming (take a look at the tip of “Death Wagon”), they add in a pinch of basic prog rock (consult with “Maniac,” which sounds straight-up like Rush) and nestle all of it between the nice and cozy buns of Lydon’s post-grunge singing voice that lands someplace between Ozzy, Mike Patton, and Perry Farrell, bridging a refreshingly up to date model of rock with a nostalgic Nineties zeitgeist.
What all these components add as much as is an approachable, accessible heavy metallic Happy Meal that is simple to like.
Recipe for Success
Things are good for the Patrol lately with stable streaming numbers, encouraging file and merch gross sales, and a worthwhile gigging schedule. The band is already 66.6% on the way in which to being skilled musicians, because the string gamers focus fully on the band and not too long ago have been capable of give up the crummy-day-job a part of the native rock star life. And all this took place for the reason that pandemic, when many bands have been on unspecified hiatus and struggling.
But the story of Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol begins within the Before Times, pre-pandemmy, in a spot many Austinites (this interviewer included) have inhabited: a sprawling, colourful house complicated on the nook of East Riverside and Pleasant Valley recognized affectionately as “the Met.” For the uninitiated, the Metropolis Apartments are like a hard-partying fraternity for arty weirdos in suspended adolescence and innumerable stray cats. Cheap and social, it is an incredible launching level for younger new-to-towners – particularly musicians, since they permit residents to follow of their residences till 10pm-ish. Many of us met lifelong mates and future bandmates there … and a few of us met future cellmates.
It was there that next-door neighbors (effectively, upstairs/downstairs, anyway) St. Germain and Lydon grew to become acquainted at a celebration in 2015. Both have been Boston-area transplants and musicians. St. Germain had moved right here from New England with a self-described dad-rock band, whereas Lydon had been prompted by Austin mates to return to city to participate within the filming of a music video. Hitting it off, they quickly started taking part in collectively underneath the identify Chuck Bucket, however in March of 2017, they performed a present with new materials and a brand new, fast-food identify.
The Metropolis has a pool, the viscosity of which hints towards equal elements water, spilled booze, and urine. And subsequent to this swimmable septic tank there is a stage … like, an precise, full-sized stage for performances … in the midst of an house complicated. And on high of some fairly mediocre DJ units and a few downright horrible singer-songwriters, I noticed performances by German psych rockers Kadavar and even Greg fucking Ginn of Black Flag transpire poolside. It was additionally right here that Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol first, really, broke bread.
“It was a joke,” remembers St. Germain. “For our first show, we had burger nicknames. We were playing the pool at the Metropolis, and someone was grilling burgers next to the stage.”
While the boys have been lukewarm on the hamburger-intensive premise, they favored what they performed.
“The music felt great, but the schtick didn’t fit,” says St. Germain.
“It’s metal you can dance to. It’s pop metal. Doom-wop.” – Leo Lydon, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol
What did stick was the Rickshaw identify and musical partnership. That similar yr they launched the cheekily titled debut EP, Burger Time Classics, together with a music video, that includes a fourpiece Burger Patrol.
“We used to have a second guitarist. He couldn’t make a show that we couldn’t cancel, and we couldn’t find another eight-string guitar player, so we just played with the three of us … and afterwards, we were just like, ‘This works,'” St. Germain says with an approving gesture.
EPs would comply with yearly over the subsequent two years as they trimmed the fats all the way down to the working energy trio format. And as their discography steadily grew, so did their fan base. More and extra, the burger band moniker was noticed on flyers, more and more headlining and in addition touring the Southeast. But it was late 2018 that introduced the Burger Patrol into its last type. Georgia native Aaron Metzdorf, primarily based on a coin toss, had determined to maneuver to Austin.
“It was loud,” laughs Metzdorf about his new residence. “I didn’t know anyone in the state of Texas and Burger Patrol was some of the first music I saw.”
Leo Lydon along with his eight-string guitar and twin amps, throughout a latest RBBP present at Stubb’s (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Befriending the band, he started to assist them promote merch and transfer gear, finally going out on tour with them as a roadie. Then, on Halloween of 2019, he graduated from band pal to bassist.
“I’m still the band’s No. 1 fan and now I have the most front-row seat to it every night,” he smiles. “I’ll never get over that.”
“Since he joined, the band is like it should have been since day one,” feedback Lydon of the personnel change. “That’s when everything clicked into gear.”
Shortly after the ultimate lineup coagulated like grease on the backside of a cardboard clamshell container, the band got down to stake their declare with a busy 2020.
“2020 was going to be a big national touring year,” says St. Germain, who handles many of the band’s reserving. “And then that all went to shit. We had almost the entire year booked and then,” he snapped his fingers, “we lost it all in a day.”
But COVID-19 did nothing however additional solidify the band’s dedication.
“We just didn’t take our foot off the gas. Just kept rolling with the punches,” explains Metzdorf.
“It didn’t even cross our minds to not [keep our foot on the gas],” provides St Germain.
“It was fight or flight,” agrees Lydon.
They poured themselves headlong into the writing and recording of their first full-length, Burger Babes…From Outer Space!, which was launched in November of that yr and has since bought out of bodily copy – with a second urgent arriving this fall.
“A lot of bands didn’t want to put records out at the time because they couldn’t play and tour,” remembers St. Germain. “We said, ‘Fuck that shit, we’re writing music. Our people wanna hear it.'”
With the lack of nationwide excursions, they stored combating the nice combat, releasing a deluge of merch, doing fire-sales on shirts to finance the band whereas gigging wasn’t an possibility, and even hand-delivering packages round city. With these earnings and their very own do-or-die ethos, they filmed music movies for Burger Babes cuts “Baby Man” and “Death Wagon” on a finances to maintain the ball rolling by way of the shutdown. The onerous work paid off; the Far Out Lounge was capable of begin internet hosting stay exhibits within the fall of 2020, and the Patrol acquired early calls to prepare dinner up a few of their candy meat onstage for hungry followers. And when stay music got here again citywide, RBBP started a relentless marketing campaign of gigging that has remained fixed to today.
The Secret Sauce
“The goal is to sound like one instrument,” explains Metzdorf of the Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol stay expertise.
The wall of Worshiper speaker cupboards emits a readability of tone that unifies a setup that is fairly unconventional for his or her style. On bass, Metzdorf performs principally full chords to fill out Lydon’s largely single-note model. Lydon fell in love with the eight-string guitar years in the past after buying one for an audition with well-known mathcore unit the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. That thick, purple axe – counting two further strings (B and F sharp) that stretch its decrease register (moreover, the highest string can also be tuned down a complete step) – runs into twin amps: a Sunn Model T and an Orange Terror Bass. Altogether, its uniquely booming blast blurs the traces between a bass and a guitar, which permits Metzdorf to really carry the upper finish. No surprise viewers members are sometimes rubbernecking at their gear, making an attempt to know how precisely they’re making this distinctive model of heaviosity.
Simply put by Lydon, “You have to see it live.”
With that in thoughts, the band is planning a tour this summer season and a brand new album this fall, with hopes for a distribution deal to accompany it. But these hamburglars stay defiantly unbiased they usually don’t desire some go well with with an enormous cigar coming round to pitch the “I’ll make you a star!” bullshit.
“We don’t want a label, we’d rather do it ourselves,” says Metzdorf in no unsure phrases.
“We want to be out playing, eventually headlining. A label won’t help with that. If we can do it ourselves, we’ll do it ourselves,” agrees St. Germain.
“If we don’t know how to do something, then we can figure it out,” provides Metzdorf. “Rule No. 1: Don’t get fucked. Rule No. 2: Make a quality product and work your ass off.”
When requested concerning the future they do need for themselves, all of them agree that it isn’t in massive arenas: “When you can’t shake [fans’] hands, that’s too big,” Lydon says earnestly, then laughs. “We want to play Saint Vitus, not MSG.”
As far as their musical hometown? Rickshaw Billie and the boys don’t have anything however love for the followers, double cheeseburgers from Dan’s, and the music scene that helped start them.
“Who’s helping you and how are you helping out other people? And how are you helping grow this whole thing that you’re a part of?” Lydon ponders. “Austin has that. A lot of people here want to help each other out.”
St Germain agrees: “That’s something I still love about this city. It’s not about awards or recognition, but about building that family, because that’s going to last longer. And it’s unreal how kind people have been to us over these past few years.”
Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol performs Saturday on the Far Out for the Lonestar Unleashed mini-fest headlined by Dallas doom-psych heroes Wo Fat, and Monday at Sagebrush with Greenbeard, earlier than kicking off their Midwest tour with a efficiency at Mohawk on July 6.
A model of this text appeared in print on June 24, 2022 with the headline: Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol Stays Hungry