Beatallica Interview (10-28-04)
By Ronnie

Right: Beatallica is Krk Hammettson, Ringo Larz, Kliff McBurtney and Jaymz Lennfield

Mixing The Beatles with Metallica? It sounds so bizarre that when someone told me about Beatallica, I had to search these guys out! While most tribute bands can be entertaining, there is just something about parody-tribute bands that I really like. Maybe it’s the humor factor. But that can only take you so far - the band has to be great musicians to pull it off.

When I heard Beatallica's “Gray Album” (their second and most recent release), I became an instant fan. Their music is clever, ingenious an on par with the best of rock and roll parody bands. It also seemed that everybody that I played Beatallica for would ask, “Where do you get their CD?!” Well, Beatallica does not release CD’s, but you can get their music FREE from their website. That's right, you can download those demonic, anti-Christ mp3's (sorry, had to poke fun at Metallica). So go to their website and decide for yourself. Beatallica is easily the best parody rock band since Led Zeppelin and Elvis were combined in Dread Zeppelin!

What follows is my interview with the band…

E.C.: First, I was just wondering - it takes a bizarre mind (like mine!) to come up with the mix of The Beatles and Metallica! Who came up with the Beatallica idea? Tell me a little about what you originally set out to do and if it turned out like your original concept?

Beatallica: Really the idea of Beatallica, and the naming, was on behalf of Jaymz, Krk, and D^2 (webmaster of puppets). There's a festival in Milwaukee called Spoof Fest, where musicians get together to emulate and desecrate their favorite bands. One year, Metallica was done by Jaymz and Krk, before they were known as Jaymz and Krk. On the way to rehearsal, Krk heard "For No One" by the Beatles and mixed the progressions with Metallica thoughts on his mind. Jaymz did the same, only lyrically. What started as a whim quickly became an obsession with more and more songs. A recorded disc of songs was obtained by D^2 and he put up a website. It simply went nuts! He was the one to actually call the project "Beatallica".

The focus of the band has obviously changed from being a side project to becoming an internet sensation to becoming a working live band. Musicians for bass and drums were added to complete the live puzzle. As far as songwriting, it's Jaymz and Krk bouncing musical and arrangement ideas off each other. The Kliff and Ringo characters do contribute and we really like the idea of having somewhat of a democracy, or at least an open forum for ideas on how to structure songs. Now the band's future is something we hadn't initially dreamed of but we do now. Our intent is really to play live all over the place and we're working on hitting many places. The live show is really starting to "come together"!

E.C.: Do any of the band members have other bands on the side or is Beatallica your main focus?

Beatallica: It really changes day by day with us. Beatallica is always a main focus, no question about that. But, at times, some of us have shows with other projects. Jaymz gigs out regularly with several projects, but it really comes down to what needs the most attention. Since the induction of the new site on April 1st, Beatallica has become a project that requires daily attendance on various levels. Some days it's just crazy but to have folks out there that want to hear you, see you, gab with you, and more...that's really, really appreciated!

E.C.: Also, there is a fine line (not to be quoting Spinal Tap) between a "tribute" band and a "parody" band. Why not just a Metallica tribute band?

Beatallica: We've had various offers to be a Metallica tribute band. Simply, the answer is "no". First off, the Beatallibangers around the world would kill us all! We're Beatallica, not Metallica. We've had offers to record but not change the lyrics and use our own artistic comedic freedom. To that, too, the answer was "no". We're Beatallica and our lyrics are a vital part of the band's identity and creativity. We've worked too hard at establishing character dynamics to change that direction. Thirdly, we all do other projects for creative outlets and we all enjoy making our own art. Krk deals with theater/rock opera, Jaymz works with acoustic music and poetry, Ringo and Kliff have been in metal bands for years.

Call Beatallica what you will: tribute, parody, whatever. Just be assured that it's Beatallica--a separate entity that is inspired by Metallica and the Beatles but isn't striving to be either of those bands completely.

E.C.: I'm also curious, what are your favorite parody bands/shows? I imagine The Rutles & Spinal Tap are required watching to fully appreciate Beatallica?

Beatallica: Sure, that stuff is really great. We certainly enjoy our comedy and musical mix. We're a bit more bombastic than the Rutles. We dig the Python stuff and are totally looking forward to the Spamalot show once it hits our area.

E.C.: I loved the title of your first offering, "A Garage Dayze Nite"! Too bad that Metallica already has their "Black Album" (as opposed to the Beatles "White Album"). There are just so many possibilities and so many parody CD covers come to mind! Will we see more Beatallica parody titles?

Beatallica: Man, we have so many songs ready to be worked on! For the Gray Album, we had 15 ready to go and decided on 8. Just because you have an idea, it needs to have flow. It's not just like we grab one thing and mash it with another. There has to be cleverness, subversiveness. One really needs to know both bands to be fully informed as to just what the hell is going on. Beatallica has recording plans before the end of the year and into next year, and the next, and the next...

We do have our favorites just waiting to be developed. Some ideas have gone back to the drawing board. No doubt we're pushing ourselves but we want to keep a loose feel as well. Keep on top of things at You can get all you want, musically, for free via the site.

E.C.: One thing I like about your music is that, although there is comedy, there is some hot musicianship going on in the tunes! You guys have definitely done your homework and there is an ingenious (and authentic sounding) mix of James Hetfield's vocals with Metallica-esque riffs. Not many bands can pull of comedy with great musicianship (like Beatallica does!). You obviously want your musicianship taken seriously. How did you guys decide on a balance between the two?

Beatallica: Well you just touched on a topic that's really been the biggest struggle of ours--being taken seriously as musicians and writers. Again, we all do various projects and have quite a bit of experience in creation of music and art. The addition of humor has been an asset but also something that nearly takes away all attention from the music itself. There does have to be a check and balance system. We do really strive to remain true to both bands and whatever songs we're dealing with. To be fun with words is one thing but to be fun and creative with the combining of the music is simply another. Sometimes we find more pleasure in the musical compositions rather than the lyrics.

No doubt the lyrics are an important part of the band and we don't plan on changing the direction or construction of any of the Beatallica characters. We do, however, love being creative with all aspects of the band whether it be with music, props, costumes, lyrics, or what have you. It definitely helps that we've known each other for years, have been personal friends more than band mates, and really know what makes the other tick and how to push each other creatively.

As far as the Jaymz voice, well that's always a work in progress. Some things you just train yourself for. It could be a marathon, it could be competitive eating of hot dogs, it could be vocalizing to capture a particular sound. Folks who do impressions have to work at it and add their own twists. It's definitely a fun and evolving challenge!

E.C.: What is your live schedule like? Any "tours" or is it basically localized shows?

Beatallica: We always answer every request that comes in to play live. We seriously get like 3 a week either from club owners, booking agents, other bands, parties (those are fun), etc. These are calls that come in from all over the world, literally. Sometimes it's a bit tough to make things feasible for everyone due to travel, time, club needs, etc. We're currently working on getting ourselves to the east coast and Europe next year.

We want to be able to do a "tour" or a series of mini-tours. We encourage anyone to write into the site and contact us. We have a contact address via the website just for that.

We do know that there are places were going back to like Chicago, Cleveland, and our hometown of Milwaukee. We're also working on getting good representation to assist us in getting everywhere the Beatallibangers want us. We plan on playing often and we'd like to see everyone to say thanks a ton for being there for us! We make each live show we play plenty worth it with antics, props, fun, and musicianship.

E.C.: What is your live show like? Is there comedy, or is it just a straight rock show? I can just picture those Beatles collarless suits worn by musicians with Metallica-length hair!

Beatallica: Hmmm, if you haven't seen us live, you hit the nail on the head regarding costuming. We have a great outfitter here in town and she'll be doing some other Beatle era things for us in the future. We want to display ourselves as Beatles from different points of their career. That'll be really fun.

We've been getting great reviews for our live shows and making new contacts because of them. We must be doing something right. For road shows, it's a bit difficult to bring all our props. We're working on collapsible props for easy transporting. The closer to home shows are chock full of mixed up, goofy props and assorted weirdness.

Sure we put on a rock show but we really try to be true to what our characters have become. We don't do James Hetfield, we do Jaymz Lennfield--a big difference. We realize there is a bit of bombast and almost cartoon humor that goes into this. To display that while we bash heads is a totally good time! We have a tradition now where we invite folks up to sing the end of "Hey Dude" with us. One of these times, the stage is gonna go, we just know it...

E.C.: What's the strangest show you've ever played...

Beatallica: Man, when doing a solo show once (this is Jaymz talking) in Kalamazoo, I spent the night at the club owner's place. He owned the undertakers house in the middle of the cemetery. And let's just say he had very active roommates. I do believe they were undead, as well. Beatallica just did a Halloween show at our bud's place. He lives in a funeral home here in Milwaukee. No lie, the embalming room is still intact. It was on Kliff's birthday just recently.

There was the one where the band that Jaymz and Krk were in together played a local club. The show was shut down after we did 5 tunes. Something to do with a patron being thrown through the fish store window next door and another attendee stage diving and having the crowd below part like the freaking Red Sea. Ka-BOOM! Right on his noggin... I'll stay ON stage, thank you...

E.C.: Just by hearing the music, I can picture in my mind some cool visuals. Have you guys thought of doing any kind of video/DVD?

Beatallica: Actually we just got the raw materials in our hands from a live show done in Milwaukee. We plan on interspersing shots and interviews from El Paso, Chicago, and Cleveland to compile a DVD. That item will be for promo though and won’t be available for sale. That gets into the whole licensing thing, another large topic and the same reason that we release music for free. Eventually we want to have video stuff on our site.

We have gotten offers to do a formal Beatallica video. I think someday that's going to happen. We do want to remain focused on the most important things though: playing live, playing well live, songwriting, and having our business in order without being caught up too much in frills.

E.C.: Your material is available on your website as mp3 downloads. Why did you choose mp3's over the release of an official CD? I just find it ironic that you utilize mp3's after Metallica demonized the whole mp3/Napster culture!

Beatallica: You know, there are a lot of folks out there who think that we formed the band in response to the whole Metallica/Napster issue, or the Apple Records issue. That's really not the case. The "Garage Dayz Nite" disc was put up on the web by our now WebMaster of Puppets, David Dixon. It was simply a project that unexpectedly grew into "some kind of monster". It was on the web for free download, and we plan on keeping downloads free unless some extraordinary events happen like we get signed or we do something for a charitable cause. Even then, we'd like to keep our music free in ways that help spread the word and give bangers something to smile about.

We have gotten recording offers but only if we kept the original lyrics of the Beatles or Metallica. That gets back into that whole cover band idea and we're just not going that route. Cover bands are fine, but not for this project.

We don't think of ourselves as musical rebels of a sort. We just think that the internet is a big ocean for us to swim in and we want to see every part of it. The releasing of music for free download has been a great help to us. Plus, if you release music for free and people dig it, how much better is that than selling a disc that bites? Hopefully, we'll not ever be in that situation.

E.C.: On your website is a quote from Kirk Hammett of Metallica "I think it's cool when people do shit like that. Reinterpret our music and fashion and things. It's not flattery, it's just fun for me.") Has there been any other feedback from the other members? What about the remaining Beatles? I imagine that Paul McCartney won't like it for the simple fact that he hates the Rutles!

Beatallica: Yeah, James and Lars have both commented publicly on us and they've been nothing but cool to us. You can see some of their quotes via our website in the news section or if you download a press kit. Metallica was just here in August and Ringo Larz' sister in law was a massage therapist for them. Of course, she wore a Beatallica shirt and got some looks of surprise from Hetfield! To have the boys on your side is awesome as we don't mean The band, or its practices, to be a slam on Metallica in any way. I'm sure they know that and, hell, they're pretty busy being Metallica to worry about us. Though some bangers out there still insist that we are Metallica just horsing around!

As far as the Beatles, nothing from either Paul or Ringo. I'm not sure what they'd say. We love that band and would love to hear from them someday. But hey, if any of us were marrying models half our age and still out rocking the world, we'd have other things to attend to...

E.C.: If you could open for any band on tour right now, who would it be?

Beatallica: That's sort of a difficult thing to pin point. I mean, who do we really match up with? Maybe someone like Primus? They're fun and fabulous musicians, Les has a tie to Metallica, and Jaymz used to be in a band that opened for Blind Illusion. That's the band Les and Larry were in before Primus. So maybe that would be fun. We'd for sure love to do more work with Mike Portnoy and one of his projects, Dream Theater or Yellow Matter Custard if that ever came around again. That would just seem natural. Plus, he's a great dude.

There are plenty of bands we like but, again, what's the match? Then still, who would've thought there'd be a match between Metallica and The Beatles, hey? When it comes to a working relationship, we really value teamwork and folks banding together to make a situation as smooth as it can be. A show could be billed wonderfully but have all sorts of holes in it because certain performers are jags or people you really don't want to be around. I guess one thing we're really proud of is that we like people, we like to network, we like to forge relationships. I don't know how you can be in this business and truly succeed without that in mind.

There are a bunch of bands from around the globe who have written in and said if we're ever in the area, they'd love to share a show. We'd love to be in places where we're wanted and play with people who are still fans of music, not doing music because it just so happens to be their job.

E.C.: Do your amps go to "11" as well?

Beatallica: Sure our amps go to 11! But after we turn em off, we're ready to go until the sun comes up... Can we crash at your place, Ronnie?

E.C.: Sure! I’ve got a stone circle (sort of a mini-Stonehenge) in my backyard and that would make for a great photo! We can do a cross between Spinal Tap (Stonehenge) and ABBEY ROAD and have Kliff McBurtney barefooted in the photo shoot to start a “Kirk is dead” rumor. That way we can get the group some great publicity!