This was scheduled to be the lead interview in the spring issue…before my old laptop died and took the spring issue with it. Scott H. Biram is a one-man band from Austin. By phone, he discussed becoming a one-man band, touring extensively, and what he would be doing if he weren’t making music.
I’ve tinkered with enough instruments to know that mastering one is hard. What compelled you to become a one-man band?
It was just a necessity for wanting to play shows. My bands broke up. I had a bluegrass band, and a punk-metal band. I was already doing this singer-songwriter thing. Once the bands broke up, I still wanted to tour. I toured just playing acoustic for a while. I realized I wanted to play rock clubs again. That’s more my style. So I had to do things to be able to compete with rock bands. Really, it just happened. I wasn’t inspired by any specific one-man band. It was all just a need to be on the road and a need to be something more than that singer-songwriter pansy ass.
I spoke to Cory Branan once and asked if people are surprised by his energy on stage. He said he has to do that so he doesn’t come across as a sensitive singer-songwriter type.
When I think of singer-songwriters, I just think of that bad acoustic guitar pickup sound. It makes me feel disgusted, so I don’t want to be that guy.
How long did it take you to put it all together?
It went from an acoustic thing to me stomping on the floor to me adding my vocals through an amplifier to me having something to stomp on. It’s been ever-evolving. It’s still evolving. It’s been 16 years I’ve been doing it as a one-man band. I think it’s going to keep changing until I get a band or something.
I just play acoustic guitar at home all the time. My writing and practice is me playing acoustic. Sometimes, when I play a song onstage, it’s the first time I’ve played it electric with the stomper. I try to play about 30 miles south of my hometown. I get a gig there and they’re like my guinea pig audience. I can play for two and a half hours and just get my chops back. We’re reeling it back now. We’ve got a new stragegy for when I’m playing. My Austin shows are going to be fewer than they used to be. For me, I would just keep playing as often as I could in Austin and my tour shows would be the big ones where I only come once a year. My manager and my booking agent want to turn Austin into another one of those places where I only play three or four times a year instead of 11.
Is that just to get you on the road more?
It’s to build my crowd in Austin. It’s so people don’t look at my shows in Austin and say, “Oh, we can just see him next time.” It’s music business bullshit. I don’t know. I just play music and manage managers and booking agents. I’ve been getting pretty burned out because I’m on the road 150 to 200 days a year. I need some camping time and time to build inspiration, and get in touch with reality again. The Booking Agent Blues, is that what I have to write?
That’s been a recurring theme in interviews. Musicians love being on the road, but realize they need their time at home to recharge.
It’s not even so much about being on the road. It’s that when you’re not on the road, the planning of being on the road is still happening. Even when you’re home, you’re still thinking about the road. I’m planning three or four tours ahead of time. I have an album that came out February 4th. I have a live DVD that’s in the can waiting to be put out after that. Hopefully that buys me some time and I can do some camping, or the beach.
You mentioned the new album. How does it compare to previous albums?
Nothin’ but Blood – one of my favorite albums of 2014 so far
It’s got a lot more covers than my last four or five records. Once I got signed to Bloodshot, I really started to focus on a lot more originals and a lot fewer covers. This album, there were some songs I wanted to cover and get out there. I’ve had them for a while. It’s still in the same vein. I consider my reords like an actual record of what’s happening with me musically. I come up with songs and I want to record them so they don’t get lost. Sometimes they get put to the side for four or five years. There’s always the chance that the’ll get lost, or I’ll forget how to play them. I try to get what I have going as soon as possible.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
I’d still be making music. I’d be a producer. If I weren’t touring and making music, I’d be in the studio. At this point I have so much experience booking and managing. If I didn’t do music at all, I’d probably do something that would have me driving. I like to drive. I like being on the move. I’m done with the fucking food industry. That’s for sure. I love cooking. I cook five nights a week at home. But within two days of being back on the road, I’m thinking of what I’ll cook when I get home. I’ve been getting into cooking briskets overnight. I’ve got all kinds of stuff.
What are some things you think about cooking when you’re on the road?
I’ve got this recipe for beef tips that I tweaked from a cookbook. Spinach enchiladas – that’s my mom’s recipe. Spaghetti and meatballs from scratch. I love grilling. I grill out probably three times a week.