BPMD Explain Why They Chose Each Song on ‘American Made’ Album With Track-by-Track Breakdown
BPMD is the new outfit featuring metal favorites Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mike Portnoy (Sons of Apollo), Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) and Phil Demmel (Vio-Lence) and they're about to drop their '70s covers album, American Made. In advance of the June 12 release via Napalm Records, the band's members gave Loudwire a track-by-track breakdown of the songs they chose and why they were selected.
Bobby Blitz (vocals):
"Evil" by Cactus: An early '70s cut, it always felt like Cactus were pushing the hard rock boundaries of the era to a 'harder' rock —raw, gritty, gutsy. There were a few artists and tunes that gave you a glimpse of what was to come, let's say heavy metal — these guys and “Evil” did. I didn't know way back then that this was actually an older blues piece written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf. So, when BPMD got our hands on it, we were reimagining the already reimagined — giving a classic a modern edge/new life in 2019 when recorded. The simple side of why I have always loved this tune. Killer band, and it's in my wheelhouse when cranking up the vocal pipes.
"Never in My Life" by Mountain: The Climbing! release was on my radar back in the day, primarily because of "Mississippi Queen." Actually a radio hit of the day, but the deeper cuts are what really caught my ear. Leslie, Felix and Corky were an absolute powerhouse trio, "How the fuck do three guys sound so BIG, with such feel?" I remember a few years back, DD Verni saying Overkill should cover this cut and man my eyes lit up. Talk about revisiting your youth! Well, it wasn't to be, but it never left my mind. So, when BPMD was conceived, “Never in My Life” was my first choice. It was out of my mouth before Mark asked; "What two tracks —'MOUNTAIN, NEVER IN MY LIFE!'— would you pick Blitz?"
Mike Portnoy (drums):
"Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" by Ted Nugent: The first tune I picked was the song that opens the album. When I think of American '70s hard rock, Ted Nugent was awesome. Of course, I had to pull up the Double Live Gonzo! version with the intro — one of the greatest live intros of all time. It was such a classic, and everyone got so off on hearing it. Obviously Blitz ended up recreating his own version to start the album. So that’s what kicks this whole thing into gear.
"Toys in the Attic" by Aerosmith: Actually, believe it or not, I’m not the biggest Aerosmith fan to be honest. I have a lot of friends who are hardcore, but that’s not me, I’m more of a casual fan. There’s no denying those early '70s era Aerosmith songs, they’re classic. This one was always one of my favorite tunes from that period. I thought it would be perfect for this lineup — I pictured thrashing it up a bit and playing a little heavier and make it really cool. Phil [Demmel] does these extra chunky picking patterns. It was also fun singing this one and doing the harmonies. I just knew this one would be perfect, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Mark Menghi (bass):
"Saturday Night Special" by Lynyrd Skynyrd: This song was the catalyst the started BPMD. As I was enjoying a nice (un-social distancing) summer’s night last year, drinking a beer, listening to tunes, making s’mores with the kids, “Saturday Night Special” came on and my son goes “Dad, you guys should play this.” Obviously this wouldn’t work for Metal Allegiance, and all of a sudden I heard guitar parts, drum parts, etc. in my head. I heard an entire arrangement as the song was playing, and I started thinking, “How would I arrange and/or play this tune if it were to be recorded?” And the light bulb went off —as the song was still playing I called [Bobby] Blitz and asked him, “Hey man, I had an idea to cover 'Saturday Night Special,' wanna sing it?” And boom BPMD was born. So with that, “Saturday Night Special” not only started BPMD, but also had to be one of my choices because of the influence of my 8-year-old son. It spawned BPMD, and because it's fucking Skynyrd.
"Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" by ZZ Top: One day as I was Waitin’ for the Bus heading to that little old town in Texas called La Grange wondering if Jesus had left Chicago yet. If you’re familiar with Tres Hombres then you’ll know what I just babbled, haha. Tres Hombres is a masterpiece and possibly one of my Top 5 favorite records of all-time. The blazing guitars of Billy, the simplicity of Dusty, the groove of Frank and the INSANE vocal harmonies that both Billy and Dusty deliver, set this record apart from its peers of the early '70s. No one had this swagger. And I mean no one. I chose "Beer Drinkers" simply because I wanted to see if BPMD could turn into a thrash jam band. The song is structured in the simplest of blues terms and with that, I knew we could have a field day. Between Blitz doing the Dusty vocals and Phil doing the Billy vocals, the Blitz high screams, the chaotic drumming of Portnoy and the insane shredding of Demmel. We go all over the map jamming. There’s actually a few times in this tune the four of us go our separate ways doing our own thing noodling away, but we find our way back to the main verse right on cue/time/key after the thrash/jam fest (completely unplanned), which makes this tune magical to me. What you hear is four dudes in a room jamming together. Even today when I listen to our version of "Beer Drinkers" and we hit the verse after that long chaos part, I still get goosebumps. That’s what music does to me — and my love for ZZ Top is profound.
Phil Demmel (guitar):
"D.O.A." by Van Halen: I was so excited for the second Van Halen record and was so shocked and disappointed by the opening cover song “You’re No Good,” that "D.O.A." actually saved that album for me. So heavy and driving and Eddie just FEELING it! I used to deliver newspapers with this song BLARING from my tape recorder and pissing off anyone within earshot. This one was a no-brainer and instant decision for me (even though Mike had it on his wishlist for “group” choices).
"Tattoo Vampire" by Blue Oyster Cult: Probably THE deepest cut on this record. I was a huuuuuge BÖC fan and wanted Vio-lence to cover this song back in the late '80s (the verse riff can actually be heard on “12 Gauge Justice” from the Vio record Nothing to Gain). I always felt it had the potential to be made really heavy. Mike had suggested a Ramones-type drum beat in the beginning and with that, we sped it up and it took a life of its own. BÖC’s very own Buck Dharma adds a solo to make this a very legit effort. Might be my favorite of the 10.
"We’re an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad: This one HAD to be covered. A rocker through and through. From cowbell to singing about groupies/booze/poker/hotel security, it has it all. My cousin Ron let me borrow his see-through yellow vinyl and I instantly fell in love with song, even if I was too young to know what Sweet, Sweet Connie’s “Act” was.—Phil Demmel
We did the vote for the last two cuts, real democratic. We all were instantly in agreement on Grand Funk Railroad's, "We’re An American Band" — a no brainer. Shit, I was singing that tune in the shower back in the '70s into a back brush, besides that it was the cherry on top for the parameters of the project American Made! —Bobby Blitz
"Walk Away" by The James Gang: This track was suggested by Mike, a true slice of '70s Americana RnR. Joe Walsh being at the forefront and in the American fabric since then! I think of it as one of the more unusual cuts on the record, but nonetheless by session’s end, it ran up the flag pole with the BPMD mark on it, with some of Phil's finest work on the album! —Bobby Blitz
The American Made album is already off to a solid start with the band's cover of "Evil" being released. It will be available in CD, LP and digital formats and is available to pre-order ahead of the June 12 street date at this location. Take a listen to "Evil" and check out the album artwork and track listing below.
BPMD, American Made Artwork + Track Listing
1. Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
2. Toys in the Attic
4. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
5. Saturday Night Special
6. Tattoo Vampire (featuring Buck Dharma of Blue Öyster Cult)
8. Walk Away
9. Never in My Life
10. We're an American Band
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