By: Libby Freeman
Recently had a chance to sit down w/ SoCal beat maker/rhyme slinger, Besatree after the release of "Biting the Hand That Feeds" to talk about punk rock, hip hop, and his many projects...Enjoy!
Punk Globe: First off, I know you're a busy man, so thanks a heap for making the time to let the PG readers know what you've been up to. That said, many may be more familiar w/ your mid 1990's - early 2000's presence in the grind/thrash/hardcore scene. Care to give us a refresher on the bands you were involved w/ in those early days?
Besatree: Absolutely. The first real put together (meaning we played shows/recorded etc) band I was involved in was Almost Dead... started around 1998 or so, was pretty straight forward punk rock. Did have one self-released album Fighting A Pacifist War. We were together for a couple years and then just all kind of strayed to new projects. At that time I was mainly just playing guitar/screaming and occasionally playing drums. After Almost Dead... I played guitar in a band called Lachance for about a year before moving on to start a thrash band called Put Him In A Bodybag. By this time I had moved from guitar to playing drums, we had one album titled Homogenized that was self-released around 2002. We only lasted about a year and a half before splitting. This is where things started to shift for me, I got my own computer. This opened an entire world of music I never would've guessed would grip me the way it did. So here's what happened, around late 2002/2003 I ended up using this weird drum machine program called D-Sampler or something like that, basically a free, super cheesy wav sampler program. I made 15 grimey drum tracks with weird sound effects and whatnot mixed in and threw it online to download for free, fairly shortly after that I was contacted by a guy known as Swiz (best known for Electrocutionerdz) from Quebec, Canada who wanted to collaborate with me on the tracks. I was more than happy to do be involved so we got started immedietly. We named ourselves the Crime Scene Escapists and about 6 months later came out with our first and only release Slashing Tires With An AK47. We tried collaborating some more after the initial release but by that time I think we both already had other projects going on as well as me dealing with some personal issues at the time.
Punk Globe: Can you tell the PG readers about your work w/ SyringeDotSyringe?
Besatree: Maybe the oddest band so far, but definitely was fun. We were just basically experimenting all the time, using anything we could find to mix things up. Ended up being a fairly obscure combination of hip hop, grind and electronica. We had one released called Into The Heavens, Into The Weeds. SyringeDotSyringe was basically abandoned once we brought in a couple female friends of ours to do guest vocals on a track, the outcome was so great that we just stopped all SyringeDotSyringe and renamed our foursome Sad Sadder Suicide. This band was far different from the rest, a lot of acoustic guitar, light melodies, harmonizing etc. Right before the album was finished we just fell apart. I think the most release that saw was us handing it to a couple friends here and there. It's around this time that I got involved in The Murder Book, straight up hardcore. I strictly did vocals in this band, no instrumentation. So, besides miscellaneous projects here and there, The Murder Book was the last band I was in. From this point I mainly was working on new music from the computer. My interest had been peeked, gained and locked up for electronic music. I had slowly been gaining interest in hip hop since 2000 or so but my whole balance really switched from more of the grind and thrashcore over to hip hop around 2005. That was the year I started freestyling with my cousin Werm to others instrumental tracks. Quickly after, I made the decision to really push myself in this new direction, towards something that (now that I look back) I think I had been wanting to do for a long time... Hip Hop. I gave myself the name besatree from some silly inside joke that still isn't funny and started pushing out beats as much as possible. Also started writing and recording as often as I could find time. Now, I still work on music nearly everyday in some aspect or another, but I also find myself taking more time on each track and really thinking a lot more about how the whole story flows and works together. That's music though, progress...Life's progress.
Punk Globe: Any memorable performing stories from the early years you'd like to share?
Besatree: Couple fantastic shows with Lachance no doubt. Those guys were wild as hell! My favorite with them was a show at this (now extinct) tiny little record store called Fast Luck Records. The place was so small we barely fit our gear in there. Either way, about half way through the show we had a couple friends push through the crowd in masks and underwear throwing marshmallows at everyone. Turned surreal very quickly, 50 or 60 kids smashed in a tiny room, blaring music and marshmallows flying everywhere... was bad ass!
Punk Globe: When did you first start experimenting w/ making music? What groups/bands did you find particularly inspiring as a youngster?
Besatree: Started with music as far back as I can remember. One of the first presents I remember getting is a small size acoustic guitar, my Dad has always been a big pusher of music playing. He's been rocking a guitar/banjo since the day I was born. As far as really digging in and trying to create my own music, I would say I started around age 14 or 15, before that I was practicing guitar and drums to my favorite bands (ie Screeching Weasel, The Queers,The Ramones).
Punk Globe: So, around mid 2005 you started freestyling and experimenting w/in the self stylized genre of "slop hop," becoming Besatree, proper. I feel a similar experience as an enthusiast/listener. Can you tell the PG readers what inspired this genre shift?
Besatree: Basically, I called it slop hop because I felt what I was creating was kind of sloppy, not in a dirty or bad way, but because it always had a home made feel to me. I suppose kind of in the same way that punk or folk music isn't always totally polished, has a gritty type feel to it. I like that.
Punk Globe: Any interesting observations/reflections about the similarities between hip hop and punk rock?
Besatree: Hell yes! So much of punk rock and hip hop are saying the same thing it's ridiculous. Just in different ways. You can hear the same message of equality, or vegetarianism, or just going and getting smashed at the bar in a hip hop song just as easily as a punk rock song. I honestly feel that for me, hip hop is a kind of grown up punk rock. One of the rappers I feel comes off punk in his rhymes is Qwel. Definitely check Qwel.
Punk Globe: I was fortunate enough to catch a few of your shows at Friar Tucks in Pomona and couldn't get over how responsive the crowd was. They loved the hell out of you! I've also noticed that you seem to be fond of sampling people like Contingent Omega and in general seem to like to involve fellow musicians/m.c.'s into your work. What I'm getting at is that there seems to be an overwhelming spirit of camaraderie and friendship that makes a clear trail from production/creation directly to the stage. Care to share your thoughts on this?
Besatree: Well first off, thanks a ton for the kind words. As far as collaborations and working with others, definitely enjoy the time to do so. I actually used to sample The Contingent Omega quite a bit, these days I just pull him straight in the studio and we collaborate together. Honestly, I have no major desire to run up on stage alone. I just don't see the fun in it, I want a partner up there to be having fun with, someone to share the memory with. The last show I did was by myself and it was fun no doubt, but I seem to feel that extra spark of excitement when I have a cohort up there with the same intentions as mine. I'm going up to have fun and hopefully entertain people, who wouldn't want a friend/comrade on stage, ya know?!
Punk Globe: Who have you been creating w/ lately?
Besatree: I am continuously working with kserious of The Contingent Omega, and the two of us are now working with the fine fellows from Wckr Spgt and putting together a totally new live set.
Punk Globe: I hear you have an upcoming show w/ Wckr Spgt. Could you give the PG readers some venue details and a date?
Besatree: (Laughs) Unfortunately not much. We don't have a date set in stone yet but I'm quite sure it will be in October at The Blackwatch Pub in Upland, CA. We just started working with the guys a couple weeks ago in order to get something prepped for September. Can always get updates from though.
Punk Globe: Do you have a link to a Besatree FB page share? Any other links so the PG readers can check out your stuff?
Besatree: For sure, is where you can find all links/info/free album downloads/everything besatree related. Otherwise, I would recommend just doing a quick search for besatree on any of the major sites, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Punk Globe: Thanks again for choppin' it up w/ PG! Any parting words for the readers?
Besatree: Just thanks to all for the love and support. Keep your eyes peeled for new freebies all the time at Tell a friend! Let's keep music with a heart alive!!