Keeping It Real with The BulletBoys
The BulletBoys are back and keeping it real and lively! 2015 was an epic year for the long running Los Angeles-based band – with their release of the mighty Elefante’ and an appearance at Cathouse House Live At Irvine Meadows, one could sense a massive comeback in the making. And now with a brand new year, the BulletBoys find themselves playing a good number of live shows in Hollywood and beyond.
Co-headlining with Faster Pussycat at the world famous Whisky on the Sunset Strip at the start of 2016, the BulletBoys were on fire, delivering a sonic artillery consisting of their classics ans well as Elefante’ selections – including their scorching cover of the Elton John classic The Bitch Is Back. Prior to the powerhouse set, we caught up with Bulletboy’s founder and frontman Marq Torien for a interview backstage at The Whisky to discuss a wide range of intriguing topics. Read on…
Compare the new album Elefante’ to the classic BulletBoys releases.
Marq: It is a new breed. It is an album that we worked extremely hard on for 2-1/2 years. We wanted to pull BulletBoys kicking and screaming into the new millennium. Compared to the others you really can’t compare it because BulletBoys, we’ve always been known for diverse albums. Our first one wasn’t the same as our second, the second wasn’t the same as the third but they all found some congruence somehow. This one basically was – we wanted to do what we wanted to do and put out something that we were proud of. We wanted to do something special, so that we weren’t reliving the past or trying to jump into the future. We did something that we felt that if we like it first, we hoped that everybody else would appreciate it.
Is there any story / concept behind the title of the album?
Marq: Yes. Elefante’ was titled for my father, Joseph Maytorena. He reveres the elephant with all of his heart, and loves elephants and I wanted to do it kind of like a tribute – a living tribute to him because I just love him and my mother. They’ve been so supportive of this band and me for many many years and I get a lot of my musical prowess from my father.
Was he in a band?
Marq: Yes. My father played first trombone in a couple of really big orchestras, the Stan Kenton Orchestra and a couple of other big bands. He also has a 25 piece big band called Joe May Tuxedo Junction, I believe is still the name of the band, and they tour here in LA.
Talk about the lyrics to “Symphony.”
Marq: I went through a really terrible divorce and that inspired that song. I wanted to let people know that if they went through something awful or something where they felt defeated in life, that if you just hold on tight enough and you believe with all your might that love somehow will find its way and prevail. We’re not really preachy guys, but lyrically we wanted to have things where bands of our genre aren’t really doing on Elefante’. So we wanted to have some lyrical content, especially from me, that showed people that I’ve taken a lot of slack in my career, I’ve taken a lot of bullying, a lot of hating, but there’s a lot of people that are very, very supportive that are friends, family and fans. This album was for them. These lyrics are for them and the people that really believe, even as an underdog, that we can still achieve a greatness somehow sometimes.
Kinfolk is a great song, what inspired the lyrics to that song?
Marq: Faith. Faith in our higher power, who is God and how we have – there are so many diverse religions but I feel that we all have the same glorious, beautiful, loving God that looks over us. I wanted to write something for that. I haven’t really wrote anything on that level. I love southern fried rocks and rock. Of course I have a very diverse musical background, but I wanted to bring something that you haven’t heard in awhile. I’m a big Skynyrd fan. I love a lot of these bands. We all do, so I wanted to write something that was more of a heartfelt type where people could listen and go, “Man just don’t like the BulletBoys, but I really like that song.”
The Bitch is Back, what made you decide to cover that song and has Sir Elton heard it?
Marq: Yes, big Elton John fans because we grew up with Elton John. It’s something that we really wanted to do, that’s kind of a new arrangement. Bringing the guitars a little more up and making it a bit more punk rock sounding. I think we achieved it. I love that tune! It wasn’t going to go on the record at first. We’re big fans of Elton John, so, it’s a big tribute to him and we just love him to death. I hope that one of these days he gets the chance to bend an ear and listen to it. It would be amazing.
You’ve done a lot of covers in the past. Have any of the artists you’ve covered actually heard them and have commented?
Marq: Oh yeah, “For The Love of Money” by The O’Jays. It was my idea to do it on the first record because of – my background was in R&B music. I was signed with Motown. I had come from a real R&B, Rock and Roll, Punk Rock background, Jazz. It’s so diverse.
What was the experience like at Cathouse Live for you?
Marq: Besides the sweltering heat? [laughs] It was a challenge. The four of us all believe in challenges. When someone puts something in front of us that we may not think would be the best circumstances, it’s a challenge for us to persevere. In 104 degrees we went on and the sun was right on us, and by the grace of God we were able to throw down and throw down at a high level. It was for the fans we were there. I really appreciate everything that Livenation did for that show, we love Livenation and want to thank them for letting us be on that bill.
What can one expect from a live Bulletboys show in 2016?
Marq: We leave it all out on the table. I mean, there’s not a show we don’t play. We play every show like it’s our last. We don’t do it on purpose, it’s the energy of all four of us. We really believe in what we’re doing. We have all our hats in the barrel. We don’t have any tapes, there’s not a huge live show. We’re very punk rock, plug in and play. Real backgrounds, the real deal. I wish more bands would play like that.
Who is the dog on the Sophie cover?
Marq: That was my dog Sophie. She was mine and my ex’s dog. She passed away at a very young age. I love animals, we’re big dog people. All of us, cat people, animal people. I wanted to put her on the front cover because I missed her so much and she was such a loving soul. I thought it would be great to dedicate the record to her.
The Scorpions, have they heard your cover of Falling In Love?
Marq: I don’t know – “Falling in Love.” It’s one of my favorite Scorpions songs ever. That’s why I cut that. I got an opportunity to do that song, I love that song! I got a chance to play the guitar, the whole thing. It was a lot of fun.
Then of course your Christmas song. What inspired that?
Marq: Oh my god, I think a lot of alcohol and chemical refreshment back in the day [laughs]. That was a bad scene for us, we were out of control back then but we had a lot of fun.
What’s up next for you guys now that 2016 is here?
Marq: Keeping it real. Keeping it real for our fans. We’re going to be bringing a lot of Elefante’ this next year for all the shows we’ll be playing. We’re going to be playing some very high profile shows this year, we feel very fortunate for that. We’re going to be signed with a new management company that we’re very excited about. We haven’t had management probably in 20 years. We’re really excited about it. Expect the unexpected from the BulletBoys. There’s never a dull moment with us because you never know what you’re going to get. We’re not a pre-programmed band, we play from our hearts and we play because we really mean it. We’re here for our fans and our new fans, family and friends. That’s what keeps us motivated, family.
Do you have any messages for your fans?
Marq: That we love them with all our hearts and I know they say that they love us, but we love them way more. Thank you for being there for us and being such stalwart fans for us, when other people have said bad things about us, you guys are always sticking up for us. To know we always got their backs, musically and we’re just going to keep it real. There are a lot of bands that are falling out. We lost some amazing artists here this past month. Shout out to the great Lemmy Kilmister, who was our brother. He always said wonderful things to us and was such a loving soul to all of us here on the Sunset Strip. People that really knew him. Also a shout out to our brother who I’m going to miss terribly, who was just one of the most amazing frontmen, if not the most amazing frontman that we’ve ever had, Scott Weiland. I know a lot of us go through different things, I had demons with drugs and alcohol and I know how hard of a fight that is. But, I know he’s in heaven right now singing with Ronnie and Lemmy. We really miss these guys. These were our predecessors, when we were young they’d come over and give us good advice when they didn’t have to – that isn’t around anymore, huh Shaun?
Shawn Duncan (drums): They were role models as much as they were rockstars. You know what? How big was the response from the fanbase, it’s not because they lost a rock star. It’s because they feel like they lost a friend. That’s what these guys were to a lot of people.
Marq: To all of us. People don’t realize, they always see the music and the magic and what the persona may be. You look at a guy like Lemmy. When Miles turned 18, we were celebrating his birthday and we’re at The Rainbow and we knew Lemmy so it was “Lemmy, come and take a picture with my son!” He’s like, “OK for you. Fuck off.” He says “don’t smile, look cool.” Aight! He was just rad, all those guys. I’ve had so many amazing musicians in my life when I was young. I was just very privileged to be texting Tommy Lee today, congratulating him and the guys on an amazing journey for all of us. An amazing career, I just love them so much. I love Tommy, Nikki, Vince and Mick. I’ve known them since way back in the day. I sent them a couple of things from the Troubadour, like tickets when they first played on New Year’s Eve. Woah! Cats like that, I really love people in this business that don’t have any of these airs. Who know we’re all in this world together and no matter what you’ve done, just be who you do. [laughs] Just be who you are. I’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of great celeb friends who are very behind our careers and doing what we’re doing.
Marq Torien – vocals, guitar, bass, congas (1987–present)
Nick Rozz – guitar (2010-2011, 2012–present)
Chad MacDonald – bass, backing vocals (2011)
Shawn Duncan – Drums (2014–present)
(Interview and Backstage Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Jack Lue)
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