Sometimes, when you're busy enjoying the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, it's easy to forget about the rock 'n' roll. During stints in punk-rock hell-raisers The Heart Attacks and then Poison Arrows, Biters frontman Tuk Smith learned this lesson the brutally hard way.
"One guy in my band [Poison Arrows] ended up overdosing and dying," he tells us, in the thick of our conversation. "I woke up next to my friend and he was dead on the floor, next to where I'd been sleeping.
Suddenly all the books about Mötley Crüe and the Johnny Thunders stereotypes are really not important anymore
"Suddenly all the books about Mötley Crüe and the Johnny Thunders stereotypes are really not important anymore. It's not funny… I just got tired of feeling like shit and not doing anything."
Biters is Tuk's rallying call. A band that focuses its destructive energy into something positive: in this case, punchy power-pop delivered with punk aggression. Recent album Electric Blood is packed with beating-heart belters: part Ramones, part T-Rex. The production is modern, but the songs themselves feel like a crate-digger's lost 70s gems. And it's the same with the gear used…
Rare rock beasts
"My main guitar is a really rare one," explains Tuk. "It's not an expensive model, but there just weren't a lot of them made. It's a GGC-700, a Gibson guitar from 1982. It's got a Sonex-style body, but with a bolt-on neck and some big humbuckers that I've bolted down, so it sounds pretty ripping. Then my amp is a Marshall JCM800, but it's the Canadian kind, and they're pretty rare, too."
Tuk's co-guitarist Matt Gabs is more traditional, favouring a '72 Gibson Les Paul with a Marshall JMP, but he's still a rare beast himself. "It's been really difficult just finding people that are even just into this type of music right now," says Tuk. "That's why I think it's so special that we're four guys who have the same goal."
That focus is called for. Any success Biters have had has been hard-won, but now the band have the backing of Earache Records and a sizeable UK tour on the cards for October, it might just be working out for them.
"You need to believe in yourself so other people can," concludes Tuk. "I'm not going to blindly follow a trend, or hop on a bandwagon. I'm not going to incorporate those EDM breakdowns in my music. I don't need validation from other people. If you can have that belief, you can really do some powerful things."
- For fans of: Ramones, T-Rex, KISS
- Hear: Low Lives In Hi Definition