Chuck Garric is a multidimensional, tattooed ball of energy, as anyone who’s seen him onstage with Alice Cooper or singing and performing with E.S.P. can attest. It’s always occurred to me that he’d be a perfect frontman in his own project. Thankfully, Chuck has made great use of his rare down time with the Alice Cooper Band and has a kickass new vehicle to do just that. The band is called Beasto Blanco (named after his dog, we’ll get to that), they recently did some touring with Kulick and Corabi over in Europe and Chuck was kind enough to fill us all in on what else inspires him and of course, what it’s like to work with the legendary Coop, read on……
LRI: Thanks for talking to me Chuck. I’ve interviewed some of the other Alice Cooper group guys like Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway and Kane Roberts but have never had the pleasure of talking with a member of the new band. You guys sound as awesome as ever of course but the first time you really came on my radar was in the band E.S.P. where you just blew me away singing some of the classic Gene Simmons material, was that a fun project, do you think you’ll ever pick back up with that?
A: Right on, thank you….E.S.P. is kind of on hold now with Eric Singer being so busy with KISS and Corabi and Kulick with their projects and then me with Alice and Beasto Blanco. We’re all pretty busy and it’s something that we can only do when everyone’s schedule is open so that’s not too often. It is a totally fun thing for us though and it’s a chance to go out and just do some stuff we enjoy doing and kinda relax. We love playing music together and the fans seem to love it too and it’s just a real fun, no-pressure thing when we get the opportunity to do it.
LRI: I’ve seen the video for “Breakdown” and downloaded the three tracks on Amazon and I am diggin Beasto Blanco. How did this project come to be?
A: It’s a brand new thing that’s been burnin inside my blood for the last couple of years and I’m really excited about it. I’ve always been a songwriter and I’ve always sang and have wanted to do my own project for a long time now. I came across Tommy Henriksen who worked with us on Alice’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare record and we started talking about doing some new material. As soon as he and I started talking about it was about the time it started taking on a life for me. I got really excited about the concept of getting into the studio and making these songs come to life. We really didn’t know what the identity of the band would be like going into it or what to expect but we had a blast and it just turned out absolutely killer. The three songs are available now on iTunes and Amazon and all that but we are already in the process of working on a full length release soon. The response thus far, since we launched the website and put the tunes out there, has been really, really good. The Alice fans, the hard rock fans, everyone is really diggin it and excited to hear more.
LRI: You have the ability to do some Beasto Blanco dates and still continue with Alice Cooper which is really the best of both worlds. Do you feel fortunate for that?
Chuck: It’s nice, it really is nice to have the ability to be able to do that, to be able to be out there and promote our own projects. That’s something I’ve never really done before and I’ve been with Alice for over ten years. I’ve never been out there handing out flyers or promoting myself as “Chuck Garric” because I wanted to have something to promote other than “Hey, look at me, I’m the bass player guy”. I wanted to have a real project and give people something they could see and hear and be a part of in terms of the music. I’m just now starting to take a little more advantage of the fact that I’m out there visibly and getting the fans reactions not just to Alice but to Beasto Blanco and what I’m doing.
LRI: Orianthi (Alice Cooper guitarist) has her own solo work and you’re both able to stay in that high profile limelight with Alice. Is it me or does that just speak volumes about Alice Cooper as an individual?
Chuck: Yeah, yeah it does. Alice is not threatened by anybody or anything, he has always just conquered. He always has and he always will. He has a real high self-confidence and believes in what he’s doing so it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the band does because he has so much conviction in his own thing. When Alice brought any of us in, he knew we were talented and he believed in us and he continues to believe in us. Any time Alice gets a chance to talk about Beasto Blanco on his radio show, Nights With Alice Cooper, he’s all about it. He really believes in us and our projects. Calico Cooper, his daughter, sings background vocals on our lead single and video, “Breakdown”, which was awesome and he’s just a very supportive dude. Obviously when we’re out there touring Alice Cooper comes first but in the meantime or the downtime he is more than willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we’re all happy and successful. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
LRI: You also have something else in your favor. Most bands have to go through a living hell in order to arrive at a concept or a logo not to mention the name of their band but you came up with a bitchin name that kind of reflects the Alice/Rob Zombie nature of the music itself. What were the origins of “Beasto Blanco” as a band name?
Chuck: That’s really cool of you to say man because that is a hard, hard thing to come up with and like I said before, when Tommy and my friend and guitarist Chris Latham and I started working on this we really did struggle with the identity of the band right out the gate. We had these great songs and we knew we had great songs that had something of an identity by themselves. Then at the same time, I am looking at guys like Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie and seeing the fact that offstage when you hang out with them, Rob or Alice are not in character at all times but when they get onstage or in studio behind a microphone they ARE that character. I wanted to channel something or become something when I’m up there as well and Beasto Blanco the name came from my dog, she’s just this huge white monster so we call her Beasto Blanco. It just kind of came about one day sitting in a room thinking about how we’ve gotta come up with a name and I look over at my dog who’s chasing another dog and comes back and she’s all excited to see me and I just love her excitement and her wild energy. The name was sort of born after her but also out of the fact that I needed to give the band some sort of identity and have it be something that just stuck in your mind.
LRI: You mentioned working with Calico Cooper who I just think is awesome. She’s a chip off the old blocks, her mom was amazing as part of the onstage Alice show and she just seamlessly picks up. What is she like to work with onstage or in the studio?
Chuck: Calico is amazing. If you put a flashlight in front of her face she can entertain you, she is as comfortable a performer as I have ever seen. We have always told Calico from the moment we met her, “You should have your own band Calico, you should have your own band” just because she is so talented and so entertaining. That’s the beauty of Calico Cooper. She wants to pursue the acting thing and I can respect that but at the same time when we wrote these Beasto Blanco songs it was in the back of my mind “Now, who can we get to sing these female parts that we want in them?” and as soon as Calico’s name came up it was blindingly obvious that was the person we should use. She had never heard the material and I just told her what we wanted her to do and she nailed it, so much so that we ended up using her on a couple more songs because she has such a phenomenal voice and because she is able to match the intensity of the sound of Beasto Blanco.
LRI: Pulling double duty with Alice might make it difficult to book many tour dates for Beasto other than off nights or in between tours but it would also make it very rewarding when you can play.
Chuck: Exactly. Right now, things are going very well, as well as could be expected as far as shows go and there is a lot of interest in booking us which is great. At the same time, we are really focused on releasing a full length and giving the fans a quality show based around a complete record. We’ve got the merch and the single/Ep but touring behind the full record… That is the number one thing for this band at this point.
LRI: What kind of stuff is inspiring the Beasto Blanco material that you’ve generated up to this point?
Chuck: A lot of times I will sing a melody and throw down a couple of words that seem to fit within that melody and a lot of times that seems to help me get a visual of what the song might feel like or be about. A lot of times I go from there or a lot of times I just tend to write lyrics based on what fits the music that’s coming out. I try to be somewhat inspiring, I want Beasto Blanco to be one of those bands that is like “Hey, believe in yourself, go for it, work hard” kind of message that is cool but at the same time it’s also just kind of cool to have the lyrics just kind of blend in with the music and not beat you over the head with any kind of over the top message other than a cool riff. I try to treat the vocals just like any other instrument so that whatever comes out just sounds good or feels good. I’ve always been a fan of walking into a club or seeing some band I don’t know and the first couple of songs just slam you to the point where you just become a fan instantly. That’s really what I want this band to be about rather than any straightforward lyrical message. To me, that’s pure rock and roll and as this whole Beasto Blanco thing continues to take shape it seems to be writing its own story which is completely open to interpretation. I think that’s really cool and the people I have around me continue to inspire me and develop this whole thing and it continues to just develop on its own. I’m beyond excited about it.
LRI: You’re playing some really nice, big venues right now with Alice Cooper and of course you are going to have to sweat it out a bit in the smaller theaters and clubs with your own project. Zakk Wylde mentioned to me that he thinks both can be just as rewarding, are you finding that to be interesting or challenging?
Chuck: I agree 100% on that. I think some of that goes back to my learning that from working with Ronnie James Dio or even with Alice, sometimes we’re playing in places that are of course big, big rooms or festivals but other times maybe its a smaller place or there’s multiple shows going on the same night and it’s not filled to capacity. It doesn’t matter to Alice. Alice goes out there and gives them the same effort, the same show every night. It’s always 100% because that’s all he knows how to do and that’s the exact approach I am taking to Beasto Blanco. I believe that if you want something you’re going to have to work hard for it and you’re going to have to prove yourself to the people. I’m not expecting people to just jump on my bandwagon because I play with Alice Cooper. I’ve obviously made a name for myself doing that but I cannot forget that I also need to make a name for myself as singer of Beasto Blanco. I’ll go out there and sweat it out for sure man, I’ll sleep in the gutters if I have to, if that’s what it takes to get the name out there.
LRI: You’re obviously doing a good job of being all over the social media and YouTube/internet thing but even considering that do you think word of mouth about live shows is still a huge thing for bands?
Chuck: I do, I do. I remember when I was a kid this band everyone kept telling me about they were called Metallica. They were just this club band but the word spread so quickly about Metallica and how you had to go see them. They weren’t plugging the record as much as how you needed to see this band and I think that if that word of mouth from those live shows where the band was clearly all in and all into it hadn’t happened then maybe people wouldn’t have identified or been as into it. I think that if you make music that is real and true to yourself first and foremost it is readily apparent to people and they will start believing in you. You can’t just expect people to like it or try to force feed your music to people, that’s what’s wrong with so much of music nowadays. You’ve got all these American Idols and kids who haven’t even cut their teeth on anything yet but you’re just supposed to like them because they’re playing other people’s proven material so well. I’m just not like that, I have to connect with it and feel it and I think there’s still a lot of people out there who can also relate to that and I want them to be a part of Beasto Blanco from the ground up.