THE Black Country is the natural home for Heavy Metal and...
the most primal, exciting music. If you have not heard of the brilliant Buzzard; they can be assessed thus:
“Buzzard are a hard rock power trio hailing from The Black Country. England. The band was formed in 2011 by James Croutear (Guitarist / Vocals) and Andy Vernon (Bassist / Vocals) glued together with the addition of Justin James (Drums) Buzzard is full of attitude with definitive punk overtones, heavily influenced by bands such as Nirvana, Motorhead, Seether, Black Stone Cherry, Airbourne, Heavens Basement, Royal Blood and QOTSA etc”.
Being a fan of stablemates WEAK13; I was excited to find out more from the guys and how their music comes together. Buckle yourselves in and prepare the enter the mad, intoxicating and heavy-hitting world of Buzzard.
Hi guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. It’s been a typically busy week but good fun and exciting thanks.
Buzzard might be new to many eyes. How would you describe the band?
We are a hard-hitting power trio. Our music is inspired by some of the great bands of history such as Nirvana, Motörhead; AC/DC and The Sex Pistols… we could go on for a while but those seem to be the main drivers that mixed together produce our sound.
You guys have a real connection and love in the ranks. How did the group get together?
Thank you; we are so pleased that that comes across. Our beginnings are a lengthy tale, but in brief, the band was formed by founding members Andy and Jimmy in 2011- following the demise of their previous covers band from which their friendship began. Buzzard was originally (also) a covers band but quickly became an original project after the success of our debut album; classics being penned such as No Quit, SNTV; The Line, Friends & Foes- we do still play the odd cover in our live set.
Valium Gorilla's is your upcoming release. I believe the title is a nod to Lemmy. Are Motörhead particularly vital to your sound? What is it about the band that is so special?
Yes. It’s our way of thanking Motörhead and Lemmy for the music- which mutually inspired us more than any other band- remembering a musician and band who most people within the Rock community will have found some connection with due to their universal accessibility. After Lemmy’s death, we read about a quote (of Lemmy) regarding his vocals saying that he thought he sounded like a gorilla on Valium. Our latest music video and single Kamikaze (directed by Nick J. Townsend): we would like to think best backs up this explanation
Kamikaze is the latest video/single from you guys. Who came up with the idea for the song? I can imagine this is a song that goes down really well in the live setting?
Yes. Kamikaze is the second single to be taken from our upcoming album which is a follow-up to our debut album, All Roads Lead To.
The song itself was actually collectively written around about a year ago; amongst other tracks that we have been placing into our live sets along with the more known debut album songs. It has always gone down well live- due to its fast freight train like hard-hitting nature. Heavy music has always had a hard-hitting and working-class, industrial feel to it- which resonates well with the industrial heritage of the Black Country- for example, Diamond Head, who we actually had the pleasure of supporting earlier this year, and they couldn’t have been a nicer bunch of guys; an amazing gig.
In terms of the bands and influences you chaps grew up with: which were particularly important?
We each have diverse influences and roots that, once combined, make up the overall vibe of Buzzard.
Andy: From a very early age, I have always been around Rock and Blue. Having grown up in a biking family; listening great bands such as Deep Purple and Nazareth. Moving into Thrash-Metal and Grunge in my teens- with bands such as Metallica with the late, great Cliff Burton on bass. Megadeth and Nirvana. Then, in my later life, I have been influenced by more funky bands such as Jamiroquai and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers- with their groovy and hypnotic bass lines.
Justin: For myself with the upbringing I had, I needed an escape from reality- either that or something that I can resonate with. Keeping that in mind; Red Hot Chili Peppers really helped me through some tough times. Other than that, my drumming influences came from bands such as Seether, Four Year Strong and Highly Suspect. The reason these bands have influenced my drumming is mainly down to the drive and punch that the drums deliver. I also really love a lot of their lyrics and I can resonate with a lot of what they have to say in regards to the story they tell; with their music.
Jimmy: In my early years, I actually had no interest in Rock whatsoever until my teen years- where I like many others from my generation was absorbed by the Nu-Metal revolution by bands like Linkin Park. I later discovered Classic-Rock and Blues through following my big brother’s covers band around the country as something to do- e.g. The Rolling Stones, AC/DC; Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin; ZZ Top, Jimmy Hendrix. Soon after I got heavily into ‘90s music such as Nirvana, Green Day etc. and developed the desire to be in a band. My playing style is heavily influenced by the Punk-Rock and Grunge minimalistic attitude. Feeling over theory will stay with me for the rest of my days.
A lot of groups submit to the lure of big cities and bright lights. Any plans for you guys to relocate or do you feel the Black Country is a lot more conducive to your type of music?
We all love the Black Country even though Andy is from Stoke-on-Trent and Justin is from South Africa. Add to this its central location: all the U.K.’s towns are within easy reach and we have no fear of the commute- having gigged as far away as Newcastle upon Tyne. Birmingham International is just a stone’s throw away…
Life on the road can be exhausting but must be a laugh too. What is a typical night/gig for Buzzard? Any jokers in the band who cannot help but play pranks, for instance?
To be honest, no gig is ever the same. With every gig, we are continuously learning what works and what really works. We all love to wind each other up and love nothing more than to hang out with the fans before and after the gigs- even encouraging them to join in with our banter.
Any gigs coming up you are looking forward to especially? Any, looking back, that have registered as especially epic?
Supporting WEAK13 on Thursday 4th of August and our album launch (date to be confirmed) - we believe Quincy Music (www.quincymusic.co.uk) will possibly be coming with a range of guitars and their Buzzard Signature Series 6-string bass, the Pittsburgh M.A.
Past highlights include Wolvesfest; supporting Diamond Head (thanks to Andy Blodwyn) at The Haygate; Blackpool Rebellion Festival Weekend. There’s too many to list, they are all good for one reason or another, usually due to the great people we meet; fans, bands and alike.
You spend a lot of time on the road. Is it quite a tough lifestyle or do you prefer it there? I can imagine the audiences must make up for the loneliness and fatigue.
While it can be stressful we love it: it’s what we write the music for; to get it out there and heard. It can be awkward to fit around our work life and relationships. As, in the words of one of our fans (Mark): “You do everything a normal person does and you run a band”- but the highlights more than makes up for it. As for the loneliness, if the vehicle we are traveling in has room, we will take fans with us. As stated previously: we love the fans. For us, Buzzard is not a hobby or a business: it’s our life; our children; our family.
Are there any bands (local or otherwise) you would tip to the readers?
That is a tough one as Buzzard is one of over a thousand great unsigned bands just in our local area. Obviously WEAK13, but we have countless others such as Tyrannosaurus Nebulas- stonking Hard-Rock from Stourbridge/Wales. Naked Sunday: a Glam-Rock band from Stafford (where Andy grew up). RKB are great fun to gig with. Gunners Law is another great three-piece, Left For Red are a great Groove-Metal band. Timberwaulf, Koncept; Pork, Electus; Thea, Fury; Mistrusted, F1-11, & Zero Wasters (who have all been great and fun). We really could go on forever… The home of Metal is a treasure chest full of great music ready to burst out; grab the corporate, manufactured, plastic dolls by the short and curlies!
WEAK13 are a band you support a lot. I have interviewed Nick J. Townsend. What is like hanging with those guys?
We know Nick the most due to his ties with Base Studios, Ryan’s Gig Guide and obviously his amazing work he did on our music video (and much more). As such, we now see him as a close personal friend who we admire and respect a lot. We have always enjoyed hanging around with WEAK13 and have found them to be good fun down-to-earth guys. It is brilliant to see a band like WEAK13’s genre breakthrough- we wish them every success for the future. Certainly, something to aspire to
Would you offer any advice to young musicians/bands coming through looking to make it big?
That’s a very good, but tough question. A lot. However, you will and must learn by experience. However, a few points and tips we would like to put out there are: be true to yourself: 90% of your fans will be in other bands so treat them and fans with the same respect. it doesn’t cost anything to be polite. Make time for people; be mindful that anyone you’re playing to in the room could possibly be or know someone who is a major player. Sometimes, less actually can be more: whether a thousand or ten people turn up to your gig; you perform to your best ability. Stay and watch other bands you never know what you could learn and be influenced by. Don’t be afraid to advertise offline and old-school. Don’t entrust the drummer to look after the tickets, L.O.L.
For being such a great sport you can select any song- not your own; I’ll put one on here- and I’ll play it here.
This is so hard to choose based on what we have already said above. However, after careful consideration, we respectfully nominate TLK by the band Tyrannosaurus Nebulas. Please check it out.
Thank you for taking the time to interview us/reading, we really appreciate it.
Jimmy, Andy & Justin