Interview with rob birkbeck...
...from Buzzard Canyon, When The Deadbolt Breaks, Tallest, Sentinel Hill, Low Moments, Banth, Holding On To Nothing, Project 7:06.
What bands are you in now/have been in/when did you get involved with musics?
I am in an almost comical number of bands at the moment. I’ve been playing since ’92 but it’s really only been the 10 or so years that I’ve been active in the music scene. My first real band would probably have been Demigod around ’95. That was with Scott Daimler (of Groton Guitars fame) and a young up-a-coming guitarist that you MAY have heard of... Dwayne Eldredge. I started as the bassist but eventually ended up as the vocalist. We recorded a single but I don’t know if anyone has a copy of it anymore. I have the original 4-track master. Maybe one of these days I’ll remix it and release it. My next serious project would have been ‘95/’96. Sam Sugawara (of Low Moments shame) and I wrote and recorded an EP while we were in high school. That was me on drums and bass with the 2 of us sharing guitar and vocal duties. I think I have the original 4-track masters from those sessions. That’s some seriously awful stuff that I want to remix just to cringe at. Then I spent a decade and a half doing the family thing. During that time, my music outlet was basically Sam and I getting together to jam. We wrote a concept album in the early 2000’s. It was based on a dystopian graphic novel we read. The majority of it was recorded but I don’t think we ever finished it. We also wrote and recorded an albums worth of separate material. That stuff was me on drums and us sharing the rest of the roles. I moved back to the area around ‘10/’11 timeframe, I think, and that’s when I started getting serious about playing. My next adventure was Fear Cage. That reconnected me with Scott on drums and introduced me to Jake Perry (Train of Thought, Gasoline Therapy, Holding on to Nothing, Sinners Inc) on vocals. I played guitar in that band alongside Andy Edmonds. From there I kind of bounced around. I played fill-in gigs on drums/bass for Gasoline Therapy a few times.
I jammed with Dwayne on a couple of projects... Never Say Die with Dwayne on vocals, Bill Bates (Holding on to Nothing, Black North) on bass, Corey Powers on guitar, and me on drums and Programmed Destruction with Dwayne on vocals, George Alcoba (Straight Jacket Sunday) on guitar, and me on bass, and Scott on drums. After that I spent 2 years as the bassist for Amido Black. The next big thing would have been joining Holding on to Nothing, mid-2015, as the guitarist but ending up on drums. That was Charlie Platteborze (too many projects to list), his hipster brother Marc on bass, Bill Bates and Jake Perry on guitar. Late-2017, Jake Punzalan (Gasoline Therapy, Ditch Wizard) and I got together and recorded what ended up becoming the Banth EP. That was Jake on guitar, his brother Shaun (Gasoline Therapy, Tallest) on vocals, Charlie on bass, and me on drums. 2018 saw the atrocity known as Low Moments, which actually started out as an acoustic duo. The band version was with Sam and Young Laken on guitar, Charlie on bass/vocals, and me on drums. Not long after that, Charlie and I created Sentinel Hill with Aaron 708 (Buzzard Canyon, When the Deadbolt Breaks) on bass, and me on drums. Late-2019 Aaron and I created Vatican Fire with Charlie on bass, Amber Leigh (Buzzard Canyon) on vocals, and me on drums. 2020 I joined Buzzard Canyon as the bassist and When the Deadbolt Breaks as the drummer. I also joined Tallest last year as the bassist.
1995: Demigod, bass/vocals
2010: Fear Cage, guitar
2011-13: Amido Black, bass
2014: The 49th Gate, guitar
2015: Holding on to Nothing, guitar/drums 2017: Banth, drums
2018: Low Moments, drums / Sentinel Hill, drums
2019: Vatican Fire, drums
2020: Buzzard Canyon, bass / When the Deadbolt Breaks, drums / Tallest, bass
If you could make a supergroup with famous musicians and you, who would do what?
Dave Lombardo on drums, Spike Cassidy (DRI) on guitar, Mike Patton (Faith No More) on vocals, and me on bass. We’d play late 80’s era thrash metal.
Who is harder to work with, Aaron from When The Deadbolt Breaks or Aaron from Buzzard Canyon?
Aaron from When the Deadbolt Breaks is way harder to work with than Aaron from Buzzard Canyon.
Why are you sometimes called Rob Anonymous?
Rob Anonymous stems from when I joined Fear Cage but no one really knew me. They didn’t know where I lived, what I did for a living, things like that. So Scott Daimler started calling me Rob Anonymous and it just kind of stuck.
What equipment do you prefer?
Bass is typically my favorite to play but I tend to go through phases where I crave one instrument over the other. Bass is what I started on so it always feels like home to me. My gear collection is stupid. I own more equipment than some music stores, lol.
Drum preferences: Tama drums and hardware, Tama Speed Cobra pedals with a Trick driveshaft and Danmar wood beaters, Vater 5B Funk Blaster sticks, Paiste cymbals, Evans heads, Remo falam slam beater pads, roc n soc thrones
Guitar preferences: Ibanez RG series guitars, Mesa/Boogie rectifier series amps and cabinets, Eminence speakers, JJ tubes, TC Electronic pedals, Dunlop Jazz III picks, Seymour Duncan pickups, D’Addario NYXL 10-52 strings, Planet Waves cables, Live Wire speaker cables
Bass preferences: Ibanez Soundgear series basses, Fender Bassman 500 head, Mesa/Boogie 2x15 cabinet, EV speakers, Darkglass B3K overdrive, Swamp Lord fuzz, Live Wire speaker cables, Ernie Ball Power Slinky strings
You've now been in three bands (Gasoline Therapy, Banth, Tallest) with Shaun Punzalan who is known as the Filipino George Clooney. What is that like?
He’s great to work with. He does his homework and shows up ready to go. And, man, he’s got such a good voice. Plus with those devilishly good looks, he brings a little extra to the bands stage presence. Way better looking than the guy that normally sings in my bands.
What's the worst band you've been in and why is it Low Moments?
There is a rumor going around that Low Moments has music recorded but they’re too ashamed to actually release it. It’s probably for the best that they don’t release it. Like, ever!
Pineapple Pizza is incorrect.
This is a true statement although pineapple dipped in dark chocolate is best taste in the entire world.
What's the best show you've ever attended?
That’s a tough one. I’d say probably a tie between The Big 4 at Yankee Stadium, Ozzfest with Judas Priest opening for the original Black Sabbath, and the last Slayer tour. The pyro was so impressive.
What is your favorite venue to see a show and/or play?
My favorite venue is the whatever place I’m playing next...as long as they have food. I hate playing places that don’t have anything to eat. The best show I ever played was probably the last Sentinel Hill show before the plague hit. It was a great lineup and I feel like I played about as close to a perfect set as could be. I’ve played with some really amazing bands over the years but I felt like I was really in the zone that night. Opening for Crowbar/COC and Kilgore/LOA are definitely the 2 shows I’m most proud of being a part of.
Is being in bands with Charlie Sad Eyes good or bad for your self-image?
Ah, yes, the musical-train-on-fire that is Charlie Sad Eyes. He’s easily the most prolific songwriter I’ve ever worked with...whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know. It certainly keeps things interesting anyway. I think he’s probably good for my self-image because I know that I’m not the baldest guy in any of my bands.
You've done live sound many times. What is your advice for sound people doing metal and metal bands?
I don’t know that I qualify as having done a lot of live sound. I think I’ve done enough to know I don’t really enjoy it that much. My advice for the sound guys would be, try to make everyone sound as good as possible regardless of how you’re feeling. It could be someones first or last show ever, as a fan or a performer. They deserve to have it be as memorable as possible so stay awake, stay sober, and pay attention during the entire set. My advice to musicians would be to turn your damn amp down and let the sound guy do his job...unless he sucks. Then turn it up to 11.
I’m in a band with a guy that kinda resembles Sloth.
How have you spent the Covid era? Productively?
Since the plague hit, I’ve managed to stay quite busy. I recorded about 90% of the music for an album that was supposed to be released last year but I’ve been so busy with other things that it’s been stuck on the back burner. Maybe this year I can finish it. I learned the new Buzzard Canyon album, wrote bass tracks for it (having never played with the band) and recorded my parts, all over the span of 2 weeks. I’m super proud of how that came out. Hopefully that will be released in the next few months. We’re 9 songs deep into the new When the Deadbolt Breaks album. I’m actually working on song 10 this week. It’s going to be a really diverse album. I’ve also been busy with Tallest. We’re fleshing what’s sure to be a killer debut album.
What is your favorite color besides metal?
My favorite color is dark blue, sometimes purple. Paul Reed Smith has a guitar color called Whale Blue. That’s the most pleasing color to my eyes.
What is it like being the shortest in a band called Tallest?
I’m not only the shortest in Tallest but, it’s actually humorous how much of a height difference there is between Jay and I.
What local bands would you recommend?
I have to recommend all my bands, even Low Moments. Also, in no particular order: Crawl Below, Bone Church, Pinto Graham, Cortez, Bone Church, Casting Shadows, Cortez, Bone Church, Black North, Cortez, and Bone Church. This is the kind of question that ultimately ends up offending someone if you forget to mention their band. I love the local scene and think that we all need to do our part to support it. Buy the merch, download the music, go to the shows, share the posts....there is no scene without the fans and every band, except Low Moments, has their own fans. The more those bands support each other, the more their fans will learn about other bands.
You were in the Air Force. What was your favorite plane to fly and how many MIGS did you shoot down?
My favorite plane to fly was the F-22 Raptor. I shot down more MIGS than anyone else in my squadron. Also, I get air sick really easy. Also also, I’ve never flown a plane in my life. Also also also, I really was in the Air Force though.
What is in the future for your bands?
I hope that live shows come back at some point this year. I’d like to play out with at least some my bands before they breakup. Tallest is something I think people will really enjoy. Buzzard Canyon & Deadbolt people always like to see. Vatican Fire was a lot of fun to do. The rest is up in the air for the most part. As far as future releases go, all of my projects are in various states of writing/recording. What actually gets released will be a mystery until it happens. In an ideal world the release schedule would look something like:
When the Deadbolt Breaks full length spring 2021,
Buzzard Canyon full length spring/summer 2021,
Tallest full length, summer 2021
Sentinel Hill full length, summer 2021,
Low Moments full length, summer/fall 2021,
Vatican Fire EP fall 2021,
Toototabon (old school death metal) EP fall 2021,
The 49th Gate EP winter 2021
None of this is set in stone though so don’t hold me to it....
If you were to be stranded on a desert island with only one of your bands, which would it be and why?
Stranded on a desert island? Hmm, probably a solo project so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.
Make some closing comments.
Thanks for the interview. I hope the 3 people that read it find it somewhat interesting. Maybe one day people will know me as something other than “I think that guy plays drums in some of Charlies bands”.
with weird music types.