Music: By-Products of Their Environment

Even when no one is listening, local noisemakers BPA do their own thing

Shawn Abnoxious


By-Products of Their Environment Even when no one is listening, local noisemakers BPA do their own thing This could be a story about a kid trying to get out of eating his grandma´s homemade vegetable soup. This kid is a real go-nowhere (not a loser!) and on the way to grandma´s house the kid´s mom and dad would enable him and his peculiar eating habits by providing a Burger King Meal Deal in place of soup.

This could be a story about that kid and how he would also look at the temperature and time readouts on the bank´s digital sign just down the street from Burger King every time he rode past the location.

This could be a story about how just blocks away from this bank, blocks away from the Burger King, a sound was taking shape that would become the kid´s soundtrack for the time known as ¨back then,¨ as it has become his soundtrack for the time known as the ¨here/now.¨

He would one day refer to this group and this/their sound as some of the best.

This could be a story about far-fetched ideas and theories. A stretch of a stretch, truly imagination at its best. Some would say that it might sound as if the theory is really a scientific law (it sounds believable enough). It´s just the rantings of a good old fashioned go-nowhere that develops the Theory of Close Proximity Fresh Water Poisoning as an explanation for why, who, how and all the other questions that pop up when something good happens and seems to live on despite the public´s eye. Yeah, let´s blame all that creativity on the fresh water!

Let´s blame pre-historic underground rivers! Yeah!

This is my attempt at doing By-Products of America — or, as they are more commonly known, BPA — justice. I want you to believe in this band the way I do. BPA isn´t just a band; it´s the band to me, that aforementioned kid back there, that go-nowhere. That piece of fuck is me.

The first time I heard By-Products of America, after picking up a used copy of their Moving and Storage LP, it was like something clicked inside my head. If I had ever lost and been reunited with relatives, it would have felt like when the needle hit that record.

Amongst a backdrop of screeching brakes from a neighboring train yard. Blocks away from Cincinnati´s ¨olde tyme¨ slaughterhouse district. Inside a space resembling Sanford and Son´s store. As multi-layered as their sound, it is a space populated with guitars, amps and other unconventional/experimental instruments strewn in every direction.

It´s in this space, which also doubles as Schwallie´s art studio, that the assembled members of BPA — Tim Benz, Mike Stewart, Todd Witt, Max Cole (esq.), Nolan Benz and the MIA Tim Schwallie — humbly talk about Vietnam, counter intelligence programs, 26 pictures of self-tapped beer in one night and more. Sounds and times that they shared together return easily to a band that has been making a noise and racket rivaling that of the distant train yard for the better part of 25 years.

Talk moves to the band´s famed hiatus from playing shows, triggered after a bad night and small riot on Short Vine that set everything to potentially self-destruct. But it didn´t. The band spent the next several years — while the scene that caused that bad night would become a fading memory — setting it right.

Entrepreneur Darren Blase revitalized the band in a way by releasing BPA´s Maybe Use My Knife CD on Shake It Records. The disc would become a catalyst to continue the band´s journey through the Cincinnati music scene. Blase is the single most important individual to which the band credits its continued adventure.

But today´s music scene is a different one. Gone are the times of old, where large networks formed from pure enthusiasm for the sound. In its place is an even larger quagmire of complete bullshit that must be conquered and waded through in order to find the good stuff. BPA knows this, is versed in this, understand this current situation and has its fingers on the pulse of a scene that it seems would rather sit in a fucking courtyard and look good than find out what band is making the background noise that bothers all the dramatic conversations. In this place of indifference, BPA finds its place and makes a difference.

Live appearances from this iconic band might be sporadic, but the members are always there within earshot of those screeching train yards. They tell of seven brand new songs from a CD that they say they need more material for and are nowhere close to finding a label or anything of the sort that´s needed.

The BPA Empire gathers to repel invasions and plans its campaigns one at a time. In a line, one after another. It is taking steps, and that has to be enough for me, you and the guy standing behind you with a knife.

Wassup BPA´s ( america) Maybe Use My Knife is available now at Shake It Records in Northside.

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