Once the tattoo guns at Aces Tattoo on South Virginia Street are shut off for the night, the electricity quickly moves from the pigment-slamming coiled needles in the open-space of the well-lit studio down the wooden stairs and into the basement, where Sierra Pacific’s finest is redirected into the pickups, amps and microphones that power Belle Bloodcreek. There is an obvious metaphor here, but it quickly becomes too loud and seething with palpable fury to sort out.
The five-piece, featuring lead and slide guitarist Dug Graves, rhythm guitarist Woodrow Swillson, bassist Scott Beowulf, lead singer Brokeass Benny and drummer and one-man security zone Israel Palestine, set up in a tight circle and jump into their practice session. The cramped space is quickly overwhelmed with noise: The driving rhythm and buzz-saws-shredding-caskets sound of the guitars nearly swallow up the oxygen for Brokeass Benny’s vocals. Benny adjusts and screams louder.
“They [the rest of the band members] originally wanted a girl singer,” says Benny. “But, after a few months, they decided that it just wasn’t working out. I was about to move … ’til these dudes asked me to sing because they knew that I’d been singing in punk bands for years in Reno.”
While Belle Bloodcreek sounds a little like the name of a World War II bomber with a big bright red target drawn on its belly, the band describes its music and themselves as “Hard-drinking, dope-smoking weirdoes making rock music in the Sierra desert.”
“As far as the name goes,” says Brokeass Benny, “we toyed around with a few different names, and we wanted the name Belle in there somewhere.”
Bloodcreek? No comment.
After the first song, Benny looks over a set list and makes a suggestion. It’s agreed without any discussion. Guitarist Dug Graves turns down the distortion and ups the reverb. It’s a slower song, almost with a jazz backbeat, like something they might play at the funeral of a dirty clown.
“We’ve covered The Cramps, The Temptations … we’ll play anybody,” says Brokeass.
The band members take time before their next song to upload more chemicals.
Despite their happy-go-fuck-yourself veneers, these are five serious musicians. They play with a downward gaze, but they’re not staring at their Converses, they’re concentrating on the music.
Benny says they’ve recently been hard at work on a CD, which they plan—as does any band these days—to put out themselves.
On “Sun Valley Prom Queen,” Benny sings about a girl who used to be pretty until she lost a few too many teeth to the meth fairy: “Barely alive is how she lives her life/She would have slit her wrists/but she pawned her good knives.”
Belle Bloodcreek makes music with an unspoken sophistication and sense of dedication. And then, of course, there’s the blood.