Outsider Interview: Dr. Beardface & The Spaceman

Interview by Kristina Sarhadi

It’s only been a few months since Philly’s Dr. Beardface and the Spaceman released their first full-length Here for the Scraps, but I’ve played these ten songs on repeat so often that I’m sure my neighbors know all the words. Besides winning the prize for funniest/most frequently mispronounced band name, the punk and roll five-piece have carved an authentically exciting space for themselves in an increasingly repetitive music scene. Kerrie, Matty, Vinnie, Shawnie, and Adam are seriously skilled musicians and downright awesome humans, and they’ve loaded Here for the Scraps with attitude, contagious choruses and a heavy dose of fucked up humor. As anyone on my block will tell you, this is easily my favorite album of 2017.  Recently, Kerrie and the guys were kind enough to answer my burning questions about touring, talent, gender and… marriage?

I think it’s safe to say 2017 has been your biggest year yet. Congratulations on your crazy success so far—SXSW, your first full-length, two awesome videos, a ton of touring including a bunch of festival spots, and a rapidly growing fan base. Can you tell us a bit about how it all came together?   KERRIE: Thank you! It’s been a wild ride, and we’re loving every minute of it. We feel lucky in a lot of ways, because we’ve all been involved with other bands prior to DBATS, and we all know about the work, the sheer effort and commitment it takes to even gain a centimeter of upward progress as a band. None of our other projects gained traction as quickly as this one did… and while we chalk part of that up to luck, another part of it is that we all gained experience and connections in our other projects and brought them all to this band. Then the combination of characters we have is another component. Maybe lucky, maybe fateful, but we’ll take it either way.

Do you have any advice for kids who are maybe just starting out as a band and looking for positive direction?  KERRIE: I’d pretty much just tell them that the idea of being “discovered” is utter bullshit, at least in my opinion. I mean, sure, there is about a one in a 100 billion chance that that could happen, and of course that’s what everyone reads about, so they then assume that because they have talent, they can just lay back and wait around to be “discovered”. Unless you happen to be the child of a famous musician or have some other incredibly fortunate connection to a person who can present your talent to someone who can do something amazing with it… you need to expect to work. Music should be fun, it should be your passion, but the business end of it is work. It’s a second job. Like the career you choose to major in in college – you love it, so it’s not exactly grueling labor, but there is work involved. Creating, perfecting, recording and performing music is only a piece of it… there’s also promotion, booking, flyering, designing & running websites and band pages on sites like ReverbNation and SoundCloud, social media presence, creating band photos and videos, submitting your music to radio stations and websites and magazines, maybe 20 submissions a day per band member with the hopes that just one a week bites, touring, raising money to tour, designing and selling merch (after raising money for THAT, too)…

Do you have day jobs? If so, how do you deal with the “call of the road?” If not, how do you pay for stuff??  KERRIE: We’ve all got day jobs and went to/are going to school to study our other passions, and those things, thankfully, happen to help us as a band. Shawn, for example, is a born salesman. He’s not a bullshitter, either – which is what makes him effective. He genuinely likes people and knows how to put them instantly at ease. He’s extremely, immediately likeable – a “people person” – so naturally he’s been our manager. He books shows, reaches out to new contacts and venues, negotiates prices and contracts. For free. Then we have Matt, who studied video and graphic design in school and designs a lot of our flyers and merch not only for free, but AWESOMELY well. He conceptualized, shot, edited, & produced our first video for our song “I Need It” on a $0 budget. Vince, he went to school for audio engineering, and is actually recording, mixing, and mastering our upcoming album in our home studio. All of these things, we’d have to find and pay other people to do. It’s incredible. As far as the road, being in Philly we’re within a couple hours of NY, NJ, DE, DC, MD… so we can take off work on a Friday and do a mini-tour road trip to one of those places, play 3 shows and be back to work Monday. We also all get time off, and we just plan it out, coordinate it with one another so that we can do a longer tour or two every year. Besides all the spots I just mentioned, we’ve played L.A., Anaheim & Ventura in CA, Austin & Bryan in TX for SXSW, Portland in OR, VA, CT… it’s been pretty fucking awesome.

I was blown away by your live show at Snapper Magee’s a few weeks ago. Besides crazy good musicianship, you each bring a totally different vibe to the stage that’s hard to turn away from. Can you describe your secret sauce? What sets you apart from other bands in the scene right now?  KERRIE: …and we were stoked to meet you! Hmm, secret sauce, eh? Well, I mentioned how lucky I feel to have all of our side talents compiled into one band, but there’s something else, as well. Like I said,  we’ve all been involved in a number of different projects over the years… some of them more or less successful than others. I feel like we all picked up a few pointers on what does and doesn’t work in a band, as well as the experience and contacts I touched on… but none of that would matter if our fundamental attitudes weren’t what they are. From my perspective, there isn’t one (or more, god forbid) “diva” member. Some of us have stronger personalities, and some of us have more laid back personalities. Luckily, we balance each other out. Not just personality wise, but in the sense of musicianship, as well. My favorite thing is the fact that we can sometimes write songs on the spot. I’ve never experienced that, on that level, in any other band I’ve watched practice or been part of. I mean, in the middle of practice Adam and Shawn can start a beat and bass line, Matt can start a chord progression on the spot, then Vinnie drops in with a lead, and I start singing lyrics and a melody off the top of my head… and it works. Then we’re so in tune with each other that we follow one another into a chorus, a bridge, and another verse… and within 5 minutes, a new song is born. It’s the most incredible feeling in the world, to be a part of something that symbiotic.

KRISTINA: You’re playing your dream lineup in your favorite city. Who’s there and where are you? Bonus: what’s for dinner?  MATT: For me, probably playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal. It just seems like a badass festival. Plus, I love that city. KERRIE: Mine would be something like Riot Fest. Shawn and I went last year in Denver, it was absolutely incredible. Since we’re talking dream lineup, it doesn’t get much dreamier than that – playing for three days in Denver and another three in Chicago with a ton of bands I love and am influenced by. The 2016 lineup had the Misfits, Social D, Deftones, the Specials, Bad Religion, the Vandals… and like 50 more. Playing something like that would definitely be… just unimaginably cool. And I guess we could get one of those huge long tables that rich people in movies have, fill it with bowls of day old bread from the bargain bin at ACME along with LITERALLY EVERY TYPE OF PIZZA IMAGINABLE and sit all the bands down to eat dinner together. Then afterwards we’d have a food fight with the shitty bread.

What’s the most embarrassing show you’ve ever played?  KERRIE: Ah, man… when we were first starting out as a band, we didn’t have a drummer yet and played everything acoustic. Then Vince and our first drummer Ron DiSilvestro joined, and we started writing and performing songs electric. Well, somehow we ended up double-booked one night, and Vince and Ron couldn’t make it to the earlier show of the night at 3rd & Girard in Philly. It was our buddy Frank’s show, he’d booked us and we didn’t want to bail on him. “No problem,” we figured, “we’ll just play it as an acoustic 3 piece and meet up with Vinnie and Ron afterwards for our midnight set at the Grape Room.” Man, what a mistake. It was a total train wreck, me singing over an acoustic bass and guitar… playing these new songs we were now used to playing electric, that we’d written electric and only ever played electric… it was terrible. Our mistake was in thinking we could sound good without practicing them acoustic, like somehow we’d just remember how we used to play acoustic and the new songs would automatically translate well. So there it is, lesson learned. Practice, practice, practice – before EVERY show. And never try something for the first time live on stage! We definitely live by those rules now.

Congratulations on recently being added to the Altercation Records family! Can you talk a bit about how that happened and what it’s been like so far?  KERRIE: Thanks! We made a lot of great contacts as musicians both in other bands and in Dr. Beardface. One of those is Ron, the manager of Connie’s Ric Rac, which is basically our home base in South Philly. At our request, he immediately put us in touch with Travis and the folks from Altercation Records when we expressed interest in playing the leg of Altercation’s Riot Fest that was taking place at Connie’s. They booked us, and Travis from Altercation was in attendance at the show, so we got to meet him and some of the bands on the label that were also playing. They liked us, we LOVED them… and all of the bands on their roster… and when Altercation offered us a spot among them we jumped at the chance. We haven’t been sorry for a second, Altercation is like a second family to us. All the bands are so supportive of one another, and Travis and J.T. are just the absolute best. I don’t know how they find the time to do everything they do, but they really put a ton of effort and time into helping us and getting the best out of each of us. They treat us each like we’re the only band on their roster. I really can’t say enough good things about Altercation.

Altercation gets a lot of attention for grabbing stand-out punk acts and putting on really special tours and fests. I think it’s even more awesome that maybe 50-60% of artists on the label are female or female-fronted. Did that have anything to do with your decision to sign on, or has it made any difference in the type of experience you’ve had so far?  KERRIE: Actually, I never picked up on that until just now. Now that I think of it though, yeah, I guess a good amount of us are female-fronted. But no, that didn’t affect our decision to sign, and I don’t feel like it’s changed our experience. Altercation doesn’t treat Dr. Beardface any differently than the bands who are fronted by guys, and the fact that the bands on their label are pretty much 50/50 gender-wise really just goes to show that they choose to work with bands based on their music and performances rather than the gender of their front person. And I think that’s pretty awesome, too.

Which of your band friends should we look out for?  VINCE: Molly Rhythm, In the Presence of Wolves, Mercury Radio Theater, Hanz Gruber and the Diehards has been on my turntable since I bought it. KERRIE: Also for punk/pop the Split Seconds (DC) & Good Look Sigourney (NJ), for punk check out The Obvious (NJ), The Sharp Lads (NY), Two Fisted Law (CT), the Gloryholes (TN) are amazing… or a Philly band we played with last weekend called Bern and the Bastards, I’m actually listening to the right now, love them. Then for Sci-Fi pop with an 80’s feel you need to hear the Fantastic Plastics (NY)… The Grizzly Band (TX) for country/punk… and for rock/funk/punk Kyle Trocolla (CT), & I’d also say check out Pasadena from MD even though they’re unfortunately about to play their last show. 

Who the fuck is Mott the Hoople?  VINCE: Mott the Hoople is one of the greatest 70’s glam rock bands to ever exist.  You’d probably recognize their hit “All the Young Dudes”, which Bowie wrote, heck Suffragette City was almost one of theirs.  Their cover of Sweet Jane was the first one I knew, and dare I say, is better than Lou Reed’s.

So you’ll be pretty busy for the rest of this year. What can we look forward to next year and what are some of your long-term goals for Dr. B?  KERRIE: We’re working on writing and recording a new album right now, practicing, and just playing shows, shows, shows! Touring and mini-touring as much as possible. We just released the music video for “Shrink Rap”, which you can check out on Blank TV on YouTube, and we’re shooting and editing more music videos to be released soon as well.

Will Matty B marry me?  KERRIE: I think this might be Matt’s first band-related marriage proposal! Such a heart throb, that one… well, Matty? MATT: YES! If you want to move to Philly, I’m down! I just hope I’m not making anyone jealous…

Anything else you’d like us to know?  KERRIE: Yeah, you should read Outsider Mag, like, EVERY DAY. Also, like Dr. Beardface & the Spaceman on Facebook or check us out atwww.drbeardface.com to stay up to date on our shows and whatnot. You can pretty much find us on any social media or music related site. Also probably some crime watch sites, but if so… WE WERE NEVER HERE.