During Sleazy Slimey Sunday 2 in April, I finally got the chance to sit down and speak with Westminster, Maryland’s 86 Bullets, a fan favorite in these parts who have been tearing up the local area since their inception in late 2015. These M3 veterans know how to perform to the live crowd too as I witnessed first hand their power at SSS2. The band, lead singer Steve Graybeal, guitarist Chris Elliot, bassist Eric Dee, and drummer Jerry Oxendine just released a four song EP titled Agents of Absolution, and it flat out rocks.
Shockwave: How did this band start and how did the M3 gig in 2016 go?
Chris: We were all in different bands but never in the same band so we were just looking to do something and we sort of just came together because of our mutual connections with each other. I had played with Eric and Jerry, but Eric hadn’t played with Jerry, and Steve hadn’t played with any of these guys, so when I brought Steve in, it just clicked. You can give me all the credit getting this started though (laughing). We just sort of selected ourselves.
Steve: We really only got together a few months before we played M3 last year, We had no songs of our own. So we sat down and wrote some songs to have specifically for M3 and after that show, we knew we had something special. We only play one cover and we felt like we belonged there when we played, and I don’t want to sound cocky, but as individuals we are all very confident in our individual abilities and it just all clicked that day. We had a blast doing it and we hope to get asked again to play sometime in the future.
Where did the name of the band derive from?
Steve: It was Chris’ brainchild actually. He had a name in mind and explained the story behind the name about exploitation of circus animals particularly of an elephant named Tyke. Back in 1994, her owners would beat her and over a period of time, she basically had enough and escaped from the circus and went on a rampage and it took 86 bullets to bring her down finally, but we made a connection with that desire that the elephant had to keep on moving, no matter what, in this direction. We feel like we as a band are the voice of voices in a way, whether it be animal rights or to make a statement for a person who is unable to, and they’re people like us who care about a subject and we will speak our minds about it when we feel the need to.
Tell me about your live shows. Is there a favorite place you like to play?
Chris: We haven’t played a whole lot live because we have been in the studio. The offers have been there, but we have been focused on getting this EP out. We definitely are going to play out more now since it’s all done.
Jerry: We plan on recording more instead of playing so we aren’t really putting ourselves out there just yet because we want to get these EP’s finished and then see what happens, but once it happens, watch out because we won’t stop playing out.
Can you tell me a little about the EP? How the recording has been? Who produced it?
Eric: Yeah, Josh Clark over at Studio E in Westminster was the engineer on it as well as produced and mixed it, and it turned out awesome. We couldn’t be more happy with it right now and the feedback on it has been incredible. We actually have a second EP already recorded and it’s in the mixing stages right now and releasing that one a few months from now I would think, but we’ll see how it goes.
Chris: It was all songs we already had performed before mixed in with a couple new ones. People don’t buy albums though like they used to back in the day, so putting ourselves out on social media is pretty important to get people to see us and talk about us and get a good buzz around town. We are firm believers we need to have our music out to the public to hear and then go and play live to show the public that we are for real.
Steve: I like every song on this new EP. We put a lot into it.
Touring wise, do you have any plans to branch out of the Baltimore area and take 86 to the rest of the US?
Eric: We’re discussing those options now to see what we want to do tour wise after the second EP comes out because yes, we want to do these live shows a lot more around the US and see how far this will take us.
Steve: It’s up to us how far we want to take it. I know for me, It’s been a lifelong dream of mine. I’m not worried about money or anything like that. For me, it’s that connection you make with somebody, either with your lyrics or melodies or whatever.
86 Bullets will be opening for New York’s Station this Saturday in Columbia, Maryland at Sonoma’s and if you have not seen this band play yet, you need to make it down there. Very few bands are lucky enough to be asked to play M3, and 86 Bullets as well as Station are both veterans of that festival. It’s like having a small M3 reunion and you will NOT be disappointed in seeing either of these bands. So be there!!