There’s an old cliché in music stories. A spirited unknown band with a penchant for big riffs and a good time are playing to a cramped venue full of eager fans, when a cigar-smoking A&R from a trademarked iconic label walks in. He hears their kinetic sound and is suddenly ecstatic that his car’s spark plugs disintegrated outside the music club, because he just found a new act to represent. Most modern musicians will quickly say that’s a work of fiction used to tuck in young songwriters before bed, but it’s also (more or less) the story of local rock band Bizness Suit.
The only difference is their chance encounter didn’t come from automotive failure. It was all thanks to drummer Jeremy Hunton’s aunt. “She had this contact she kept all the way from college, and he ended up being a producer out in L.A.,” says Hunton when recounting how they were set up with Martin Guigui. “So, we sent him the stuff that we had recorded and he really liked it.”
Guigui happened to not only be a producer on the West Coast, but also a Grammy Award-nominated engineer who had worked with Smokey Robinson, Daryl Hall, and Bo Diddley. Yes, that Smokey Robinson, that Daryl Hall, and that Bo Diddley.
Guigui was so impressed with Bizness Suit’s demo that he wanted to help them with their first LP. “I think [Martin] understood what we were kind of going for, and I think he had a lot to do with the final mix and what stood out at which part,” says vocalist/ guitarist Sean Barry. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the band spent a week in L.A. recording their first album, Grey Sky Blues.
On a rock music spectrum, this collection of tunes lands somewhere between the dance-punk realm of bands like Franz Ferdinand, and the garage-dwelling blues-rock world that groups like the Black Keys occupy. With relative consistency, the album fluctuates between the two flavors, but Grey Sky Blues really shines when Bizness Suit synthesizes the grooves and the blues. Tracks like their self-titled song “Bizness Suit” feature a layered post-punk revivalist landscape as the background for Barry’s fuzzy Chicago blues-guitar pluckings.
Hunton’s drumming deserves a handful of high-fives for the contagious rhythm epidemic he spreads on a few tracks. His snare-hi-hat interchange on “Abused Blues” and the four-on-the-floor pulse he provides on “The Other End” give Barry and bassist/ lyricist Drew Tapp the perfect space to trade riffs.
The band also has a brief foray into cowpunk on “Outta Yer Minds.” Its main push comes from the dark, moody bassline Tapp lays down before Barry and Hunton throw the song into dusty Western frontiers. The tune is also noteworthy because of its contribution from Pink Floyd’s Scott Page, who adds an integral stuttering saxophone to the funkier parts of the composition.
Guigui’s contact list not only landed Page, but a certain bearded Texas bluesman by the name of Billy Gibbons. Yes, that Billy Gibbons. The ZZ Top guitarist plays on the album’s climactic song “Rock ‘N’ Rolla.”
“[Martin] knows everyone. He was just like ‘name a guitarist and I’ll try and get him,'” says Barry. The band half-jokingly threw out a few names, like Robby Krieger from the Doors and Slash of Guns N’ Roses. Eventually, the wheel of surprise featured artists landed on Gibbons, who added his talents to the swelling blues tune.
While Grey Sky Blues was recorded in May 2015, Bizness Suit did not sign with their label, Pacific Records, until September of the next year.
As for the future, the group doesn’t seem content with the surprise success they’ve had so far. “We have a good sound right now, but we’re still fine tuning it,” says Hunton. “Maybe we never settle. We’ve got more good work to do.”
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