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Scot Bihlman Talks New Album, Featuring Guest Star dUg Pinnick and More



Scot Bihlman Talks New Album, Featuring Guest Star Dug Pinnick and More

Get to Know Scot Bihlman…

Meet Emmy award-winning musician and songwriter, Scot Bihlman, an industry vet whose mile-long resume includes stints with John Fogerty, Trey Anastasio (phish), Ted Nugent, BB King, Ray Charles, Dido, Hank Williams Jr., Al Cooper, Buddy Guy, Kenny Olsen (Kid Rock), and Jack Tempchin (Eagles), to name a few. Bihlman will soon be releasing his new solo record; a powerful culmination of his expansive musical experiences that will feature such guest stars as bassist, dUg Pinnick (King’s X), who also played with Bihlman in his other project, Grinder Blues, and Ron Meyer of Utah-based Black Sheep Brothers. Read on to learn more about this world-class musician, and what it was like sharing the stage with some of rock music’s biggest stars.

Alexx Calise: Your new album was recorded in Indiana, Utah and Los Angeles. What was the reasoning for recording in all of those different locales? 

Scot Bihlman: Geographically, it has been a bit of a challenge. However, with modern technology and the right guys at the helm, we are achieving the prime directive.  Miles Fulwider (Indiana) and Andrew Glasmacher (Utah) handle all the recording, mixing, and filming as the project develops. As I am in Los Angeles, I’m fortunate to have access to unique opportunities.

It gives us all a chance to access different options like different players and sounds which in turn brings a unique dynamic to the project. 

How different is your solo project musically from Bihlman Brothers and Grinder Blues?

Musically speaking, my solo project is a lot different in regard to the traditional recording process. I am making a conscious effort to avoid overtones of past projects. Which is tricky! Doing lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and drums collectively bring different flavors and dynamics to these songs. 

Also, working with like-minded people has definitely afforded me the opportunity to get musically experimental. 

Over the years I have collaborated with many producers and musicians which in turn has a tendency to detour you from your original vision. However, with this project, I’ve had carte blanche to go down avenues with alternate tunings, effects, and structures that would not have been possible in past projects. For this, I am very grateful! 

You played with your sibling, Jeff in the Emmy award-winning Bihlman Brothers and Grinder Blues. Can we expect to hear his playing on your new solo record as well?

No, my brother will not be making an appearance on this release. Thank you for asking!

dUg Pinnick of King’s X, who also played in Grinder Blues with you will be making an appearance on the new record as well. Did you kind of give him the reigns when it came to laying down his bass parts, or did you have a specific direction in mind when it came to the track?

Oh yeah! dUg is the groove master and needs no direction from me. You kinda just give him the track and go have a cocktail. The end. 

How did you two initially become acquainted?

Actually, my loooong time buddy and musicians Institute Colleague, Ray Luzier called me as he was having a barbecue in LA. I showed up, and it was a fantastic display of awesome people. dUg and I started talking about a blues project, and something he was wanting to add to his massive musical lineage. Me? I just wanted to play with dUg Pinnick! So, with dUg’s deep understanding of soul and the history I had under my belt in the blues, things started coming together to birth Grinder Blues!

Will you be distributing this release independently, or will this album also be under the Sony/Megaforce umbrella?

I am talking with Megaforce now and enjoy our relationship. There is a plan in place technically for singles. Honestly, I’m not sure locking in a whole album with one label is a business plan for the future. It also effects film/TV music placements where I have had success, and Music supervisors are usually not too hip on being signed. However, if Megaforce and I work some tracks together and it’s beneficial for us both, then let’s roll!

You’ve had the opportunity to play or record with the likes of John Fogerty, Hank Williams Jr., and a number of iconic artists. Did any of them ever offer any words of wisdom that may have forced a change in perspective for you as a musician, or even influenced your career trajectory?

I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of my heroes, and it’s been an incredible journey. Obviously, growing up listening to Creedence Clearwater revival and getting to work with John Fogerty was a surreal experience.

That session really taught me a lot. Being on an album with Trey Anastasio and Al Cooper was cool, and the jam on Son Seals song “funky Bitch” totally captured the essence of the track. Actually, not to go down a rabbit hole of different experiences, but I would have to say by far BB KING had the biggest impact on me both musically and spiritually. What a beautiful human on all levels. If you go to  there is a live recording of Mr.King calling us out on stage. Bless you, kind sir!

When can we expect your new solo album?

Technically, we are just brushing up on a few things and mixing 10 tracks. We already have two videos done for the tracks “Tooth and Nail” and “Lay Your Burden Down.” I am hoping for a summer/fall release 2020.

We’ve all obviously taken some serious hits as musicians due to the pandemic, especially because we can’t play live on a traditional stage for the foreseeable future. What have you been doing creatively to keep yourself sane during this time?  

Always playing guitar along with riding my motorcycle. I’m a big motorcycle enthusiast! I have a 2001 Harley Davidson Dyna wide glide that has been totally tricked out over the years. It’s my church, therapy and muse all in one. I get most my creative ideas musically while riding – guitar Riffs, lyrics, structures, sounds, artwork etc… I would say it’s my biggest writing tool and definitely keeps me sane. It also works really well with social distancing, and right now the road is wide open! 

Do you think the music industry will come back the same way after the pandemic?

That’s a great question, and I would have to say not for a long time. The music business has been evolving and reinventing itself every year, and most musicians are just trying to keep up. Now with this worldwide pandemic, it makes it even harder for us to make a living, and thespians of all walks of life are hurting. I would say keep your chops up and hope for the best. Stay healthy and stay strong. 

Have you noticed any cool new music-related innovations online while in lockdown?

Musically, it seems there are always new, mind blowing innovations happening regardless of a pandemic. I am sure the nerds are getting ready to blow our minds even further with all this frustration and time on their hands. I love nerds, man so bring it on please!

I see you’re also an actor. What types of roles do you generally like to play? What might we have seen you in?  

Indeed! I do dabble with the craft, and it’s nothing to take lightly like anything else you strive to master. Touring and being out of town over the years makes it hard to be readily available. In short, I do what I can when I can and have a patient agent. I’ve done two national commercials (The NFL network, and Burger King) along with a lot of print add work for Ducati, Volkswagen, Harley Davidson etc…  I am always studying the craft, and It’s a fun journey!

Do you plan to tour the new record as soon as things go back to “normal,” so to speak? If so, will you just be performing solo, or will you be bringing some other musicians along for the ride?

I am planning on touring, and I will be putting together a touring band. Solo gigs are great, and I have always loved that kind of intimate setting. I am sure you’ll be seeing me in many different forms throughout this process, so keep your ear to the road!

To find out more about Scot, or to see some of the upcoming “sneak peeks” be sure to follow Scot Bihlman on Instagram @scotbihlman. You can also visit!

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Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Dallas, Texas and lived in the Dallas area most of my life with the exception of 1 year in Colorado. I moved to the Austin area at age 18. 

What makes the bass so special to you particularly, and how did you gravitate to it?

I honestly started playing bass because we needed a bass player and I was the one with access to a bass amp and bass. I played rhythm guitar and sang up until I met Ronnie, who I would later start “Audic Empire” with. He also played rhythm guitar and sang and we didn’t know any bass players, so we had to figure something out. I still write most of my songs on guitar, but I’ve grown to love playing the bass. 

How did you learn to play, James?

I took guitar lessons growing up and spent a lot of time just learning tabs or playing by ear and kicked around as a frontman in a handful of bands playing at the local coffee shops or rec centers. Once I transitioned to bass, I really just tried to apply what I knew about guitar and stumbled through it till it sounded right. I’m still learning every time I pick it up, honestly. 

You are also a songwriter, recording engineer, and a fantastic singer, did you get formal training for this? 

Thank you, that means a lot!  I had a couple of voice lessons when I was in my early teens, but didn’t really like the instructor. I did however take a few lessons recently through ACC that I enjoyed and think really helped my technique (Shout out to Adam Roberts!) I was not a naturally gifted singer, which is a nice way of saying I was pretty awful, but I just kept at it. 

As far as recording and producing, I just watched a lot of YouTube videos and asked people who know more than me when I had a question. Whenever I feel like I’m not progressing, I just pull up tracks from a couple of years ago, cringe, and feel better about where I’m at but I’ve got a long way to go. Fortunately, we’ve got some amazing producers I can pass everything over to once I get the songs as close to finalized as I can. 

Describe your playing style(s), tone, strengths and/or areas that can be improved on the bass.

I honestly don’t know what my style would be considered. We’ve got so many styles that we play and fuse together that I just try to do what works song by song.  I don’t have too many tricks in the bag and just keep it simple and focus on what’s going to sound good in the overall mix. I think my strength lies in thinking about the song as a whole and what each instrument is doing, so I can compliment everything else that’s going on. What could be improved is absolutely everything, but that’s the great thing about music (and kind of anything really). 

Who were your influencers in terms of other musicians earlier on or now that have made a difference and inspired you?

My dad exposed me to a lot of music early. I was playing a toy guitar while watching a VHS of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live at SXSW on repeat at 4 years old saying I wanted to “do that” when I grew up. I was the only kid in daycare that had his own CDs that weren’t kid’s songs. I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and The Doors when I could barely talk. I would make up songs and sing them into my Panasonic slimline tape recorder and take it to my preschool to show my friends. As I got older went through a bunch of music phases. Metal, grunge, rock, punk, hip hop, reggae, ska, etc. Whatever I heard that I connected to I’d dive in and learn as much as I could about it. I was always in bands and I think I kept picking up different styles along the way and kept combining my different elements and I think that’s evident in Audic’s diverse sound. 

Tell me about Audic Empire and your new release Take Over! Can you share some of the highlights you and the band are most proud of?

Takeover was an interesting one. I basically built that song on keyboard and drum loops and wrote and tracked all my vocals in one long session in my bedroom studio kind of in a stream-of-consciousness type of approach. I kind of thought nothing would come of it and I’d toss it out, but we slowly went back and tracked over everything with instruments and made it our own sound. I got it as far as I could with production and handed it off to Chad Wrong to work his magic and really bring it to life. Once I got Snow Owl Media involved and we started brainstorming about a music video, it quickly turned into a considerably larger production than anything we’ve done before and it was such a cool experience. I’m really excited about the final product, especially considering I initially thought it was a throwaway track.

Describe the music style of Audic Empire for us. 

It’s all over the place… we advertise it as “blues, rock, reggae.” Blues because of our lead guitarist, Travis Brown’s playing style, rock because I think at the heart we’re a rock band, and reggae because we flavor everything with a little (or a lot) of reggae or ska. 

How did you find Bergantino Audio Systems?

Well, my Ampeg SVT7 caught fire at a show… We were playing Stubbs in Austin and everyone kept saying they smelled something burning, and I looked back in time to see my head, perched on top of its 8×10 cab, begin billowing smoke. We had a tour coming up, so I started researching and pricing everything to try and find a new amp. I was also fronting a metal band at the time, and my bass player’s dad was a big-time country bass player and said he had this really high-end bass amp just sitting in a closet he’d sell me. I was apprehensive since I really didn’t know much about it and “just a little 4×10” probably wasn’t going to cut it compared to my previous setup. He said I could come over and give it a test drive, but he said he knew I was going to buy it. He was right. I immediately fell in love. I couldn’t believe the power it put out compared to this heavy head and cumbersome cab I had been breaking my back hauling all over the country and up countless staircases.  

Tell us about your experience with the forte D amp and the AE 410 Speaker cabinet. 

It’s been a game-changer in every sense. It’s lightweight and compact. Amazing tone. And LOUD. It’s just a fantastic amp. Not to mention the customer service being top-notch! You’ll be hard-pressed to find another product that, if you have an issue, you can get in touch with the owner, himself. How cool is that? 

Tell us about some of your favorite basses.

I was always broke and usually working part-time delivering pizzas, so I just played what I could get my hands on. I went through a few pawn shop basses, swapped in new pickups, and fought with the action on them constantly. I played them through an Ampeg be115 combo amp. All the electronics in it had fried at some point, so I gutted it out and turned it into a cab that I powered with a rusted-up little head I bought off someone for a hundred bucks. My gear was often DIY’d and held together by electrical tape and usually had a few coats of spray paint to attempt to hide the wear and tear. I never really fell in love with any piece of gear I had till I had a supporter of our band give me an Ibanez Premium Series SDGR. I absolutely love that bass and still travel with it. I’ve since gotten another Ibanez Premium Series, but went with the 5-string BTB.  It’s a fantastic-sounding bass, my only complaint is it’s pretty heavy. 

Love your new video Take Over! Let us know what you’re currently working on (studio, tour, side projects, etc.)

Thank you!! We’ve got a LOT of stuff we’re working on right now actually. Having 2 writers in the band means we never have a shortage of material. It’s more about getting everything tracked and ready for release and all that goes into that. We just got through filming videos for 2 new unreleased tracks with Snow Owl Media, who did the videos for both Love Hate and Pain and Takeover. Both of these songs have surprise features which I’m really excited about since these will be the first singles since our last album we have other artists on. We’ve also got a lot of shows coming up and I’ve also just launched my solo project as well. The debut single, “Raisin’ Hell” is available now everywhere. You can go here to find all the links

What else do you do besides music?

For work, I own a handyman service here in Austin doing a lot of drywall, painting, etc. I have a lot of hobbies and side hustles as well. I make custom guitar straps and other leather work. I do a lot of artwork and have done most of our merch designs and a lot of our cover art. I’m really into (and borderline obsessed) with health, fitness, and sober living.  I have a hard time sitting still, but fortunately, there’s always a lot to do when you’re self-employed and running a band!

Follow James Tobias: 

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