By Noe Gutierrez
The ensemble that is Burning Bettie has performed a great deal since their inception in 2012. Leading the charge is their inconspicuous front man Giorg Tierez. Many of us in the desert music scene are familiar with this character by now. With a style all his own, Tierez cannot be missed with his embellishment of a beard and all-over tattoos. When Frank Michel, the band’s guitarist, first met Tierez they composed two songs. Michel recalls how Tierez was a work in progress, “Giorg was more raw and developed from there. I saw the potential. He produced music from the heart.”
That graciousness within the music shines through in Burning Bettie’s music. Despite the lack of recognition at this year’s Coachella Valley Music Awards, Tierez and the rest of Burning Bettie continue to progress under the radar with new music and the drive to succeed without the need for nominations or awards. They welcome refinement and the change that is inevitable in any band.
The change I speak of is the addition of rhythm guitarist James Eaton. Tierez is excited at the prospect of playing guitar per diem and freeing himself to focus on being the front man and expand his vocal abilities and range as well as engage the audience more. Already a showman, Tierez has the desire to improve his stage presence even further with Eaton to his right.
Eaton is originally from Reno, Nevada. He is the newest member and was initially a fan of the band. He was discreetly introduced at their show recently at The Hood Bar & Pizza performing five songs. In a band of multi-instrumentalists Eaton fits right in. His love for Led Zeppelin and early 90’s rock fills any void that may have needed filling. “We wanted to make the band more solid and occupy our sound,” guitarist Frank Michel shares. “Having James compliments what we already had.”
If you recall, Burning Bettie gained notoriety as the band that was formed through Craig’s List. Their devotion to music led them to the fellowship they share today. The story line reads like a future music biopic. Instead of a “Where Are They Now?” they will prevail with a “Behind The Music”.
Michel and Josh Ballard, the band’s drummer, compose a majority of the tunes while Tierez writes the lyrics. Ballard and Michel are both prolific on the piano and keyboard. Although they don’t use keyboards in the live setting they utilize these skills to develop their music. Ballard and Michel plan to co-produce their debut album using Ballard’s home studio. So far 23 songs have been written and approximately 15 “jam” songs are currently in development. Having an ample amount of music is a blessing for some bands. Burning Bettie may find it difficult to whittle them down to an album’s worth. Tierez states his displeasure for recording, “I don’t like the recording process. I’m a perfectionist and don’t want to settle for less. That becomes a problem in the studio.”
Michel is less a perfectionist and more of a muse to the rest of the band. That is no coincidence given that Michel was once in a Muse tribute band. “Frank is the idea guy,” Ballard admits. “We build off of what he’s doing.” Michel started as a percussionist and drummer and only began playing the guitar several years ago. “My song ideas are developed in the moment. I don’t think long and hard,” Michel professes.
Shawn Fisher is the band’s bassist and tallest member. He and Ballard have been friends since childhood. Fisher is excited about the future of the band. “We’re getting ready to record and make the time to continue to progress and improve.”
Despite the presence of these strong personalities, Burning Bettie is a self-directed entity. “None of us are afraid to speak our mind,” Giorg states. “We explore all of our options and use a democratic process when working together.” Michel further stipulates the sense of cohesion, “We all have our roles and we can all depend on each other without hesitation.”
Recently, the band began to sell Burning Bettie t-shirts through Jacob Williams their merchandise producer. The shirts are a hit with their fans and are available through the band’s Facebook page.
In the works is a Burning Bettie podcast that will feature the recording process and include everything that goes into maintaining Burning Bettie. You will be able to access the podcast through iTunes.
Burning Bettie will be performing next at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert on June 6th along with Long Duk Dong and Elektric Lucie. There is no cover charge for this event.