The Beat Seekers are a young up and coming band from Omaha Nebraska. They play a new sounding old brand of pop rock music. These guys are very good musicains and take their music seriously. If you ever get a chance to see The Beat Seekers play live make sure you take advantage of it. Theri live show has a bit of a rough edge. Their debut CD Dead Air Radio is full of great hooks and lyrics. This is one band you should look out for in the near future.
THE BEAT SEEKERS
Billy Rose: Hey guys, it’s nice to meet you. Are you all from Omaha?
Ryan Garza: I’m from Sterling (Illinois) actually. I was born here. Everybody else is from Omaha.
Billy Rose: Okay, now it makes sense. I saw your tour schedule. It was like Des Moines, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Sterling (laughs). Let’s start out with what other bands you have played with.
Kyle Fertwagner: We were all in bands before this one. I was in The Fonzarelli’s, Sweet Action Hero from Kansas City, Magpie Faction, and The Runarounds.
Ryan Garza: Benji and I were in the Miscasts. Two thirds of us were in The Fonzarelli’s, an Omaha band that was around for years. With the same front man, Keith. He writes all of our material for this band.
Keith Fertwagner : The first band I was in was a punk band called Magpie Faction is was awful and cool at the same time. The Fonzarelli’s, Ammunition Affair in LA, The Shocker with Jennifer Finch the bass player from L7.
Billy Rose: How about influences for this band.
Keith Fertwagner: The Beatles and the Stones. I’m into both, you’ve got your conundrum Stones fans and Beatles fans, I’m into both. The Kinks, The Who, The Clash, The Stooges, The Ramones. There are so many. I like Motown. It’s hard to say because anything that I like influences me. And I like a lot of music. If I listen to a certain song and I like it. I’m not gonna rip that record off. But I write something that’s kinda that vibe. If something is good it’s good. I like some new bands, but none of them inspire me. The older generations before me are way more inspirational than what’s going on now.
Kyle Fertwagner: The Beatles, The Who, The Clash. Some of that R&B Motown stuff.
Ryan Garza: The Replacements.
Kyle Fertwagner: The Beach Boys, you can hear it all over the album. We call it the Brian Wilson parts (laughs). It’s really high, parts that sound great when you’re singing to yourself in the shower but when you try to do it live it just doesn’t work as well (laughs). We’re all over the place but at the same time I think Keith has been able to make it ours. We’re not just recycling what others have already done. We’re continuing that Rock ‘n’ Roll inventiveness.
Ryan Garza: For a new generation.
Kyle Fertwagner : We’re just trying to make good music. We’re trying to fill that pop music void. Instead of trying to recycling Creed and Nickleback (laughs). Daughtry and all that stuff. It’s not good, but people flock to it. I’d rather play in front of fifty people that understand what we’re doing and are really into it, than play to a thousand people that are just sheep. You know, they like you because that’s what they’re supposed to like.
Billy Rose: Because that’s what you hear on the radio.
Kyle Fertwagner: Exactly!
Ryan Garza: Hence the name of the record (laughs).
Billy Rose: Where did the band name come from?
Kyle Fertwagner : We were just kinda brainstorming different names and Keith came up with it based off of heat seeker missiles. But, the main reason he wanted it was so we’d be near The Beatles in the record bins (laughs).
Ryan Garza: It fits, it really does, it fits. When he suggested it we all liked it immediately.
Billy Rose: When you play in front of an audience do find that they accept you or do look at you a say what are these guys doing?
Kyle Fertwagner : I think we get a positive response. We’re a band that people can dance to and let loose. Usually we play in front of drunks and that helps (laughs). Even in Omaha we bitch about the indie scene and this and that. But the core of the indie scene likes us. They understand what we’re doing and they are into the same kind of music that we are. And we’re into what they’re doing too.
Ryan Garza: When people don’t know what to expect hear us, they think we’re gonna be a punk band or something. We all used to be in punk bands and we carry some of that with us. We have some of those punk elements. When they hear us it defies whatever they thought we would sound like. It tends to be a good surprise. It’s like oh, okay! We usually get a good reaction.
Billy Rose: I grew up listening to punk in the seventies. And today music classified as punk is a whole different thing.
Kyle Fertwagner: Punk ain’t punk today. You listen to The Ramones and then listen to Blink 182 you’re not listening to the same genre of music. The record labels need to sell something and Travis Barker has a fucking Mohawk so let’s call it punk.
Billy Rose: Green Day sounds more like a pop band than punk. That’s where I place you guys. I don’t think of you as punk or pop, but you fall under the umbrella of rock. So I just wondered what you categorize yourself as.
Kyle Fertwagner: You’re required to categorize yourself. We just play music and if people like it they like it.
Ryan Garza: Green Day is one of those bands that we get compared too. It’s not a bad thing. They write great music.
Billy Rose: Where do your ideas for songs come from?
Kyle Fertwagner: That’s yours Keith!
Keith Fertwagner: Ideas for songs. Where do I get ideas for songs? I just sit down and if I have an inspiration of some sort I write. I don’t really write about specifics. I write about a lot of things and throw them into another thing and it ends up being a whole other thing. And that turns into a song, ya know. It starts with a chord progression or a guitar lick and I write lyrics to it. I try not to think about a specific moment. Sometimes I do. But usually it’s a whole lot of moments turned into one thing.
Billy Rose: Have you ever tried to come up with a song about a certain thing?
Keith Fertwagner: I have.
Billy Rose: Easy or hard?
Keith Fertwagner: Easy! It’s always easy. When it happens it just happens. The songs write themselves. If I start thinking too much the song doesn’t get written. It’s almost like you have a brain that pops out an antenna and it picks up a signal and that signal goes through you and ends up on a piece of paper and into your guitar and it just kind of happens. It has to happen naturally or it doesn’t happen at all. If I try to force anything, nothing happens. Hopefully that makes sense. It’s kind of cryptic.
Billy Rose: So where do you want to take this band? Do you want national and international exposure?
Keith Fertwagner: Of course! I’ve done nothing else since I was thirteen years old. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. From the time I was about four years old. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan when I was a little kid. When he did the Moonwalk. From that moment I thought this is what I want to do. I want to be a Rock Star. He wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roller but he led the way to bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses, Motley Crue and that kind of stuff. When I was eight years old that was happening then. It all was a progression from there.
Billy Rose: The title track. Tell me about the title track.
Keith Fertwagner: It’s a frustration track. There is a big problem with radio today. A lot of it is with…like Clear Channel…I hope you’re not on a Clear Channel station…there are these diseases in radio. Basically it’s about my frustration when I turn on the radio and hear the same ten songs every hour. And those ten songs are crap. These radio stations shove crap down people’s throat. People digest it; it’s easy to digest that crap.
Billy Rose: I just finished up several interview with a group of guys who are in their fifties. They all started playing when they were teenagers. Do you see yourself playing into your fifties and later?
Keith Fertwagner: Absolutely! It’s a religion. People are way into their religion and music is my religion (laughs).
Billy Rose: How about you Kyle?
Kyle Fertwagner: Oh yeah! I’ve tried the nine to five thing. I‘ve tried to make real money, it’s not gonna happen. I’m here. This is what I am.
Billy Rose: Did you grow up in a musical family?
Keith Fertwagner: We did actually. My dad plays guitar, both sisters play instruments. My mom tries to sing (laughs).
Kyle Fertwagner: Our family is musical, but my brother (Keith) is probably one of the best songwriters around right now. I say that with no reservations. He is severely underrated. That is the reason I’m out here. I don’t care how long it takes. Five years, ten years. People will hear this stuff.