By Holly Redell Witte
The four members of Mutiny Bay, a heavy metal band from Bellingham, never miss an opportunity to joke around like people who have been together forever do; interesting since they have been together for just under a year.
The universe was in the right place when they found each other. Singers and guitarists Eric Haven and Andy Beech have been together the longest. Haven moved from California to Whatcom County and started hearing Beech in clubs. “I relied on him and I just knew I had to play with this maniac,” he said. They reunited in 2008.
Then they discovered drummer Tanner Scinocco who comes from his birth talent – his mother sang and his father played guitar in Death By Radio, making his choice a must. He had known since the age of about seven that drums were his thing.
Then they needed a lead singer. Through a Craigslist ad, they connected with Bob McCormack and texted him to audition. He agreed, on one condition: they had to wait out the Seahawks game. That alone would have cemented him as Seahawks fans themselves. Luckily, McCormack had the talent too – he played with Child Saint for a long time and did some interesting things with his vocal range. “Yeah, I was in a choir as a kid until I got too cool for it,” he said. The irony is not lost since he is very cool for high notes now. He emigrated from New York via Los Angeles.
Here I must say that I had no knowledge of heavy metal. I went to listen to them because my kitchen painter said he really liked their sound and Beech made 30 guitars for Prince. It was a story right there.
I went to The Beach in Birch Bay on a Saturday to hear them. It was loud, but a terrific Beech guitar riff lasted long enough to have the audience cheering, loving every decibel-filled moment.
I asked them about music versus noise and why they gravitated toward heavy metal. It’s partly their generation. Haven told me he first heard Kiss when he was 12 and knew he wanted to learn “how to do it”. It’s the energy of sound, the ability to connect with an audience and get people out of their heads to forget the world. “We play,” he said, to entertain. “Let’s get together and share a moment. The art does that – it’s the piercing connection of the stage directly to the audience that makes the magic happen.
They play covers and write their music. Beech says 90% of their own music starts with a guitar riff that he throws in and then everyone helps with the arrangement. Scinocco – whose drumming they described as having precision, power and something animalistic about it – keeps it on track. “Tanner makes smooth shifts from one thing to another,” McCormack said. “You don’t see that often. It makes sure you don’t even notice it; it is a whole.
They are the four parts of a whole and exchange the main role on and off stage. There is no ego. Democracy within the band seems to come from commitment to each other and, in particular, to their audience. They are comfortable as musicians and don’t need to be self-centered.
“We play what we love,” McCormack said. “And the public likes it. We also change our sets and change the music, because we don’t want our audience to be bored.
Oh, and about these guitars made by Beech, they are beautiful works of art. He’s been a luthier since 1980. Growing up in Maple Falls, it was too far to pick up strings in Bellingham, so he started making his own guitars. Now he and his artist daughter are teaming up. He’s done 30 for Prince – and plenty for other musicians. His work can be found at dhaitreguitars.com.
It’s not just noise to me anymore; it’s part of musical culture, an art form. Haven summed it up… it’s “melt your face to the music” and it’s irresistible.
Mutiny Bay plays Saturday, July 30 at The Beach at Birch Bay, 7876 Birch Bay Drive. Music starts at 3 p.m.
Holly Redell-Witte reviewed a different kind of art for New York newspapers and magazines for many years. She writes and lives in Whatcom County, currently reading from a book she is writing about the people, places and times of her past.