Biv and Mark Ryan with Supertouch at the Anti-Matter Book Release show, 11/24/2007, Photo: Sean Lewis
Biv is easily one of my favorite guitarists in all of music - period. Having played most famously in Supertouch, Biv has a guitar sound that is totally his own, and a style that distinguishes him from almost anyone else in hardcore. This is the beginning of a very long overdue interview with the man himself. Go listen to the opening swells at the beginning of "Engine" if any refresher is needed. Genius. -Gordo DCXX
Ok, I first started playing guitar when I was 9 years old, around 1978-79. It's strange, because I grew up in a very strict home. My father was a heavy disciplinarian, but insistent on his children being well educated and well rounded. There was a piano in our house which I refused to even touch, so my Dad bought me an acoustic guitar and sent me to lessons at a local music store.
Well, I learned some basic stuff but eventually quit after a few months. This is strange too, because I was really fascinated with electric guitar. However, there was no way my father was going to get me an electric guitar. He hated any rock music from the Beatles up to the present moment. This had quite an effect on me.
Biv driving the Engine, Photo: Sean Lewis
You see, my Dad was so against current music and I was so mesmerized by it. In 1976, a cousin bought me Destroyer, by Kiss. My Dad eventually took it away from me. He said it was making me do poorly in school. I'll admit he was right. I was far more interested in Rock than anything else.
I vividly remember the commercial for 'The Kids are Alright' in 1979. Pete Townsend holding the Les Paul over his head and smashing it down on the stage. Or seeing briefly on the news, clips of Kiss, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, or even the Sex Pistols. Seeing things like this had such an effect on me, while my Dad would cuss and swear at the TV and say what a bunch of losers these people were.
Along with visual stimulation, the electric guitar sound always had a physical effect on me. It would move me to feel emotions I couldn't explain. My stomach would get butterflies, I'd get goosebumps. I would feel empowered and fearful at the same time. Here's an example: When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my Mum had a vinyl copy of Godspell, the musical. In the Finale when Jesus is crucified there's this wailing crazy guitar solo. I listened to that, and only that until the vinyl was so scratched up it wouldn't play correctly anymore.
A Supertouch DCXX sing along at the Anti-Matter show, Photo: Sean Lewis
Then, the thing that sent me over the edge and made me want to really learn the guitar was hearing AC/DC in 1980. I talked my Mum into buying me 'If You Want Blood' one night when we were at the local mall. It was for $4.76. That was the record that put me on this path. That was the record that made me want to go back to lessons.
Also in 1979, my parents divorced. My father seemed to become even more strict and I started to become a very introverted kid. Don't get me wrong, I played sports in my town (Little League Baseball and Soccer) and I had friends. However, I wasn't a good student so I was always grounded and under house arrest it seemed. The only thing I had was that acoustic guitar. I worked with that thing constantly to learn everything I could.
So, I chose the guitar because it made me feel powerful and good. But it wasn't totally a cry for attention. I was obsessed with this thing, or more so under a spell. I still am.
To be continued...
Biv and Mark with Supertouch, Photo: Sean Lewis