Hailing from Pullman, Wash., Buffalo Death Beam is an eclectic mix of modern, folk-inspired melodies with eerily beautiful harmonies.
We formed in January of 2009 after band members, Curt Krause (vocals, guitar) and Chris Kiahtipes (percussion), met in 2008 at Washington State University. Through the twos’ connections, they formed Buffalo Death Beam – a name created by a friend assigning team titles while playing a board game. We are now a close knit family people who are able to share music with each other. We have an amazing time together.
Since our inception, Buffalo Death Beam has performed with Local Natives, Low Anthem, Horse Feathers, Joe Pug, Y La Bamba, Dawes, Pickwick, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives, Cedric Watson (2009 Grammy Nominee) and many other wonderful musicians. After performing together for three months, The Inlander, a weekly entertainment publication out of Spokane, Wash., called them, “The best kept secret in the Palouse.” Pullman, WA newspaper the Daily Evergreen described our live performance as "infectious...energetic..the vocals were seductive, playful and made the crowd want to sing along."
Mixed and mastered by John Ervie, we released our first, self-titled EP in December of 2009 and our debut full length album was released in January 2011.
Curt Krause- Vocals, Guitar
Sean Knox- Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Organ
Caitlin Dooley- Violin
Tiffany Harms- Vocals, Accordion, Bassoon
Mike Marshall- Mandolin
Joe Oppegaard- Bass
Chris Kiahtipes- Percussion
Buffalo Death Beam EP Released December 1, 2009
Salvation for Ordinary People LP January 2011
Protected by Falcons and Armed with Death Beams
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Pullman, Wash. Americana/gothic rockers Buffalo Death Beam was up next. The band paired rootsy instr...Pullman, Wash. Americana/gothic rockers Buffalo Death Beam was up next. The band paired rootsy instrumentation with gloomy guitar riffs and drum lines that moved seamlessly between gentle rolls and and percussion to thundering beats that turned the acoustic guitar and violin riffs into driving rockers.
The songs were sprawling arrangements of vocal harmonies and drum builds that dodged the traditonal back-and-forth, verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure of folk music altogether.
That was all highlighted by the smooth low-end hum of a bassoon, an instrument almost unheard of in rock music. But when you start off by calling your band Buffalo Death Beam, clearly, you can do whatever the heck you want.
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You get the sense that Buffalo Death Beam is more like a family than a band. Three of them live toge...You get the sense that Buffalo Death Beam is more like a family than a band. Three of them live together — four when a girlfriend, who is also in the band, is in town. They sing around the fireplace there. And on some days, like today, they make breakfast for each other.
Over the phone from the Pullman home he shares with his band mates, Curt Krause pauses as he’s explaining the roots of his folk-rock band — a smoke detector is squealing somewhere in the background: “It’s burning bacon,” he says, reassuringly.
Krause, the initial spark and primary lyricist behind the seven person band, is explaining how the group came together two years ago, and how they’ve continued to hone their sound over the course of the 60 to 70 shows they’ve played — beginning in Pullman bars and graduating to crowded Seattle music venues.
The band — an assemblage of friends and friends-of-friends — just happened. There were no ads listed on Craigslist looking for drummers or bass players. No recruitment was done. No auditions were held. Krause told his friend, drummer Chris Kiahtipes, that he wanted to play music. And so they did. They added guitarist Sean Knox. A friend, Tiffany Harms (an Inlander contributor), got drunk and said she could sing. So they added her, too. (As a bonus, she’s a bassoonist.) They added a violinist, a bassist, a mandolin player.
“I hadn’t played with them at all, I just liked their character,” Krause says, “and they happened to be really good players.
“It wasn’t like we had planned on anything.” And now, on just their second recorded effort, Salvation for Ordinary People, the band thinks big — musically and thematically. Each song ponders someone ordinary — Krause’s grandfather, someone’s brothers — and considers the beauty and complexity of everyday life. It’s a study in the fine line dividing the commonplace and the exceptional while persistently asking: Is everyone’s life worth a song?
Krause says that despite the album’s inspiration, the stories behind his lyrics aren’t obvious:
“I guess a lot of the songs wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me,” he says, “because they have these themes of what goes through my head … talking about this person and this person in my life.”
Though the songs his band plays are wrought in his brain, the members of Buffalo Death Beam play them like they are their own — as if their seven hands held a giant pen one day and wrote each song. They’re not unorganized, but they feel like an accident: like they got together one night and started singing and playing and an album came out. It is a record that never lacks in spirit or heart. Salvation is a collection of 10 impulsive, honest songs fraught with gorgeous, tingling moments of happenstance.
And it’s an album that exhibits this ragtag bunch of characters’ personalities: On its first track, “Staff of the Shepherd,” Harms and violinist Caitlin Dooley trill in what feels like a whisper next to Krause’s brassy, heart-on-his-sleeve pipes. And a mandolin clicks all the while behind them.
“I guess emotional music is like passion,” Krause says, “If somebody can express that through any type of art, it’s really cool. It makes you feel something. It makes you think. [Our] lyrics might not be superclear, but we can make you feel something.”
And Krause says that Buffalo Death Beam makes its members feel something. That’s where the album title came from: They were just ordinary people who found salvation — even though they may not have been searching for it — in making music together.
“You can find it anywhere.
[Salvation] doesn’t have to be religious. It doesn’t have to be anything,” he says. “We find our salvation in music. And not in a super-religious or spiritual way.”
They don’t just sound like friends. They sound like people who would have found each other no matter what. A family that pushes its members feeds each others’ spirits. And stomachs.
“It’s treatment for us to get together and just play and forget about what else is going on.”
He pauses again. “Shawn is bringing me some eggs right now,” he says. “Thanks, dude.”
Buffalo Death Beam plays with Terrible Buttons, Paper Tigers and Corey Dugan • Sat, Feb. 5, at 9 pm • Aclub • $5 • 21 • aclubspokane.com • 624-3629
Introducing Buffalo Death Beam
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We got a kick out of introducing you to a few under-appreciated bands this month in the ramp-up to t...We got a kick out of introducing you to a few under-appreciated bands this month in the ramp-up to the SXSW show they will be playing. But now that we’ve cracked the seal so to speak, there are still several other great bands out there that we’ve been fortunate to discover, who we can just about guarantee that you haven’t heard of yet. We’re going to step up and fix that. First up is Buffalo Death Beam, from Pullman, Washington.
I’ve personally been listening to this band’s new album Salvation For Ordinary People, constantly, for over a month now. Through the Kanye album, the new Decemberists, and new Mogwai, this virtually unknown seven-piece band I discovered through a random acquaintance made on a road trip six years ago held up strong against fierce competition for airtime.
Buffalo Death Beam formed in 2009, and since they’ve released a self-titled EP and the aforementioned full-length. The band’s music is rich and layered, thanks in part to full-time violinist, a mandolin player, and several multi-intrumentalists packed onto the stage. But what really sets them apart is extraordinary song structuring and golden, harmonious pop/folk hooks. Here’s the first track from Salvation For Ordinary People, called Staff Of The Shepherd. Listen all the way through, because surprises await. You’re going to want to crank it up at about 2:05:
Both the band’s EP and full-length are available for purchase on CDBaby, where you can also preview the rest of the tracks. They’re also on Amazon. The track that follows Shepherd, called Motel Queen, is another must-listen. But this band has too many great songs for them to be flukes. Keep an eye on them, as we will, through their official site.
Pullman bands rock an old church
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Buffalo Death Beam and Local Natives are music to tired ears Sarah Anderson The Daily Evergree...Buffalo Death Beam and Local Natives are music to tired ears
The Daily Evergreen
The lights cast a warm pink glow on the stark white stage. As the first band took the stage, only the high ceilings and some pews were reminders that the concert venue was once a house of worship. When the band started their first song, it seemed as though the backdrop of the drafty church melted away, and an intimate concert setting took hold.
Buffalo Death Beam and Local Natives took the stage at 8 p.m. at the Belltower in Pullman on Friday. About 120 people attended the event. Buffalo Death Beam was the first to hit the stage.
Their music could be described as folk jams with some pop and Americana threads. It was infectious, and the band was energetic. The vocals were seductive, playful and made the crowd want to sing along. The music was always exciting, though it could be best described as folk. There was some definite rock ‘n’ roll in every song. Buffalo Death Beam was able to take different instruments and influences to make the type of music that people get excited about.
As the show progressed, the audience was falling in love with Buffalo Death Beam. At the end of their set, the crowd was on their feet clapping and yelling for the band’s fantastic performance. When Local Natives took the stage, they kept the excitement and the energy high. The transition between bands was seamless. Local Natives have strong instrumentals to back their beautiful harmonized vocals. Four out of the five band members were on vocals. “Their vocals were comparable to the Fleet Foxes,” junior communication major Chelan Lippincott said.
The vocals were the high point of the Local Natives performance. Rarely does a band have such well-crafted harmonies. The music was reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes as well as the Cave Singers, but with more rock and roll. While the voices were the shining star, the instrumentals were just as well put together. The songs “Airplanes” and “World News” were the best representations of the band’s ability to highlight their catchy lyrics with their pop-rock instrumentals. Local Natives has the chemistry that bands have after playing together for decades. Their music was indie pop-rock at its best. “It was really cool to see the people in front singing along on ‘Airplanes,’” said Taylor Rice, guitarist and voice for Local Natives.
Both bands felt the crowd was the highlight of the concert. “The crowd was awesome for us and the Local Natives,” said Chris Kiahtipes, drummer of Buffalo Death Beam. “Everyone who was here wanted to be here and wanted to have a good time.” As the crowd left the concert, people were still excited. Both bands reminded people good music is still being made, and bands can still put on a good show. With so many bands in the indie rock genre, it is difficult to separate the great bands from the rest, but Buffalo Death Beam and Local Natives set themselves apart from the rest.
Chelan Lippincott works in The Daily Evergreen advertising department.
New Music From Buffalo Death Beam
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December 9th, 2009 I’ve got to interrupt my year-end “best of” roundup before it really got start...December 9th, 2009
I’ve got to interrupt my year-end “best of” roundup before it really got started with some new music from a band called Buffalo Death Beam. The band is categorized on all the relevant sites as “folk” but it’s hard to take that at face value since the band is big (seven members), eclectic, occasionally loud, and the songs are more eerie and obtuse than traditional folk. But if you like your folk along the lines of bands like Stand of Oaks, Frontier Ruckus, Ah Holy Fam’ly and Band Of Horses than you will like Buffalo Death Beam.
Here’s the band’s song “Yuma” from their debut EP released just this month. Buy it here.
Buffalo Death Beam - Self-titled EP (2009)
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Buffalo Death Dream is a folk-rock band that hints at pop. Their new EP, self-titled, is more upbeat...Buffalo Death Dream is a folk-rock band that hints at pop. Their new EP, self-titled, is more upbeat than we normally feature. They remind me of the more uptempo stuff from Strand of Oaks, but without the slow, painstaking ballads we love. But I like a few of the tracks on this six-track release, especially the song Leaving the Nest, with great harmonies between Curt Krause and Tiffany Harms, who also plays accordion and bassoon. It's a lovely song with great a beat, and beautiful instrumentation. "Paper Tree" is another lovely song, with inviting percussion and strings, and very good vocals. This is a large band, with seven members. Check them out..I know a few of you want more edgy stuff on the blog....
Two days until Birds on a Wire
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Each day this week, we’re previewing bands playing at this weekend’s inaugural Birds on a Wire f...
Each day this week, we’re previewing bands playing at this weekend’s inaugural Birds on a Wire festival in Pullman. Look for our full story — featuring Rocky Votolato, Justin Townes Earle and Joe Pug — on Thursday.
We made a grandiose claim in our 2009 Local Music Issue about Pullman band, Buffalo Death Beam: we called them "the best-kept secret on the Palouse." For being that good, you'd think we might have said more about them. We haven't, so we will now:
It's no wonder that Stereopathic chose Buffalo Death Beam — a seven-piece folk outfit hatched on the WSU campus — to shepherd in the first night of their newborn festival. They're one year young, but their sound is confident, bold and driven. Male and female vocals combine to make a perfectly imperfect chorus — fiddle, guitar and mandolin do-si-do'ing behind them. It's the kind of music you have on your CD player as you fly through the yellow-green Palouse hills. They're an honest, country-fried symphony — one that shouldn't stay a secret any longer.
Buffalo Death Beam plays The Belltower on Friday, March 26 from midnight to 1 am, and on Saturday, March 27 from 1 - 2 am. Birds on a Wire runs Friday evening and all day Saturday. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 day-of. For more info go here.
Two Hours of original music is available.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.