A Band Called Pain
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A Band Called Pain

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Metal


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"A Band Called Pain: Headbangas For Lyfe"

When we first opened the mailing from this band's publicist and saw four black dudes in black t-shirts, we thought that this CD must have been meant for the Sucker Free blog editor. But then we took a second glance at the press photo and noticed one of the gentlemen was wearing a Black Flag shirt and another was flashing the devil horns. So, we popped the disc in the player and discovered the ultimate in black metal.

Bay Area-based outfit A Band Called Pain play dark, brooding music influenced by Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath and, perhaps, Godflesh and Disturbed. The songs on ABCP's debut, Broken Dreams (out in July), are filled with sludgy downtuned guitars, powerful, multi-octave vocals and minor-key background harmonies that have nothing in common with gangsta rap or other African American rockers like Living Colour, Body Count and Bad Brains.

We could have easily gone down the hip-hop or R&B route, and each of us at one time or another has given it a shot, says guitarist and songwriter Shaun Bivens. "We could be making raps about growing up in the hood and gang violence, but that's just not who we are. We're four guys who grew up loving heavy metal, so that's what we play. For us, it is the song that matters most."

A Band Called Pain were formed by Bivens and his cousin, singer Allen Anthony in the late 90s. The group was rounded out by bassist Bryan Dean and drummer Tony Providence. Even though they're still a few months away from their album release, A Band Called Pain are off to a good start. They've generated a strong fanbase in San Francisco, their song "Holy" was included on the Saw 2 soundtrack and Hellbound was played on Dane Cook's HBO reality series Tourgasm.

A video for the Broken Dreams track "ThePieces" and snippets from six songs can be accessed at the band's official Web site. - MTV 2 , Headbangers Ball/Headbangers blog, May 8th 2007

"Rumblings: A BAND CALLED PAIN, March 2006"

BASSIST: Bryan Dean

ALBUM: Broken Dreams

SOUNDS LIKE: Equal parts hard rock and metal, heavy on the riffs.

HISTORY: Cousins Allen Richardson and Shaun Bivens formed A Band Called Pain three years ago, recruiting drummer Tony Providence shortly thereafter. About a year ago- after Dean asked the question, "Where have all the black rockers int eh Bay Area gone?" - a friend told him to check out ABCP, and he was floored when he saw them. They joined forces, bringing an end to a revolving cast of bass players. Their bone-crunching "Holy" can be found on the recently released soundtrack to the movie SAW II.

TALK BOX: "The role of bass can vary greatly, but first and foremost I try to lock it down with the drummer because that's what gets the train rolling, especially in a live setting. If the rhythm section has it locked, the crowd will feel it. It doesn't always need to be prominent, but certainly noticeable. Even in the quiet moments, a soothing rumble keeps folks engaged."

GEAR BOX: Dean plays a Lakland Deluxe 5 string tunes ACGCF, and a Fender Jazz Bass. "I wish the list were longer," he says, " but it's rough out there for a lefty." He uses and Eden World Tour 800 head and two Aguilar 4x10 cabinets, DR Marcus Miller Hi Beams, .45-.125, and sometimes a Dunlop M-80 Bass D.I. "For a little dirt."
- Bass Guitar Magazine

"NorCal Underground Metal Report: Best of '06"

My initial reaction to this band was less than enthusiastic, but over time they've grown on me. Their debut recording is a bit thin on production, but loaded with memorable riffs that showcase their strong songwriting skills that combine the best of the hard rock and heavy metal genres. Plus, with 17 tracks, they certainly don't skimp on the content - Zero Magazine, January 2007

"No Pain, No Gain"

No Pain, No Gain
After leaving "def soul" behind, the members of A Band Called Pain prepare to break out as an old-fashioned, all-black grunge outfit.
By Rachel Swan
Published: August 1, 2007

Local rock outfit A Band Called Pain doesn't exactly match up with the other acts on indie rap hip-hop label Hiero Imperium. Guitarist Shaun Bivens wears a Mohawk, a wallet chain studded with dice, and black nail polish. Lead singer Allen Richardson keeps a permanent five o'clock shadow and has the slurry drawl of Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. Drummer Tony Providence takes the stage in a full-body skeleton costume. Bassist Bryan Dean (aka Dark Kent) wears Basquiat T-shirts and performs barefoot. The band's songs, which feature ominous bells tolling, crunchy electric guitar solos, and samples from Gregorian chant, sound intentionally anachronistic — even though the idea of an all-African-American rock band is still pretty cutting-edge.

In fact, the only thing that binds the members of A Band Called Pain with the backpackers on Hiero is their race and their shared resentment for mainstream record companies. Still, it's a good fit. Hiero emcee turned mogul Tajai approached the band at a show two years ago. "He said, 'That's a good record, man, what are you guys doing with it?'" Bivens recalled. "We were like, 'We're just sitting on it right now.' They were like, 'If you guys wanna put it out, you know, [we] got distribution with Universal." It turned out to be a smart move.

Despite lacking some key elements on the business end — Bivens still doesn't have his own e-mail account, much to everyone's annoyance — A Band Called Pain didn't come to the table empty-handed. It had garnered a large fan base playing the Rooster's Roadhouses of the world; its video could hold its own against any recorded band performance on VH1; the band is getting spins on 107.7 the Bone. Its new album Broken Dreams ranked #21 on the FMQB Metal 100. Best of all, they have the drama — in the form of an ex-rapper and commercial R&B singer who'd essentially fallen from grace. In a former life, Bivens was actually a rapper; he cut a deal with RCA under the stage name Chocolate Chip. Richardson currently works at a South Bay bicycle company, but in his former life he was one half of Christión, the first R&B duo to sign with Jay-Z's label Roc-a-Fella.

Tajai says that if ever he planned to stake a small fortune on a grunge rock four-piece, this was the one. "It was a no-brainer," he said. Still, Bivens and Richardson are wary. They've been burned before, Richardson said: "After being on a major label you see all the bullshit."

Richardson and Bivens formed their first garage band when they were ten. Dubbing themselves High Voltage, they played Iron Maiden covers at ten times the speed, using two congas and an ice chest for a drum set. Even as a rapper, Bivens couldn't abandon the endorphin rush of rock 'n' roll: In 1992 he pulled out an electric guitar while performing at a hip-hop showcase for Gavin magazine and then-fledgling station Wild 94.9, and launched into a wailing Jimi Hendrix solo. The crowd was shell-shocked.

But Bivens and Richardson didn't see a future in rock, and they wanted to get paid. The magic ticket was so-called "urban music" — i.e., hip-hop and R&B. Richardson and his longtime friend Kenni Ski formed Christión in 1992, and signed to Jay-Z's then-fledgling label in 1996. He says the hip-hop-oriented label really had no idea how to market a neo-soul group. "We were on tour with Jay-Z," he recalls, adding that the label wanted to treat Christión's 1997 effort, Ghetto Cyrano, as though it were just another rap album. "'Def soul' was just a word that we used around the office. It didn't get established until we left the label and they signed Musiq Soulchild."

Christión fell through the cracks when Roc-a-Fella got a distribution deal with Def Jam in 1997. Richardson got locked into a deal as a solo artist (Roc-a-Fella cofounder Damon Dash called him a week after dropping the duo), though no album ever materialized. "I didn't like it," he says. "Especially when you're on a label where the rapper is the biggest rapper in the world, and you have 22 acts that never came out. There was a rift between Dame and Jay-Z, and we all got caught in it." Richardson says he didn't completely sever ties with Roc-a-Fella until 2005. "I called Damon from work and said, 'I don't wanna do this anymore.' It wasn't a good relationship. He let me go free and clear, which was the least he could do as far as I'm concerned."

A Band Called Pain began as a studio project in 2001, when Bivens and Richardson started writing songs together and "jamming on some metal shit" — as Bivens puts it — just to see what would happen. Richardson wrote the lyrics, which deal heavily with emotional catharsis, while Bivens produced all the tracks. At first, they had no intention of getting serious. But things started coming apart at Roc-a-Fella, and Richardson says he had to start thinking of Plan Bs. They recruited Providence to hold down drum duties, started recording, and went through a string of bass players before settling on Dean. Bivens, who came up with the name, said it nods to A Tribe Called Quest but foregrounds Richardson's preoccupation with pain.

Seen live, the band is stunning. Bivens, with his chunky, rumbling, nonmelodic guitar solos and punk-rock getup — wristband, chain, rings, spiky hair — has the wallop of an '80s metal demigod. Richardson hides behind a pair of aviator sunglasses that, when coupled with his lyrics, hark to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. His voice has toughened since the Christión days, and the new, grittier tenor brings life to lines like I feel so empty/I feel so helpless, which may sound vague and self-pitying on the page but ring true when performed live. These allusions to private ruin and self-immolation may or may not relate to Richardson's personal strife — his wife's cancer, his son's autism, or his shaky dealings with Roc-a-Fella — but they're definitely an extension of his psychology.

So they've embraced the pain pretty convincingly; now they just need to sell the albums. Dean insists that won't be too hard. "If we get out and are seen in front of the right crowds, kids'll go crazy," the bassist said. "I mean, artistically, because of the music. Sociologically, because we're all brothers doing this. You know how that works, man, it's like we're the Eminem of the rock world." Richardson isn't tripping. He says that back in the Roc-a-Fella days he played one of his early rock demos for Damon Dash, who couldn't believe it was the same person singing. "If I gave it to Jay-Z, he would have wanted to do something with it," he said.

But he hasn't called Jay-Z lately, and really, there's no need. This October A Band Called Pain will open for Buckcherry and Smashing Pumpkins at the Verizon Wireless Center in Indianapolis. The group is getting plenty of mileage on its own.
Show All - East Bay Express

"Incoming: New Music For Dangerous Minds"

WHAT DO THEY SOUND LIKE? - Totally excellent classic proper rock shit, a la Faith No More. Kinda Megadethy as well, now come to mention it. A bit grungey too, but not in an off-putting, dated fashion. Songs though, dudes, SONGS! And class lines like "I don't wanna meet your maker" shot through with brilliant guitar solos. This is a band to love with all your heart.

WHO'S IN THE BAND? - Allen Richardson (vocals), Shaun Bivens (guitar/background vocals) Tony Providence (drums) and Bryan Dean, a.k.a. Dark Kent (bass)

WHERE ARE THEY FROM ? - San Francisco,CA

THE STORY SO FAR? - The band (Called Pain) hooked up in 2001 and spent a healthy five years carefully honing their style before unleashing their debut, "Broken Dreams" in 2006. A track from that record, "Holy", made its way onto the SAW 2 soundtrack, and the band quickly found themselves on the fast track to bigness. It wasn't always this way though - guitarist Shaun was once a relatively large Bay Area rapper called Chocolate Chip, and vocalist Allen was one half of Christion, an RnB duo signed to Jay-Z's Rocafella label. Okaaaay...

CURRENT RELEASE: "Broken Dreams" is available now on Hiero Imperium.

WEBSITE: www.abandcalledpain.com

FOR FANS OF: Soundgarden, Faith No More, Stone Temple Pilots - Metal Hammer Magazine U.K., March 2008

"Breaking the Mold, by Vincent Christmas"

When I recently asked a music industry friend if he had heard A Band Called Pain, he gave me a puzzled look and responded, Sure, I love the Swedish band Pain. No, not the Swedish band, I continued. They're and up and coming Bay Area act called A Band Called Pain. Frustration and hilarity ensued until I gave up. My friend left a message a few days later. I just heard A Band Called Pain, he said. I get it now. This twist on Abbot and Costello's classic Who's On First comedy routine is not unique now that the bands debut, Broken Dreams has been re-released. West Coast music lovers have had the chance to enjoy it for more than a year now and it was voted one of Zero Magazines top 10 California releases of '06.

Since forming in 2001, guitarist Shaun Bivens, singer Allen Richardson, drummer Tony Providence and bassist Dark Kent have been building both their reputation and a huge West Coast following. Until the re-release of Broken Dreams, however, their only forays outside the Bay Area have been their contributions to the Saw 2 soundtrack and to Dane Cook's HBO series Tourgasm.

Hoping to head out on their first international tour this fall, A Band Called Pain are currently toiling away in their studio, writing songs for their second album. Bivens took a short break however, to talk with BLACK TAIL.

BLACK TAIL: How did the re-release of Broken Dreams come about?

SHAUN BIVENS: It was never really released before. Only a thousand copies were made, so it was a very local thing. One of my close friends is a pretty predominant hip hop cat. He runs Hieroglyphic-Imperium Recordings. The Oakland based label that's home to Del The Funkee Homosapien and Souls of Mischief. He approached me after one of our shows and said, The shows are great and you have this record done, but it's not doing anything. I said, Dude, it's pretty much just sitting there. It needs to be remixed and remastered. He said, I'll put it out with you guys. I have a distribution deal with Fontana/Universal.

BT: Isn't Fontana primarily a hip hop label?

SB: It's mostly hip hop and R&B, but former Pantera and current HellYeah drummer Vinny Paul's new label, Big Vin Records is distributed through there.

BT: Was it hard setting your new songs aside to promote your debut again?

SB: Broken Dreams never received a push before so it's not a problem. Anyway, it's going to take another six to eight months before we finish writing the new songs.

BT: Although A Band Called Pain has been together for nearly seven years, the band might soon be called an overnight success.

SB: (Laughing) Isn't that always the case? We've been doing this a lot longer than that. We've been at it since we were kids.

BT: When did your fascination with rock begin?

SB: My cousin, A Band Called Pain singer, Allen Richardson brought Kiss's Love Gun album over to my house. After listening to it, I said, We should be Kiss for Halloween. And then we decided to start a band. This was before we learned how to play our instruments. In the beginning, we sucked bad. We drove my aunt up the wall for five years. No one took lessons. We just opened up the Montgomery Ward catalogues and bought cheap-ass instruments. Then we switched instruments around until we all got comfortable with what we were playing. By the time we were 14 or 15, it began to sound decent.

BT: While growing up, did you get a lot of shit for appreciating both hip hop and rock?

SB: It was the same for all of us in this band. I love hip hop, but the first time I heard the Buzzcocks and Black Flag , I flipped. We were all into skateboarding and the best stuff to skate to was Punk. Fear is the best Punk band ever. I had my gangsta friends, I had my friends who were into breakdancing and graffiti, and I used to hang out with Metal kids. There used to be race riots at Sunset High in Hayward. It would be the Blacks against the Mexicans one day and the Blacks against the Whites the next. But when you get caught up in the middle, it's th closest guy to you who is getting punched. I didn't care which ethnic background; I didn't care if you were Jewish of Chinese. If you got too close you were getting punched.

BT: What caused the break from playing rock music?

SB: Hip Hop happened. We started rapping and I began creating beats for the neighborhood kids. I was just 17 years old when i went off to produce this record for some of my other cousins. They got a deal with Fantasy/Stax Records, home of Creedence Clearwater Revival, who owned the rights to a lot of the Stax/Volt Records collection.

BT: What were they called?

SB: The Wild Boyz. They dropped their self-titled debut in '89.

BT: Having access to that classic Stax/Volt southern-fried Soul and Blues had to be sick.

SB: We had access to classic Isaac Hayes music! At the time, the sampling laws were just kicking in, but everyone we sampled got paid. It was cool, cause all we had to do was phone the artist and ask for permission.

BT: At what point did you say, I want to go back to playing rock?

SB: I love Hip Hop. I was a B-boy to the hilt. Anytime I hear Planet Rock, I flip out. But there's no movement in hip hop. Back then hip hop also included graffiti and break dancing; it was a culture. That's gone. And i can't rap about things I don't believe in, like diamonds and gold. People in South Africa are suffering over diamonds. I ain't buying no diamonds. My cousin Allen was part of Christion, the second act, after Jay-Z, to sign with Roc-A-Fella. Then he did a solo thing under the name Allen Anthony. When his contract was coming to an end, he didn't want to re-sign with them. He was doing R&B, but because it wasn't like Usher, they didn't know how to work with him. Him music was Neo-Soul, almost adult contemporary.

BT: Quiet Storm?

SB: No. The best way to describe it is Neo-Soul. It was serious shit and didn't have any bubblegum to it, so the label had a hard time marketing it. Allen didn't make a lot of money, though he was with them for more than nine years. It took a lot of his life away; his time with his family. He was sick of it and I was tired of the direction hip hop was going in. My cousin and I looked at each other and said, Fuck it. We're going to do what made us happy; the stuff we were doing when we started doing this shit. Let's pick up our instruments and go back to playing rock. Let's find a couple of cats we can make music with. It was cool, cause it took me back to '92 when I last had a little rock project, which got picked up by Geffen records.

BT: What happened with that?

SB: Nothing was released. Things fell apart when the singer, another of my cousins, got killed in a shootout with the police.

BT: That's hard.

SB: Yeah, it was. But hard rock gives me the chance to talk about whatever the fuck I want to talk about. I can express myself in anyway I want. We're not trying to sell records or make a hit son; we're just writing about stuff we did.

BT: How did A Band Called Pain's SAW 2 contribution, "Holy" come about?

SB: The guy putting the soundtrack together said, You guys have a great song. Do you want to put it on this movie? We said, What movie? He said, SAW 2. We said, um sure.

BT: How are things going within the band now that success is within reach?

SB: We've been pumpin' away and having a great time. But there's been a little bit of band drama.

BT: Details?

SB: Me, the drummer and chicks (laughs) I'll leave it at that. But it's all good. Our original bass player - I won't mention his name had a substance abuse problem. He was a great musician, a savant, but he wasn't there for us. The next bassist was a complete rock star.

BT: All flash and no substance?

SB: Exactly. Finally, we found Dark Kent.

BT: I love that name.

SB: Well, he does look like a chocolate superman.

BT: The ingredients of success: talent, hard work and a little luck.

SB: We're going to keep pushing and pushing and see where it goes. Whether it goes anywhere or not, we're doing what we love doing. Everything else we did, we did because someone offered us money. When your 18 or 21 and some big record company offers you 150 grand to record, the next thing you know, you're a rapper.

BT: In the music business, 150K doesn't go very far.

SB: Exactly. It was a good lesson for us. It taught us what to do and what not to do. And getting jerked around is easier when you're doing something you love and believe in.

BT: And now you are getting ready to take on the world with the re-release of your debut.

SB: After almost seven years, it's finally starting to happen. Hopefully, God will bless us and keep it moving. I'm proud of this little record we did in my little studio. I hope people continue embracing it like they have.

BT: Now, if people will only remember the quartet is called A Band Called Pain.

SB: Some people call us Band Called Pain and some people call us just Pain. What matters is people are talking about us.

- Black Tail Magazine - January 2008


1.Broken Dreams - Full length album released independently in 2006. Picked up for national re-release via Hiero Imperium (Universal Music) July, 10th,2007

2. Three song advance promotional release of 2nd album - working title "Beautiful Gun" Released March 16th 2007 for SXSW music festival.

3.Beautiful Gun - 2010, Talking House Productions



Since 2001, A BAND CALLED PAIN has been developing their muscular style and entertaining thousands. Cousins and lovers of all that is rock, Allen Richardson (vocals) and Shaun Bivens (guitar & b.g. vocals), teamed with like minded rhythm section mates Tony Providence (drums), and Bryan Dean, a.k.a. Dark Kent (bass) to form one of the best hard rock/metal bands in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whichever end of the spectrum a rock connoisseurs taste may lie, A.B.C.P.'s versatile style satisfies. From ballads to thrash, they do it all, and do it well. Hints of Alice and Chains, Metallica and Soundgarden sprinkle the landscape, but what sonically rises is undeniably their own.

6 years of constant gigging and hard work are beginning to payoff. Their first full length CD, "Broken Dreams", was voted one of the top 10 best independent Northern California releases of 2006 by Zero Magazine. One track from the album, "Holy" was featured on the soundtrack to the hit horror film "SAW 2". A.B.C.P. was the only indie band to be on this CD with rock icons such as Marilyn Manson, Mudvayne, and Sevendust. A second track, "Hellbound" was played during an episode of TOURGASM, Dane Cook's television series on HBO. Most recently A.B.C.P. performed in front of 15,000 folks at X-Fest 2007 in Indianapolis and followed that up with a gig in New York City for the CMJ Music Conference. Within the past year, A.B.C.P also performed for South By Southwest music conference in Austin,TX. The buzz began when Billy Steel, the now former, but longtime DJ at San Francisco rock radio station 107.7 "The Bone", featured A.B.C.P., on the popular show, "The Metal Zone ”. As quoted by the DJ, I gotta tell you, your CD is the kind that goes into the CD player and stays there!"

On their journey, A BAND CALLED PAIN has shared stages with great bands such as Living Colour, Mushroomhead, Prong,Shinedown, Smashing Pumpkins, The Bravery and Another Animal. They’'ve also played larger gigs such as the Talking House Productions Special Industry Showcase which included performances by members of Metallica, Guns and Roses, Velvet Revolver and Linkin Park.

With a national re-release of Broken Dreams happening in July 2007 and a follow up cd in the works, A BAND CALLED PAIN is poised to break barriers and make their mark on a grand scale. Expect the unexpected.