Black Rock Revival
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Black Rock Revival

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
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April 20, 2013 - (left to right) Sebastian Banks and Percy Blue of Black Rock Revival perform at the Music Magnet Soulfest, hosted by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The event celebrates the culmination the annual Opus One series as well as the MSO's Symphony Soul Project, a yearlong, free concert series offered in the Soulsville community. (Kyle Kurlick/Special to The Commercial Appeal) - The Commercial Appeal


Mission Control

Black Rock Revival

Self-released

Photo with no caption

Memphis singer/guitarist Sebastian Banks started Black Rock Revival two years ago with the express intention, as the name pretty much states, of reclaiming the music invented by Chuck Berry and Little Richard for African Americans.

It’s a daunting task, one which has been tried by the likes of Living Colour and 24-7 Spyz to name just two. And Banks, former lead singer of a Metallica cover band who had just begun to learn guitar, faced longer odds than most in a city that remains pretty segregated musically. With scant resources and one failed effort behind him, Banks made his second CD, last year’s Keep It Together, in his apartment with his two then-new bandmates, Hype playing electronic drums and bassist Percy “Blue” Mitchell, wearing headphones so as not to disturb the neighbors. It was a dismal atmosphere in which to record a rock album, and the claustrophobic sound of the disc reflected it.
Singer-guitarist Sebastian Banks leads Black Rock Revival.

On their follow-up, Mission Control, currently available at Spin Street and at the band’s shows, Black Rock Revival has found much better digs and the result is a much more organic and successful effort. The new record benefits from the steadying hand of local studio ace Kevin Houston working out of Midtown’s Music + Arts Studio, formerly Sounds Unreel. (A documentary about the album’s making is in the works.)

Having the players in the same room actually listening to each other play real instruments gives standout tracks like “Genetic Trait” and “Lola Falana” the requisite energy they require. There are a lot of musical touchstones here, notably Jimi Hendrix and his late ’60s contemporaries like Blues Cheer and Cream as well as funkier later day influences like Prince and Living Colour, and the band assimilates them well into something altogether unique on the local scene. Banks songwriting — at times too monotonous, too frenetic at others — doesn’t always keep up, but in all this a great leap forward for a band on a mission.

Black Rock Revival performs at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar Ave., with the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and the Incredible Hooks; and on Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at the Peabody Hotel Rooftop Party with FreeSol.

© 2011 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


- Go Memphis


Mission Control

Black Rock Revival

Self-released

Photo with no caption

Memphis singer/guitarist Sebastian Banks started Black Rock Revival two years ago with the express intention, as the name pretty much states, of reclaiming the music invented by Chuck Berry and Little Richard for African Americans.

It’s a daunting task, one which has been tried by the likes of Living Colour and 24-7 Spyz to name just two. And Banks, former lead singer of a Metallica cover band who had just begun to learn guitar, faced longer odds than most in a city that remains pretty segregated musically. With scant resources and one failed effort behind him, Banks made his second CD, last year’s Keep It Together, in his apartment with his two then-new bandmates, Hype playing electronic drums and bassist Percy “Blue” Mitchell, wearing headphones so as not to disturb the neighbors. It was a dismal atmosphere in which to record a rock album, and the claustrophobic sound of the disc reflected it.
Singer-guitarist Sebastian Banks leads Black Rock Revival.

On their follow-up, Mission Control, currently available at Spin Street and at the band’s shows, Black Rock Revival has found much better digs and the result is a much more organic and successful effort. The new record benefits from the steadying hand of local studio ace Kevin Houston working out of Midtown’s Music + Arts Studio, formerly Sounds Unreel. (A documentary about the album’s making is in the works.)

Having the players in the same room actually listening to each other play real instruments gives standout tracks like “Genetic Trait” and “Lola Falana” the requisite energy they require. There are a lot of musical touchstones here, notably Jimi Hendrix and his late ’60s contemporaries like Blues Cheer and Cream as well as funkier later day influences like Prince and Living Colour, and the band assimilates them well into something altogether unique on the local scene. Banks songwriting — at times too monotonous, too frenetic at others — doesn’t always keep up, but in all this a great leap forward for a band on a mission.

Black Rock Revival performs at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar Ave., with the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and the Incredible Hooks; and on Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at the Peabody Hotel Rooftop Party with FreeSol.

© 2011 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


- Go Memphis


Album Review: Black Rock Revival-Keep It Together
Blog - A Geek and His Blog
Written by Markus Seaberry
Monday, 26 April 2010 10:34 Memphis, TN

Little Richard. Chuck Berry. Ike Turner. Fishbone. Living Colour. African-Americans have always played an influential part in the progression of rock and roll. However, in recent memory, black rockers have been overlooked by the masses in favor of other urban genres such as R&B and hip-hop. What can be done to remind people that “Black Rock” is an equally important genre? It is time for a Black Rock Revival.

Black Rock Revival are, from left to right, Sebastian, Hype, and Blue.

Black Rock Revival is a three-man band consisting of singer/guitarist Sebastian, drummer Hype, and Blue on bass. They have gradually built a following with live shows, their 60 Seconds appearance, and supporting other performers on their 60 seconds spots. With their debut album Keep it Together, they prove that reports of black rock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The opening track, “Sussie Blu”, is an infectious, bluesy ode to a wild woman that has her way with most men. You can hear the desperation in Sebastian’s voice as he pleads on the hook, “Baby I know youse a killer, baby please, don’t kill me”. The title track, “Keep it Together”, is more upbeat, with a perfect union of music and lyrics such as, “Don’t let ‘em make you sweat/Cause you ain’t done yet”.

“Coco” is another standout track where Sebastian sings of “a sexy woman by the name of Coco White”. The music is hard-hitting yet haunting and perfectly complements Sebastian’s hard luck tale of seduction and ruin. “I Need Some Company” is another brilliantly composed song. The melody draws you in and the lyrics are so vivid. You really believe Sebastian when he sings “And outside it’s getting colder/And I believe I’m getting older." This song needs a video ASAP. “Real Men Never Say They’re Wrong” is a track that is so funky that it should be outlawed. The beat dares you not move, and Sebastian makes it near impossible with lyrics like “Yes I’m a son of a gun/My mother had only one/And baby I never run/Cause I carry a big gun”. On this track, the band really lets loose and their rock star swagger is undeniable.

The album ends with two very different songs. The first, "OLM" is the theme song the band composed for this year’s On Location: Memphis film festival. The catchy, fun song that is an interesting contrast to last year’s rap-themed festival anthem. The final track, the appropriately named “Death Race”, is an angry, instrumental track that conjures up images of badass movie heroes and explosive action sequences. If Michael Bay heard this track, he would probably ransom off his family to include it in one of his films.

“Keep it Together” is a collection of 11 solid, rocking tracks that demand your attention. Listeners will probably find it difficult to resist the urge to nod their head and rock out. This is unapologetic, funky, gritty, soulful rock. Regardless of one’s denomination or spiritual beliefs, this is one revival that everyone will want to attend.

Black Rock Revival will be celebrating the release of Keep it Together on May 7 at the Food for the Soul Soundstage Jam Session at the New Daisy Theater. - Live From Memphis


At first glance, the journey of Black Rock Revival frontman Sebastian Banks into the rock-and-roll profession seems an unlikely one.
by J.D. Reager

After all, just over four years ago he was preparing for a career in law enforcement as a new recruit in the Memphis Police Academy and dabbling in hip-hop music ("mostly freestyle, street-corner rap battles, nothing serious," Banks says) on the side. But then his father introduced him to rock.

"He introduced me to stuff like Pink Floyd, Three Dog Night, Hendrix, and Love, and I really got into it," Banks says. "Rock-and-roll has so much freedom, musically and lyrically. It's not as controlled as hip-hop. There are no limits. Rock music is the ultimate freakout."

Banks' first foray into playing rock was lead-singing with a heavy-metal cover band. But he eventually felt the need to write and perform his own material and also grew weary of depending on others to provide the musical component of the band. So he picked up the guitar and started brainstorming a bold musical concept that would eventually become Black Rock Revival.

"Basically, I want to revive rock-and-roll music and give it back to black people," Banks says. "When I was younger, I didn't even know black people ever did play rock music, even though they were the original ones to do it. I want to breathe life back into the idea of a black rock band."

Initially, however, Banks struggled to find the right musicians to carry out his concept, and early incarnations of the band failed to pick up steam or find an audience.

"I wanted to find guys with more of a rock background, but most of the people I knew were gospel musicians, so it was a struggle at first," Banks says. "Don't get me wrong. They were good musicians, but it wasn't the feel I wanted. These were guys who had only played church music, which has different rhythm and timing. It just wasn't right."

He then adds, wearily, "In those early days, we couldn't even get a free show."

There is no avoiding some discussion of race with Black Rock Revival. The unfortunate reality is that pop/rock music has produced very few recent examples of successful black rock bands that weren't thought of on some level as a "novelty" act. (King's X or Living Color, anyone?) Even the underground rock scene in a city with a large black population like Memphis is, let's face it, mostly white. Neither of these points is lost on Banks.

"It's not a black-vs.-white issue to me, necessarily. It's just about music. But it was definitely hard, at first, to find an audience, get gigs, make connections. People didn't know how to respond. I hope eventually the music will take over, because that's all that really matters to me. If anything, I think we've found a way to take advantage of the situation."

After two years of playing with various musicians and refining his sound, Banks finally found the right rhythm section for Black Rock Revival, thus solidifying the direction of the project. Enter bassist Percy Blue and drummer Hype.

Blue is a 20-year veteran of the music industry. Most notably, his band Barefoot Son provided the theme music for NBC's Fear Factor. The dynamic Hype, meanwhile, is a former member of the local punk band 1057 Walker.

According to Banks, things have started to come easier for the band since the pair's arrival.

"I finally found some musicians with the right background, the right sensibilities. Black Rock Revival wasn't truly a band until Percy and Hype joined up. It was more of a solo project with hired guns. They just add so much."

With a suitable rhythm section in place, Black Rock Revival began to think about making a record. About six months ago, the band started tracking in Banks' home studio. The result of those sessions is Keep It Together, the debut CD that the band will release this week.

The record is a challenging listen at times due to its lo-fi, digital recording methods and the use of synthesized, rather than acoustic, drum sounds (a necessity of having to keep the noise down due to neighbors' complaints). But undeniably, Keep It Together shows promise that Banks & Co. have the ability to do something special.

"We looked at professional studios at first but had a hard time getting engineers to take us seriously, so we decided to save our money," Banks says. "Now, I wouldn't want to do it any other way, even if the band really takes off. I got to do things you can't do in a studio and keep my own hours, which was liberating."

Moving forward, Banks says the main goal of the band will be to expand the fan base beyond its hometown, with the ultimate goal of taking the project overseas.

"I think the European audience will appreciate what we do a lot more," Banks says. "Frankly, I'm surprised that people in Memphis seem to like it at all."

blackrockrevival.com

Black Rock Revival CD-release show With the Sheriffs of Nottingham, Grace Askew, Christopher (of Electric Nobody), and Devoted New Da - Memphis Flyer


At first glance, the journey of Black Rock Revival frontman Sebastian Banks into the rock-and-roll profession seems an unlikely one.
by J.D. Reager

After all, just over four years ago he was preparing for a career in law enforcement as a new recruit in the Memphis Police Academy and dabbling in hip-hop music ("mostly freestyle, street-corner rap battles, nothing serious," Banks says) on the side. But then his father introduced him to rock.

"He introduced me to stuff like Pink Floyd, Three Dog Night, Hendrix, and Love, and I really got into it," Banks says. "Rock-and-roll has so much freedom, musically and lyrically. It's not as controlled as hip-hop. There are no limits. Rock music is the ultimate freakout."

Banks' first foray into playing rock was lead-singing with a heavy-metal cover band. But he eventually felt the need to write and perform his own material and also grew weary of depending on others to provide the musical component of the band. So he picked up the guitar and started brainstorming a bold musical concept that would eventually become Black Rock Revival.

"Basically, I want to revive rock-and-roll music and give it back to black people," Banks says. "When I was younger, I didn't even know black people ever did play rock music, even though they were the original ones to do it. I want to breathe life back into the idea of a black rock band."

Initially, however, Banks struggled to find the right musicians to carry out his concept, and early incarnations of the band failed to pick up steam or find an audience.

"I wanted to find guys with more of a rock background, but most of the people I knew were gospel musicians, so it was a struggle at first," Banks says. "Don't get me wrong. They were good musicians, but it wasn't the feel I wanted. These were guys who had only played church music, which has different rhythm and timing. It just wasn't right."

He then adds, wearily, "In those early days, we couldn't even get a free show."

There is no avoiding some discussion of race with Black Rock Revival. The unfortunate reality is that pop/rock music has produced very few recent examples of successful black rock bands that weren't thought of on some level as a "novelty" act. (King's X or Living Color, anyone?) Even the underground rock scene in a city with a large black population like Memphis is, let's face it, mostly white. Neither of these points is lost on Banks.

"It's not a black-vs.-white issue to me, necessarily. It's just about music. But it was definitely hard, at first, to find an audience, get gigs, make connections. People didn't know how to respond. I hope eventually the music will take over, because that's all that really matters to me. If anything, I think we've found a way to take advantage of the situation."

After two years of playing with various musicians and refining his sound, Banks finally found the right rhythm section for Black Rock Revival, thus solidifying the direction of the project. Enter bassist Percy Blue and drummer Hype.

Blue is a 20-year veteran of the music industry. Most notably, his band Barefoot Son provided the theme music for NBC's Fear Factor. The dynamic Hype, meanwhile, is a former member of the local punk band 1057 Walker.

According to Banks, things have started to come easier for the band since the pair's arrival.

"I finally found some musicians with the right background, the right sensibilities. Black Rock Revival wasn't truly a band until Percy and Hype joined up. It was more of a solo project with hired guns. They just add so much."

With a suitable rhythm section in place, Black Rock Revival began to think about making a record. About six months ago, the band started tracking in Banks' home studio. The result of those sessions is Keep It Together, the debut CD that the band will release this week.

The record is a challenging listen at times due to its lo-fi, digital recording methods and the use of synthesized, rather than acoustic, drum sounds (a necessity of having to keep the noise down due to neighbors' complaints). But undeniably, Keep It Together shows promise that Banks & Co. have the ability to do something special.

"We looked at professional studios at first but had a hard time getting engineers to take us seriously, so we decided to save our money," Banks says. "Now, I wouldn't want to do it any other way, even if the band really takes off. I got to do things you can't do in a studio and keep my own hours, which was liberating."

Moving forward, Banks says the main goal of the band will be to expand the fan base beyond its hometown, with the ultimate goal of taking the project overseas.

"I think the European audience will appreciate what we do a lot more," Banks says. "Frankly, I'm surprised that people in Memphis seem to like it at all."

blackrockrevival.com

Black Rock Revival CD-release show With the Sheriffs of Nottingham, Grace Askew, Christopher (of Electric Nobody), and Devoted New Da - Memphis Flyer


By Mark Jordan
Thursday, May 6, 2010

In the early 1950s, African-American artists like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ike Turner and Fats Domino basically invented rock and roll, and into the 1970s, artists such as Sly Stone, Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix were still major figures in the genre. But then, silence. The rare, occasional efforts of groups like Living Colour or Fishbone aside, for the past 30-plus years African-Americans have kept a respectful distance from a music form they were instrumental in creating.

"I think it had a lot to do with the civil rights movement, and it had a lot to do with rebellion," says local singer-guitarist Sebastian Banks. "The civil rights movement was all about rebellion, rebelling against the status quo, and rock and roll was all about rebellion. What happened with our first rebellion? People got shot and killed, and people are still suffering from it. So what are you going to do with the next thing that embodies rebellion? You're going to shy away from it because it comes with a little too much baggage."

Banks, 29, has now picked up that baggage and is carting it proudly in his appropriately named Black Rock Revival band. The group celebrates the release of its new CD, Keep It Together, Friday with a show at the New Daisy Theatre.

A native Memphian, Banks grew up in South Memphis where the musical heroes were more likely to be rappers from around the way like 8Ball & MJG. Banks absorbed some of that, but he was also listening to the music of his dad, a died-in-the-wool rock fan going way back.

"I really got into Chuck Berry and all that '50s music, and as it changed, I kept listening," says Alan Banks, who cites The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who and Procol Harum among his favorites. "I just played it all the time. And if it's on, you hear it. I guess Sebastian just sucked it up."

At Hamilton High School, Banks' musical tastes made him stand out, though things improved a little when he transferred to Central High School.

"Everybody at Hamilton was looking to hardcore rap, and you had a few secret people listening to rock, but they weren't like, 'I've got to listen to this.' I stood out only because I completely disregarded that," Banks says. "I didn't discover Jimi Hendrix until I was 14 or 15 years old, and it was such a wild discovery. I didn't think other black people knew about it because no one in my neighborhood listened to that."

After high school, Banks sang in a succession of bands, including a Metallica cover band. Itching to do original material, four years ago he began learning guitar with an eye toward forming an all-black rock band.

"The idea came two years ago, but it took that long to find the musicians that understood where I was trying to go," Banks says. "You had some who thought it was about race, but it's not. It's about uniqueness. The uniqueness of saying, 'I've go this skin on, so I'm going to play to it.' It's not necessarily anti-white, anti-this. You just don't see this. You don't see black rock bands."

Black Rock Revival debuted last year with a series of memorable gigs, including a CD release at Hattiloo Theater. But by the fall, the original lineup was gone.

"They didn't understand rock and roll. They thought they did, but it showed in the music," Banks says. "They were better musicians than I was because they had two or three instruments under their belt, but by training they were tight, and sometimes you've got be real loose to play rock and roll."

Banks recruited a new rhythm section, drummer Hype and bassist Percy Blue, and late last year recorded Keep It Together in his apartment. The new record has a leaner, airier quality that de-emphasizes the R&B and gospel leanings of the earlier band.

"We've got just as big a sound with just a trio," says Banks. "I feel like now I have an official band. The sound is completely different. It's rock and roll through and through."

Despite his undiluted rock sound, Banks says he has had trouble finding acceptance in the local music community, something he hopes to correct with the show tonight, which teams him with established artists The Sheriffs of Nottingham and Grace Askew in something he calls the "Food For the Soul Sound Stage Jam Session."

"We're going to have all three bands, all three backlines, on stage at the same time, left, right and center," Banks says of the concept, which he hopes to take on tour in the future. "Each band will take one of their favorite cover songs, and all the bands will jam on that song with them. ... And then the band will do their set. And we'll do that in turns throughout the night. It'll be different, more collaborative, more interactive." - Commercial Appeal


By Mark Jordan
Thursday, May 6, 2010

In the early 1950s, African-American artists like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ike Turner and Fats Domino basically invented rock and roll, and into the 1970s, artists such as Sly Stone, Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix were still major figures in the genre. But then, silence. The rare, occasional efforts of groups like Living Colour or Fishbone aside, for the past 30-plus years African-Americans have kept a respectful distance from a music form they were instrumental in creating.

"I think it had a lot to do with the civil rights movement, and it had a lot to do with rebellion," says local singer-guitarist Sebastian Banks. "The civil rights movement was all about rebellion, rebelling against the status quo, and rock and roll was all about rebellion. What happened with our first rebellion? People got shot and killed, and people are still suffering from it. So what are you going to do with the next thing that embodies rebellion? You're going to shy away from it because it comes with a little too much baggage."

Banks, 29, has now picked up that baggage and is carting it proudly in his appropriately named Black Rock Revival band. The group celebrates the release of its new CD, Keep It Together, Friday with a show at the New Daisy Theatre.

A native Memphian, Banks grew up in South Memphis where the musical heroes were more likely to be rappers from around the way like 8Ball & MJG. Banks absorbed some of that, but he was also listening to the music of his dad, a died-in-the-wool rock fan going way back.

"I really got into Chuck Berry and all that '50s music, and as it changed, I kept listening," says Alan Banks, who cites The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who and Procol Harum among his favorites. "I just played it all the time. And if it's on, you hear it. I guess Sebastian just sucked it up."

At Hamilton High School, Banks' musical tastes made him stand out, though things improved a little when he transferred to Central High School.

"Everybody at Hamilton was looking to hardcore rap, and you had a few secret people listening to rock, but they weren't like, 'I've got to listen to this.' I stood out only because I completely disregarded that," Banks says. "I didn't discover Jimi Hendrix until I was 14 or 15 years old, and it was such a wild discovery. I didn't think other black people knew about it because no one in my neighborhood listened to that."

After high school, Banks sang in a succession of bands, including a Metallica cover band. Itching to do original material, four years ago he began learning guitar with an eye toward forming an all-black rock band.

"The idea came two years ago, but it took that long to find the musicians that understood where I was trying to go," Banks says. "You had some who thought it was about race, but it's not. It's about uniqueness. The uniqueness of saying, 'I've go this skin on, so I'm going to play to it.' It's not necessarily anti-white, anti-this. You just don't see this. You don't see black rock bands."

Black Rock Revival debuted last year with a series of memorable gigs, including a CD release at Hattiloo Theater. But by the fall, the original lineup was gone.

"They didn't understand rock and roll. They thought they did, but it showed in the music," Banks says. "They were better musicians than I was because they had two or three instruments under their belt, but by training they were tight, and sometimes you've got be real loose to play rock and roll."

Banks recruited a new rhythm section, drummer Hype and bassist Percy Blue, and late last year recorded Keep It Together in his apartment. The new record has a leaner, airier quality that de-emphasizes the R&B and gospel leanings of the earlier band.

"We've got just as big a sound with just a trio," says Banks. "I feel like now I have an official band. The sound is completely different. It's rock and roll through and through."

Despite his undiluted rock sound, Banks says he has had trouble finding acceptance in the local music community, something he hopes to correct with the show tonight, which teams him with established artists The Sheriffs of Nottingham and Grace Askew in something he calls the "Food For the Soul Sound Stage Jam Session."

"We're going to have all three bands, all three backlines, on stage at the same time, left, right and center," Banks says of the concept, which he hopes to take on tour in the future. "Each band will take one of their favorite cover songs, and all the bands will jam on that song with them. ... And then the band will do their set. And we'll do that in turns throughout the night. It'll be different, more collaborative, more interactive." - Commercial Appeal


Discography

Tracks showcased in this EPK are from the new album "Mission Control" which will release in 2011. BRR's first album "Keep it Together" was released in 2010, where it has found a home on W.R.U.G internet radio and WEVL radio. You may also hear songs from "Mission Control" album currently on 89 radio stations across the U.S, CA, IL, NY, LA.. BRR has a NEW DOC title "Mission Control" is a feature selection for the 2011 Indie Memphis International Film Festival. The documentary follows them as they record their album, and answer questions on the future and past of Black Rock music as it relates to them.

Photos

Bio


Black Rock Revival take the best part of the Memphis groove and combine it with up-tempo, heavy and pure rock music. The group is made up of Sebastian (The Leader), Hype (The Beat Master) and Blue (The Bass Man). Sebastian is the lead singer and plays guitar. He also writes most of the bands songs. Hype is a twenty+ year veteran of the drums and Blue plays bass and sings background vocals. For security reasons, Blue's real name and past can not be revealed. Partially because he won't tell anyone. Black Rock Revival plays hard, funky and loose during their live performances. It's been a long time since there has been rock music that you can move and groove to. We like to call it Rock Soul.