million / billion

million / billion

BandRockWorld

The members of L.A. trio million / billion readily admit that their music is eclectic. Their sound combines punk-folk intensity, classic-rock hooks, pop jangle, Western twang, jazz-tinged filigrees and soul grooves with ease.

Biography

The members of L.A. trio million / billion readily admit that their music is eclectic. Their sound – as evidenced by their debut album, Ready. Fire. Aim. (Mercy Records/Fontana) – combines punk-folk intensity, classic-rock hooks, pop jangle, Western twang, jazz-tinged filigrees and soul grooves with ease. According to singer-songwriter/guitarist Gavin Bellour, however, the threesome’s infectious blend sits firmly at the roots of modern music.

“The original idea behind rock was the spirit of blending good songs that communicate to people with whatever was around – blues, jazz, country, Latin music,” the effusive frontman declares. “We do the same thing, but we have another 50 years of music to draw on. Blending styles with energy is what rock and roll is all about.”

Whether merging scruffy pop with stately, Motown-inflected horns (“All the Times,” “Milk & Honey”), juicing an evocative new-wave melody with a sophisticated groove and riff-heavy coda (“Inhuman”) or shifting effortlessly between jazzy rockabilly and fire-breathing punk (“Apocalypse Now”), million / billion distill a stunning array of influences into a signature style – with energy aplenty.

The band’s unique formula has already made them a BMI Pick of the Month (11/05); earned them opening spots for international music icon Beck and such acclaimed artists as Ray Lamontagne, Shooter Jennings, Keaton Simons and others; garnered offers to share stages with Ben Lee, Supergrass and Joan Osborne; won them a prestigious month-long residency at L.A.’s Hotel Café; and elicited a four-star review from URB Magazine (1/06). Their inimitable songs have been heard on L.A.’s groundbreaking Indie 103.1, KCRW’s Broadband program, KTLA Morning News and Continental Airlines’ in-flight channel.

Bellour, bassist-keyboardist-harmonica player Yonatan and drummer Brian Ulrich find the trio format allows them to stand apart from the unrelenting barrage offered by most bands.
Yonatan’s upright bass and Ulrich’s agile drumming leave the material plenty of room to breathe.

But the musical context, Bellour points out, always serves a storytelling purpose. “We’re always really interested in the song – taking different stories people can relate to and then wrapping them in different clothes,” he muses.

Even when their own clothes don’t look anything like the audience’s, million / billion rarely has trouble winning over a crowd. “We played a show for a local radio station, and every other band was a screamo or hardcore band,” Bellour recalls. “Everyone was done up with the makeup and chains and tight pants. And our response was, ‘To hell with it, let’s play.’ Because there’s nothing more punk rock than getting up on stage at a show like that and playing music that’s not punk rock. We were backstage after our set and all these kids kept coming up to saying ‘You guys are amazing! We loved you!’ We want to make pop music interesting and exciting again. Give it a sense of legitimacy that’s been missing for a while. There’s no reason anybody should be afraid to sing along and feel good.”

Bellour became enthralled at an early age by the stylistic versatility and genuineness of Led Zeppelin , as well as with the buoyant backbeats and uplifting character of his parent’s many Motown records. Growing up in Seattle, he was also exposed to the raw energy of the local scene. While attending UCLA – during which time he formed what he describes as a “nine-piece Latin acid-jazz band” – he plunged into everything from Pavement and Ani DiFranco to John Coltrane and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. After singing his way across the sidewalks of Eastern Europe, Bellour landed back in California and made his initial foray into the L.A. music scene as a solo act, but he decided he wanted to play with musicians who’d challenge him.

Yonatan had started on guitar as an adolescent but quickly switched to bass. He describes himself as having been “heavily into the grunge scene” and classic rock before falling in love with jazz. Signing up for the school orchestra, he honed his chops as a jazz player and eventually attended USC. He released an ambitious solo record and studied recording technology at the Bay Area’s forward-looking Ex’Pression Center for New Media.

Eventually he landed at the famed Radio Recorders studio, setting up shop as a producer, engineer and musician where Elvis Presley’s movie soundtracks, “Peter Gunn,” “White Christmas” and other iconic records had been tracked. Radio Recorders would become, in Yonatan’s words, the “launch pad for our record. I ended up parting ways with the place, but I now believe that everything that happened was intended to lead me to Gavin and Brian.”

New Jersey-born Ulrich, who imbibed classic rock and pop from his father and brother, began playing in bands at age 14. Though steeped in his teens in the punk and hardcore of bands like Bad Brains and Biohazard, he later discovered dance subgenres like trance

Discography

"Ready. Fire. Aim." - Full length debut LP on Mercy Records.
Currently digitally released, available on iTunes, etc.
In stores Jan 30th 2007.
Distributed by Fontana Dist.

Single "Reciprocation" steaming and radio play.

Set List

40- 45 mins.

Ripe
Inhuman
Pompeii
Deadman
All the Times
Limbo
Reciprocation
So Sez I
Apocalypse Now

Encore:
New Friend or Moped

Sometimes Heart Attack, Milk & Honey and Iceberg are interchanged into the set depending on our mood, the crowd and set time