BML is about as abstract and heavy as they come. The mind-bending time signatures, the mind-boggling dexterity, the speed and the sonic crush make BML a display of brutal beauty and extraordinary talent.
Guitarist Brian Mason, drummer Ronnie Lickers, and bassist Toby Bailey are instrumental heavyweights, and all players' players on their respective instruments. Mason's sonic patterns and stratospheric pioneering gives flight to music seemingly too heavy to fly. Bailey, with his fondness for the bass' upper register, wields his instrument more like a guitar than just the go-to source for the bottom end. And Lickers brings the thunder on a basic five-piece kit.
It's some of the best prog rock you'll hear anywhere -- except it ain't prog rock. It's some of the best metal you'll hear -- except it ain't metal. What BML is, is a progressive orchestration of heavy imagery with metal; might and nimble, with hairpin execution. BML is a tap-dancing dump truck.
After dominating the Rochester scene for several years, BML called it quits is 2008. The trio had burned out.
"I don't want to say we ran out of material," says Mason. "But it was getting harder to write new instrumental stuff."
"I think it was because of different ideas on where the band should go," Lickers says. "I was the dreamer, 'Let's go out and play to 80,000 people.' [Mason] didn't wanna shit in a strange hotel."
But the band never really went away, playing reunion shows every now and again and each occupying themselves with side projects (Lickers had Goodbye Ronnie, Mason was in Sulaco and Filo Bedo, and Bailey did time in Sack Cannon). And when they initially 86'd BML, there was no slamming of doors, no "fuck you" exchanges. So it was easy for the band to pick up where it had left off. They weren't calling it a comeback.
"I was," contradicts Lickers.
It was about time to hear from a band that was all about playing with time. BML is worse than Brubeck in this regard.
The music's signature crazy time signatures come from Bailey who, according to Lickers, doesn't realize how crazy they actually are.
"Toby thinks everything is 4/4 even though it's not," he says.
This time around Mason got the BML ball rolling.
"I started writing stuff to move things along," he says. "Which gave it a different sound. So now it's a combination of my stuff, Toby's stuff...even Ron."
"I put it together," Lickers adds. "I'm the arranger."
With input coming from all three directions, the band's fourth and new CD, "That There Dog's a Chicken," still has the classic elements BML is known for: the blessed trinity of loud, fast, and heavy. No doubt about it; this is a BML record.
Lickers thinks it's heavier. Mason agrees.
"It's slightly heavier," Mason says. "The way it's recorded, it sounds bigger. It's definitely BML material, it just sounds like BML 10 years later; slightly more simplistic and slightly more progressive." It mixes well with the older material that had grown a bit stale to the band. The new material has brought new life.
"I do enjoy the old songs," Mason says. "We've just had them for so long."
The band wants to branch out on the road to towns where all the material is new. There are a lot of BML fans that don't know it yet in our fair city, and abroad. But the big fan base is here. It still gives the band pause...and applause.
"It surprises me all the time," Lickers says. "They still come to see us live, which blows my mind. BML never really did too much out of town. Buffalo a little bit, Niagara Falls, Syracuse. We never really tried. I think this time we're going to try some stuff, a couple tiny tours. We're actually going to be business about it, like a real band. The thing is, the older you get, the harder it is to just tour your ass off and be a bum and not worry about paying bills, but you can do it nowadays if you do it right."
Punk-metal icon Wendy O. Williams will be inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame on Sunday. Plasmatics guitarist Wes Beech and Rod Swenson, the band's creator and Williams' life partner, talk about the legacy of the singer.
The band is the pistol-packin' ruler of Western swing and all the genres that lead up to it.