Inquiring Minds

The Gospel According to Scott H. Biram: Nothin' But Blood

The last time Rocks Off really caught up with Scott H. Biram, Austin's "Dirty Old One Man Band" helped us with our continuing mission to teach appropriate concert behavior to Houston audiences. We figured he was a good guy to ask because at the time (June 2011), he had just gone off on a fan via Facebook for being loud during a recent Memphis show, saying "if you don't like getting told to shut up at my shows...don't stand in front of the stage during quiet songs and talk about how often you wash your hair."

That's still good advice. Biram's extended list of behavior to avoid also included "throw beer or anything at me or my equipment," "clap along with no rhythm" and "steal merch and spill shit on the merch table." These days the 39-year-old singer-songwriter (who turns 40 next month) has a deep enough catalog that he's not quite sure what kind of crowd he'll see from night to night, he admits.

"I have a pretty eclectic fan base," Biram says. " time it will be more of a listening-type [audience], people who are there to actually listen, or it will be like Seattle the other night, [which] bordered on a mosh pit the whole time. I didn't know you could mosh to country music until I started playing."

Either way, though, his fan base keeps growing. On the current tour that brings him to the Continental Club on Thursday, Biram says he's been playing to crowds of 450 or 500 each night, most of whom don't cause any trouble.

"There's only like one or two people getting kicked out a night, so that's pretty good," he says.

Biram's fourth album for Bloodshot Records, Nothin' But Blood, features him either about to be submerged in a river of blood or just coming up from immersion. The baptismal imagery is unmistakable, as is the implication of violence, but Biram says he tries not to take his own music too seriously.

"Like I've been saying on a lot of these interviews, I don't really think that deeply about this stuff except for when I'm getting interviewed," he chuckles. "I actually wind up learning more about it from doing interviews than what I put into it on my own."

Appropriately, many of Biram's songs, as well as his stage patter if he's on a roll, owe a serious debt to revival-style preaching -- real Pentacostal, Bible-thumping, speaking-in-tongues, snake-handling stuff. Although he says he doesn't follow any particular creed, Biram has become a master of creating his own kind of quasi-religious experience.

"I don't consider myself a Christian necessarily as much as I am a spiritual person," he says. "I don't really follow any organized religious rules or anything. But I do like the rejoicefulness that comes along with gospel music, like when you get the whole crowd chanting the words along with you.

"I'm not trying to brainwash anybody, because I'm pretty much against that kind of shit," continues Biram. "But I like the good feeling that comes out of it."

Story continues on the next page.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray