BPMD — the new heavy metal juggernaut featuring vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (OVERKILL), drummer Mike Portnoy (THE WINERY DOGS, SONS OF APOLLO), bassist Mark Menghi (METAL ALLEGIANCE) and guitarist Phil Demmel (VIO-LENCE, ex-MACHINE HEAD) — released its debut full album of ’70s rock covers, “American Made”, in June via Napalm Records. Since the members of BPMD consider the late Eddie Van Halen to be one of their biggest musical influences, an impassioned cover of VAN HALEN‘s “D.O.A.” was included on the effort. With the recent news of Eddie Van Halen‘s passing, the band has come together to honor the guitar icon with a heartwarming video of their favorite EVH images, featuring their tribute cover. The video can be viewed below.
In a joint statement of tribute, BPMD offers: “The world lost an icon, innovator, showman, virtuoso, master songwriter and perhaps one of the biggest inspirations ever to learn how to play guitar. This video is meant to be a tribute to Ed, nothing more, and we hope you enjoy. We will always have Eddie in our hearts.”
It’s evident within the initial seconds of BPMD‘s “American Made”, as Blitz chants the introductory lyrics to Ted Nugent‘s “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” in his signature skyscraper-high howl, that he and his equally iconic bandmates are here to have a damn good time. Featuring 10 unforgettable rock classics reimagined as heavy bangers, “American Made” is a party on wax. Tracks such as the raucous “Toys In The Attic” and rager-ready “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” (ZZ TOP) prove that BPMD not only manages to capture the essence of each original track on the album, but skillfully transforms each classic into an unforgettable metallic anthem for a new age. The seasoned quartet flex their musical muscles on renowned classics such as “Saturday Night Special” (LYNYRD SKYNYRD), “We’re An American Band” (GRAND FUNK RAILROAD) and “Walk Away” (JAMES GANG), and introduce a whole new heavy generation to deeper cuts like “Evil” and “Never In My Life” (MOUNTAIN). Channeling nostalgia while maintaining a fresh attitude, “American Made” is a summer soundtrack for all ages.
Menghi remarked on BPMD‘s origins: “[In the] summer [of 2019], right after the Fourth of July, I was sitting in my backyard. I was listening to a bunch of ’70s stuff and LYNYRD SKYNYRD‘s ‘Saturday Night Special’ came on. I said, ‘Man, I would love to play that song,’ and my eight-year-old son turned to me and said, ‘You should do a record of all these songs, Dad.’ And I was like, ‘Hmmm? Yeah, why not!?!'”
After connecting over their mutual love for the classics and forming their current line-up, the members of BPMD traveled to Portnoy‘s home studio in Pennsylvania and set up shop. Since the whole concept of the band was born the night Menghi was listening to “Saturday Night Special”, BPMD were determined to record the song for the album. Beyond that, each musician picked two ’70s rock tracks and everyone had to learn them!
Menghi chose “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” in addition to “Saturday Night Special”. Blitz‘s choices were a little more obscure — “Never In My Life” replete with cowbell and a blazing repeated blues lick, and CACTUS‘s version of “Evil”, a fiercely ZEPPELIN-like take on an old Willie Dixon song. For his tracks, Demmel picked “D.O.A.” and had a blast channeling his inner Eddie Van Halen, and took a deep dive with “Tattoo Vampire”. Recalling the days when Ted Nugent was more of a bad boy than a gunslinger, Portnoy picked “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”, in additon to “Toys In The Attic”.
Menghi, who also co-produced “American Made”, added: “We didn’t go into it trying to make everything metal, we just wanted to play the way we play and this is what you get… we’ve all been influenced by a wide variety of bands including BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and METALLICA. So, of course, we’re going to attack the songs a little harder than guys that didn’t grow up on heavy music.”
Blitz stated: “We made sure we did high-quality versions of these songs and gave them all a little twist. I think there’s a place for that in the music world today. There’s something really great about nostalgia, especially if it’s reimagined.”
“American Made” was mixed and mastered by Mark Lewis, also known for his work with METAL ALLEGIANCE (featuring Menghi and Portnoy), as well as artists such as DEVILDRIVER, TRIVIUM, and many others.