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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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In Music

Beatallica upends two legendary rock bands


Michael Tierney didn't realize how many fans his band had until "The Grey Album" was released via the Internet last April Fool's Day.

"We had to shut (our Web site) down and get a bigger server (because there was so much traffic)," he recalls, "Then we had to shut it down again ... It was really quite astonishing."

What is even more astonishing is that The Beatles or Metallica aren't trying to prevent the distribution of "The Grey Album" on the site, which clocked over 100,000 visits in the 30 days following the April 1 album posting. Wait a sec ... what does Metallica have to do with the infamous album that combines Jay-Z's "The Black Album" and the Fab Four's "The White Album?"

Tierney's musical alter ego is Jaymz Lennfield, the lead singer of the group Beatallica. The group's latest release, which is self-titled but in certain musical circles has began to share the name of the controversial remix album by DJ Danger Mouse, doesn't combine "Glass Onion" with "99 Problems." Instead, it offers what Tierney calls, "One part Beatles, one part Metallica and one part us" under the brilliant guise of such songs as "Leper Madonna," "Hey Dude," and "I Wanna Choke Your Band."

Tierney explains, "It's not a cover band or a tribute band. We are infusing our own ideas into the music."

Beatallica's Cavern Club was actually the 2001 Spoof Fest, an annual local charity event that Tierney arranges. On the way to a rehearsal for the show, Tierney's Kirk Hammett, known cleverly as Krk Hammettson, heard the Beatles' "For No One" and heard it as Metallica's "Four Horsemen."

Excited by the possibilities, Hammettson suggested to Tierney that they give The Beatles' classic some metal punch and satirized it as "For Horsemen." ("The day breaks/your mind aches/your girlfriend takes you to/A lame-ass poser Winger concert") The tune inspired a songwriting frenzy that resulted in "A Garage Dayz Night," an EP distributed at the show and then promptly forgotten.

David Dixon, an Internet radio host, got a hold of that rare and infamous EP and created a Web site around the band and named the nameless musical send-up Beatallica. Once word spread, Dixon contacted the group and informed them of the popularity of the music and the site. Tierney knew then that this needed some attention.

Tierney has labeled Beatallica an Internet band because its early popularity grew on the Information Superhighway and you never have to give it your money because the music is distributed for free on the Web. He sees the band as being on the forefront of the future of music distribution.

"There's this fight between technology and the music industry and who is going to catch up to whom or who is going to downgrade down to what. We think the Internet is the way to go and we want to be a part of that."

Beatallica's live show is something to behold, too, combing the best of pop and metal, with long hair and Sgt. Pepper-esque jackets. Eventually the group would like to incorporate "Yellow Submarine" with a "Master of Puppets" touch.

But unlike the New York DJ who turned the Beatles on to rap, Beatallica has nothing to fear from two of music's best bands and even better lawyers. Several members of Metallica have praised Beatallica's efforts in the press and Tierney figures Paul and Ringo have good senses of humor.

When asked if Tierney's name could be used in the article for fear of legal scrutiny, he replied, "We held off at first because we didn't know where we stood legally and we've been learning the differences between copywriting, licensing, publishing and what you can do and can't do. We've determined that we've done nothing illegal. We've had legal counsel on it. That's why it took so long to get the project going."

Whether there will be some justice for all, it's hard to say. But as the band members come together, they look forward to taking Beatallica to the next level.

Beatallica plays at Vnuks on Saturday, Aug. 28. The band's Web site is beatallica.org.

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