A Band Called Pain (abbreviated ABCP) is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California.
The band was formed by cousins Allen Anthony formerly of the Roc-A-Fella Records R&B group Christion) and Shaun Bivens who both hail from the San Francisco Bay Area. The band’s debut studio album “Broken Dreams” was dubbed one of the Ten best (#6) California albums of the Year by Zero Magazine. The first single from the album is the song “The Pieces”. The song has a music video as well and the band’s song “Holy” appeared on the Saw II Soundtrack.
And then life hit the pause button, but now their back more ferocious than ever, ready to slay the stage again and they gave us the first peek inside, with this exclusive interview to welcome them back in full BAM fashion!!
A Band Called Pain is notable for being a rare heavy metal band consisting of four African American members. Guitarist Bivens alluded to this saying:
We could have easily gone down the hip-hop or R&B route and each of us at one time or another given it a shot. We could be making raps about growing up in the hood and gang violence, but that’s just not who we are. We’re four guys who grew up loving heavy metal, so that’s what we play. For us, it is the song that matters most.
WHATS UP FAMILY?
First, I want to say on behalf of BAM Magazine and all your fans, that we are all happy for your return!
I have to say that you were a real force to be reckoned with, crushing stages and leaving folks wanting more more more, so know that you all have been missed and we are super excited for your return, and to see how you have evolved over the past few years.
Oh and before we get started, I know a lot of folks want me to first SLAP THE HELL OUT OF YOU for ever leaving us, yet we understand how life comes with changes, and are sure they have all been for the best!
Lets start, ROLL CALL!!
BAM: Let the people know who’s on deck and your parts in ABCP?
- ALLEN ANTHONY — VOCALS
- SHAUN BIVENS — GUITAR
- BRYAN DEAN — BASS
- TONY PROVIDENCE — DRUMS
So tell me about it?
What’s been happening with you cats, and what has prompted your return?
BRYAN DEAN — We’ve been wanting to do a reunion show for a while and actually had show’s on the books a couple of times but the events fell through. With the PUNK BLACK Cali fest reaching out, it was the perfect scenario. We’ve all been busy with other musical projects. I’ve done a gang of different things since ABCP last hit the stage. Performing and recording with Angelo Moore and the Madd Vibe Orchestra was a highlight. (You know a lil something about that Keno eh?!!!) My steadiest gig has been with a great indie rock band called Felsen. I’ve also of late been gigging and recording with the punk band, Year of the Fist. Speaking of recording, the drummer from ABCP, Tony Providence and I play together in the Kofy Brown Band and the new album will be out this summer I believe. I’ve also done a gang of freelancing, everything from an Indian jazz hit to making a country record. A good amount of cover band stuff also to pay the bills as it were.
TONY PROVIDENCE — Been busy, very busy doing a lot of session work and playing in a few projects : The Purple ones with Levi Seacer from the NGP, Miles Schon, Kyle Martin from the piano man Broadway musical and the list goes on. We’ve been trying to do this for some time now. But we’ve all bust busy with life and other projects.
SHAUN BIVENS — Well, just been playing with “The Quart of Blood Technique” and running my studio. We just miss each other, and it feels like the right time to do it.
Why did you guys take a pause when things were so HOT!!?
BRYAN — Things just flame out when they do sometimes. Being in a band is challenging and sometimes folks need to make moves for personal reasons. I have the utmost respect for that. I was ready to take over the world though!
TONY — For me, I felt band business should have been handled differently. We weren’t on the same page.
SHAUN — We all just had different things going on at the same time.
How have you all individually been managing without ABCP?
BRYAN — As mentioned, we’ve all been staying busy and having fun with our other projects, but ABCP was the band of my dreams. I miss it! The shows and the laughs. All 3 of those cats slay on stage and are also so damn naturally funny. I was in tears many a day!
TONY — Very well! Playing and travelling a lot. But nothing will ever fill the ABCP void!
SHAUN — Just staying busy with new projects.
Through this next level journey, and coming full circle, what is the most valuable lessons learned?
BRYAN — Communication needs to be of the highest priority always.
SHAUN — Life is short so get it done.
What’s the NEW plan? Is it a secret or could you share a subtle hint of what we can expect?
BRYAN — Nothing planned at all but I’m pretty sure we’re all open to what might transpire once the juices get flowing again. Who knows, lay down new tracks, play more one offs. Hell if I know!
SHAUN — Just this gig for now, but we have some new song idea’s.
Let’s talk a little about Electric Purgatory, The fate of the Black Rocker and how you feel about this topic in our current racial openness society. Do you have some war stories that you had to overcome being an all-black Metal Band?
BRYAN — I could name a few, but this story encapsulates most of them. After one show a white dude comes up to us and says in all seriousness, “We liked you guys, but we didn’t know what to expect when you were setting up. We thought you were gonna rap or something.” Really dude? We roll in with Triple rectifiers, chain link guitar stands, double kick drums, Iron Maiden T-shirts, etc. and we’re a rap group.
Folks were consistently shocked that we were Black cats that rocked out. That shit is so tired.
SHAUN — Well it’s good to see more of us doing it these days, but to your other question the people we thought we’d have a problem with were the ones that showed the most love, go figure!
What advice can you offer to other bands that may be facing the challenge of change within their own group?
BRYAN — I’ll say it again, clear communication is where it’s at. If you’re all not on the same page, progress will be stunted. I would also say that once you reach a certain level, retain good management and get some help with the avenues of the biz that aren’t your specialty. It’s difficult to do everything yourself, and getting help to excel is a good thing I think.
SHAUN — You can’t lose if you stay together.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when you feel the pressure of the music business not necessarily going in the way you all have dreamed?
BRYAN — Good friends who will be there no matter what.
SHAUN — Well GOD is my biggest inspiration, as far as the music business go’s, there ain’t much left.
How did you cats first come together in the first place, and what’s the story around the name A Band Called Pain (ABCP)?
BRYAN — I joined the band a bit later so Shauny B can tell that one.
SHAUN — Yeah, me and Allen were in our first band together at 11 years old and the name comes from how much shit we were dealing with when we started.
If you can go back as a group, and do things over again from scratch, with the knowledge you all carry now, what would you focus on first, second and third?
BRYAN — I don’t have a 1,2,3 but having a team in place to help you succeed at every turn is vital. Running a band is a business. What happens behind the scenes has to be just as tight as what happens on stage. Playing an instrument is a specialty. I feel that having folks that specialize in other aspects of the business (management, booking, etc.) should be in your camp as well. We had some of that in place for sure, but we needed more. It’s difficult to do everything well yourself, and getting help to excel is a good thing.
SHAUN — I’d keep everything the same but just keep going, all the other stuff works itself out.
Where do you all sit with reference to all the conflicts and issues you see happening around the world, and what is the message that you want your fans to take away from your music and shows?
BRYAN — That is an involved, multi-layered question for sure, but I think we all need to take a collective breath, first off. There’s division in our society and clear cut bullshit going down no doubt, but there’s also a lot of hype. As difficult as it may be, leading with love and taking a moment to truly assess would eliminate some drama I think. – As far as show takeaways, the fact that we are four black folks unified and rocking against the grain as it were is a statement in itself. It says that people of color can’t be defined and put into a box. I wish that wasn’t still an issue in 2019 but it still seems to be true.
SHAUN — It breaks my heart to see the way we treat each other. The music and shows are for all of us to have a good time, although we go about it in a different way. Hopefully we will make people feel something and it’s something real good!
TONY — Family/Friends/Bandmates are what’s most important. No one is promised tomorrow! You have to love those who are in your life and have an important piece in your life journey close! Music and money can be the root of all evil.
Pain can be a beautiful thing as in birth or a sorrowful one as in a loss of love. Where does ABCP fit into this spectrum?
BRYAN — We’re just like everyone else, managing pain the best we can.
SHAUN — We all fit right in the center of it, if you’re living, you feel pain.
Without giving it all up, can you tell us what to look out for in this great reactivation of A Band Called Pain, how people can find you, what’s the next gig, and can we look forward to a new album?
SHAUN — Not sure about gigs but new and unreleased music seems to be in order!
BRYAN — I’m just rolling with it one day at a time. No expectations or plans. I’m going to enjoy every moment, leading up to and including the show and we’ll see what’s up after that.
TONY — I can’t tell you that, then I’d have to kill you. Lol
March 30th @ The UPTOWN
1928 Telegraph Ave in Oakland
10 YEARS IN THE MAKING
WOW! You guys are off the chain!!!!
Man, this was a real treat and I believe your old and new fans will be fully thrilled to hear you share your real music wisdom, and more to soon see you crush it again! (The Uptown)
Before we go, we would ask that you fans out there keep Allen and his family in your prayers. He could not sit in, but would like you all to know that he is dedicating this upcoming reunion show to his father Allen Richardson Sr. (RIP). Be sure to send out your good vibrations to him and his family, knowing it is appreciated.
Thank you guys for hanging out with me and sharing the ride. I am definite that you cats are about to do some major damage again, slay the stage right and reaching higher heights more than ever before!! We here at BAM are excited and so looking forward to it, now DO THAT!!
This is Keno Mapp signing out, yet always sending love…