I’ve met the members of The Demon Beat individually, and they’re nice, low-key guys. The girls can take them home to mama. So when I spin my thumb around the iPod dial and select the band’s latest release—an eponymously titled EP—I can’t account for the rumbling tractor-trailer of rock that comes out of my earphones.
From deep in the basement studio of Big Bullet Records comes a swampy, stomping swagger of sound that belies the humble resources guitarist Adam Meisterhans, bassist Tucker Riggleman, and drummer Jordan Hudkins are working with. BBR’s DIY ethic has crafted a half-hour of thunderous sound that some bands, decades into their career, need million-dollar producers to cook up. The Demon Beat’s roots grow wild, jamming an entanglement of pop and blues messy on the surface but secretly effortless and precise. Live or recorded, the band’s Who- and Hendrix-influenced sound sets them apart as fine purveyors of quality rock & roll.
The EP’s highest of points is “Bad Man”, a wailing, bluesy meandering that showcases the band’s interplay perfectly. Alternately wallowing and relishing in his discontent, vocalist Meisterhans trades off meaty riffs with Hudkins and Riggleman. The band chugs along, letting the music do the talking when the song’s scant lyrics are exhausted. “Bad Man” is a radio staple in the making.
The Demon Beat recently returned from a whirlwind tour of West Virginia cities—kind of a long weekend, says Meisterhans—which has undoubtedly bolstered their reputation as one of the Mountain State’s great bands to keep an eye on. Building on their fanbase in the Eastern Panhandle and nearby Baltimore and DC, the band is poised to shoulder its way into a pantheon of 21st Century rock demigods, provided the members’ many awesome side projects don’t steal their focus from the high-voltage rock they’re working with right now.