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Combining the thunderous metal assault of Metallica with the peerless melodies of the Beatles, Beatallica are a band of musical humorists from Milwaukee, WI, who have gained an international audience for their guitar-fueled mash-up of two of the world's most popular groups. The Beatallica story begins in 2001, when singer and guitarist Michael Tierney was putting together the lineup for "Spoof Fest," an annual Milwaukee event in which local rockers play mini-sets satirizing well-known musical acts. With the help of fellow guitarist Michael Brandenburg, Tierney worked up a few songs in which they took tunes by the Beatles, played them with the velocity and thrash-metal guitar sound of Metallica, and retooled the lyrics so they would reference both acts at once (for instance, "For No One" became "For Horsemen" and "Taxman" evolved into "Sandman"). The Beatles-Metallica fusion went over big with the audience that night, and Tierney, Brandenburg, bassist Lee Bruso, and drummer Ryan Charles decided to re-create their set in the studio. The foursome recorded a seven-song EP called A Garage Dayz Nite and burned 50 CD copies, giving them away to friends and colleagues to avoid the legal complications that would arise from selling the music; the members also used assumed names for the project, with Tierney becoming Jaymz Lennfield, Brandenburg taking the name Krk Hammettson, Bruso identified as Kliff McBurtney, and Charles calling himself Ringo Larz.
The story might have ended there, but Dave Dixon, the host of an Internet radio show, got hold of a copy of A Garage Dayz Nite and began airing the songs online; Dixon got so many requests for the Beatallica tracks that he created a fan website for them, posting MP3s from the EP, which was unknown to Tierney and his friends until the web page had already received over 100,000 hits. As Beatallica's reputation spread, they released a second EP in 2004, simply called Beatallica (known to some fans as The Grey Album), but a year later the group's joke didn't seem so funny to Sony/ATV Music Publishing, who own the rights to many of the Beatles' songs and filed a cease-and-desist order against Beatallica's webmaster and demanded payment of damages from the band. However, Beatallica found support from an unlikely source -- Lars Ulrich, Metallica's drummer, who had first heard the Beatles-centric parodies of his group when a journalist played some Beatallica tracks for him and singer/guitarist James Hetfield. Ulrich and Hetfield became fans of Beatallica, and Ulrich volunteered the services of Metallica's lawyer to mend fences between Beatallica and Sony/ATV. In the summer of 2007, Beatallica emerged from the underground with their first commercial release, Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band, which introduced a new Beatallica lineup --Michael Brandenburg left the group and Jeff Salzman came aboard as guitarist Grg Hammettson, while bassist Lee Bruso was replaced by Paul Terrien, who adopted the same stage name as his predecessor, Kliff McBurtney. All You Need Is Blood followed in 2008, with Masterful Mystery Tour appearing in 2009. ~ Mark Deming
- Milwaukee, WI
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