Black Beast Revival: Last Band Standing

According to the boys of Black Beast Revival, the music comes first. Even while maintaining day jobs, the band is willing to do what they must for their craft. Even if it’s on company time. I spoke to guitarist Zach Vanhouten and guitarist/vocalist Erin James while they were working in Checkmate Music’s repair shop.


Born out of Bellingham’s sometimes incestuous music scene and a mutual respect and admiration, Black Beast Revival is less than a year old. Beginning last November, James (of the Whiskey Wailers) was joined by Bill Anker (also of Whiskey Wailers fame) and Vanhouten (of Stillborn Unicorn) to begin jamming through a few song ideas. “I had been living in a van in Portland,” James said. “I wanted to get back to Bellingham and get something going, and the first person I thought of was Zach for lead guitar, and Bill is my drummer, so it seemed natural.”

The sound that came out of those sessions was a very intentional and very sexy brand of dirty rock’n’roll. After several months of playing together, bassist Brice Ervin was added. “We knew of Brice’s presence and his bass prowess for some time,” Vanhouten said. “We invited him to play with us one week before our first show, and it worked.”

“I knew Erin when he was bouncing at the (now defunct) Rogue Hero when my last band was playing there,” Brice said. “He invited me to meet up to jam, where we wrote a song and hung out the whole night. The stars aligned the right way…we never looked back.”

“This is what we all want to do as a career,” Vanhouten said. “I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want to play with.”

The mission of the band is to devote as much time as possible to this project, while delivering searing sets of dark rock’n’roll. “The guys I’m working with now are phenomenally talented, which has really pushed me to become a better musician,” James added. “I feel like we got a good shot with this.” Brice agreed. He describedhis band mates as drama-free and reliable professionals.

Since Brice was added, the band has become a machine fueled by beer and the love and mutual respect the band has for their fans and vice versa. “We try to make each show as epic as possible,” James said. “We like to have a lot of fun with the crowd, it’s all about the music and everything else comes after.”

While they are busy conquering crowds in Bellingham, Seattle, and Wenatchee, they are currently booking two summer tours including a trip to LA and a circle of the northwest.

They have released several tracks on Wenatchee-based label Snatchee and most recently recorded in Bellingham with Sam Top at Mac & Mac Electric. “We’re trying to get a solid EP that captures our live energy to put out there, and eventually a full length,” Vanhouten said.

Black Beast Revival has found a home at The Shakedown, which Vanhouten described as the band’s home-turf. “We played there the first week they were open, we love them and their rock’n’roll attitude,” he said. “And they love us, because all of our fans are alcoholics.”

No two performances are the same with this band. But one thing is for certain: these boys put on one hell of a show. “Expect to be lightly misted with beer, maybe break a glass, with a high energy show,” Vanhouten said. “We exhaust ourselves, love to get the crowd engaged and I like climbing on things.”

“It’s all about the fans and the people that show up,” he added. “You work your job, you want to come have a beer and de-stress, it drives us to get crazier.”