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Scott H. Biram: Life Behind The Curtain

Nate Burrell

Singer-songwriter Scott H. Biram has toured both inside and outside the United States, made critically acclaimed albums and has been nominated for a number of awards.

With a new album out and a string of successful concerts behind him this spring, Biram is still largely absent from one venue: the FM dial.

Scott H. Biram’s first album in three years, The Bad Testament, offers listeners the variety they’ve come to expect from the Texas-based singer-songwriter.

“On this one, I was doing kind of a throwback to my original Bloodshot release, Dirty One Man Band, which was pretty dirty and gritty, rough sounding. Lo-fi,” he says. “I also put drums and bass on this one. I’ve never done that before, so I was just trying to make it sound a little more thick.”

Whatever genre they land in, Biram’s songs are known for their strong emotional content, whether anger, happiness or sadness. All of those are well-represented on The Bad Testament.

“I always like to keep my songwriting in pretty broad strokes,” he says. “I like people to take their own meanings out of it. I’m not scared to talk about any particular thing in my life.”

Biram is considered one of the leading figures in the contemporary one-man band genre. He’s often as surprised at his success as anyone else, given the rocky road he had at the start.

“I was doing a solo acoustic thing back in the mid-90s. It was pretty nerve-wracking,” he says. “I’d have to drink like four martinis before I went on. I’d fall off my chair and get tangled up in my cables.”

Traveling as a one-man band has also given Biram a chance to communicate directly with his fan base, one of the things he cherishes most about being on tour.

“I don’t generally hide out in the green room and not talk to anybody. I like to watch the music and chat with people,” he says, “before and after the shows. I think people can really appreciate somebody being down to earth and not just hiding out. Plus, if I’m out on the road by myself, the green room is usually pretty boring. It’s usually a room with a chair, a refrigerator and a mirror, and it’s me sitting in the corner, looking at the mirror, saying, ‘What are you doing with your life?’”

The success he’s experienced as a critical and fan favorite has given the songwriter a sense of accomplishment, even if, he says, it’s all a little difficult to believe.

“There are times where it dawns on me occasionally that I’m walking around behind some curtains backstage before I go on and I say, ‘Wow, this is like when I was a little kid in the school play behind the curtains.’ I never really thought in my life that that’s where I’d end up, walking behind the curtains backstage for a living,” he says.

For all the traveling that Biram has done both in the United States and abroad, there’s one territory he hasn’t been able to break into as widely as he’d like: radio.

“I don’t get as much radio play as some people I know, and I think that’s probably because I screw myself over by putting 'the F word' at the end of every song, pretty much,” he says. “Sometimes I’ve got to play live on the radio, or in front of a bunch of kids, and I kind of have to censor it. I come up with some pretty interesting ways of censoring words. Then, when the label wants me to go back and do a censored version of the song where I either beep out I come up with some pretty good stuff. Instead, I’ll [do heavy breathing], I put a gunshot in the middle of a song not too long ago to cover up something.”

Scott H. Biram performs at The Elbow Room Sunday, May 7. His new album, The Bad Testament, is out now.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

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