Bully Pulpit isn't exactly sure why Charleston voters would consider them the city's metal band of the year. Though it wasn't really a surprise to them either.
"It's kind of funny," bassist Kelly Burt says. "It didn't quite come as a shock when we learned that we won best metal band. We kind of knew we were going to win best metal band."
But Bully Pulpit doesn't really consider itself to be a metal band — and if you've heard their music, like this year's debut album Goldmine, you'd know that they fall closer in line with Queens of the Stone Age then the thrash of Megadeth or Metallica, the hairiness of Van Halen or Twisted Sister, or the doom and gloom of Burzum or Boris. In fact, Bully Pulpit said they're not even the loudest group to make use of the building where they rehearse, which is occupied by about a dozen other bands. That would be Hooded Eagle, a fellow nominee in the CPMA metal category.
"We beat out Hooded Eagle, who is like the heaviest band I've ever heard in my life," guitarist Rex Stickel says. "Their amps are louder than our whole band is. They shake the ground you stand on." And despite the massive speakers that sit in Bully Pulpit's practice space, they don't really achieve that same effect. Singer Danny Kavanaugh admits he hasn't been deafened in a long time, which means the band has probably turned its volume down in recent years.
As a band, Bully Pulpit isn't even well known for committing particularly metal deeds. Stickel hasn't eaten a baby in weeks, and the last time Kavanaugh burned down a church was a month ago. "You killed that hooker that one time," Kavanaugh points out to Burt. "That was kind of metal, what you did with her skin." Otherwise, they lay pretty low.
"I used to be big into the devil," Kavanaugh adds. "I thought he was cool for a while. I guess that's metal."
So why would the devoted readers of the City Paper pick Bully Pulpit as Charleston's best metal act? The guys do play shows with a lot of different metal bands, like Red Fang and Order of the Owl. Plus they drink a lot, wear black fairly frequently, and shower sporadically. Or maybe people saw that the band was nominated in two different categories — metal band and rock band — and, to be fair to as many Charleston groups of possible, decided to err on the side of metal when it came to Bully Pulpit.
In reality, the band does admit to having metal roots and liking heavier music.
And while you could never compare Bully Pulpit to Slayer on an average day, the same kind of energy and tone could still be there, buried underneath other rock influences. "I listen to mostly Wilson Pickett and James Brown," Kavanaugh says, and he had a lot of fun at the recent Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears soul-funk show at the Pour House. "I think they have more energy than most metal bands, really."
In the end, if it was up to Bully Pulpit, "Worst Led Zeppelin Cover Band of the Year" would be their official designation. So let's just say they're the best metal-influenced garage rock band in Charleston. Unfortunately, that wasn't a category this time around. Maybe some other time.
But Bully Pulpit already has plans for 2013, according to Stickel. "We're joking that next we're going to write a blues album so hopefully we'll win best country band of the year next year."
Since they're pretty freaking metal, we decided to ask the members of Bully Pulpit — bassist Kelly Burt, singer Danny Kavanaugh, and guitarist Rex Stickel — to answer some metal questions. They agreed that this format would be the most metal way to read the metal answers to metal questions.
KB: "The Silver Surfer. He's pretty metal. He's like all metal I think."
DK: "I like Ozzy circa 1977."
RS: "Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) is really my metal hero. I like Glenn Danzig. He's pretty cool. He's cheezy as fuck, but shit was cool when I was 13."
Favorite metal subgenre?
RS: "Gotta go with black metal."
Most metal substance?
KB: "Cobalt, steel, cadmium."
RS: "Wait, no the metal answer is aluminum. Beer cans."
DK: "I like adamantium." [That's the fictional metal that makes up Wolverine's claws.]
Most metal part of Charleston?
DK: "The Ravenel."
KB: "I'd say Hooded Eagle is the answer to everything."
DK: "Throw Wolf Lord in there somewhere too."
Most metal animal?
RS: "Vulture eats the dead. That's pretty metal."
DK: "A fucking buzzard."
RS: "Call it buzzard. That's way more metal."
Most metal drink?
DK: "Bud Light Platinum. With a splash of blood." [He says while drinking a tall boy of Arizona green tea.]