Phone interview with Kliff McBurtney of Beatallica
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
March 25th 2010, Los Angeles CA
Andrew: What's going on with the band these days?
Kliff: Well, in a couple of weeks we've got an East Coast tour coming up. We're hitting all the big cites, Philly, New York about four or five times, DC, getting out to West Virginia, Kentucky and all that good stuff, every place where its wet and rainy right now! Hopefully it'll all go away by the time we get there.
Andrew: Your latest EP came out in November. Are you planning to release any new songs any time soon?
Kliff: Well the full album CD came out last August. And nope, we're still trying to sell that one! We just had a video come out on youtube for 'Fuel On The Hill'. It came out a couple of weeks ago. Regarding the new stuff, there's nothing we can share with the press right now because we have to go through all these legal clearances before we're even allowed to announce anything.
Andrew: How exactly do you go about making a mash-up song?
Kliff: Well, it starts with a couple of beers and trying to get into a good mood. Then, it really comes from different angles. Sometimes it can come from a title, like you're looking at two titles. Lets say 'Hero Of The Day Tripper', for which obviously the titles 'Hero Of The Day' and 'Day Tripper' matched together. So we worked on it from there. Other times, like 'Fuel On The Hill' came from the riff and the words behind it seemed to match the guitar riff pretty well. So things spiral out like that. And sometimes it just kind of happens, kind of a fluke. I can't say that there's any one definite way that we're going to sit down and do it. I think that adds to the spontaneity of it and also it keeps it sounding fresh as opposed to well ok now we're going to do this and do that. That's all too scripted.
Andrew: When you met the Metallica guys [on April 1st 2009], what was the conversation like?
Kliff: We had just seen them in Paris on our off date. They gave us tickets to go check out their show in Paris, and after that we went into the bowels of the theatre and found the guys. I'd say the weirdest thing was, they were asking us what was on our next album. It wasn't like, 'Hey Metallica, what's going on with Death Magnetic?' They were asking what's happening with the Masterful Mystery tour. They wanted to know all the details. They were our fans instead of the other way round.
Andrew: The band had some legal trouble a few years back with Sony, who held the rights for the Beatles catalog. An agreement was reached, but did you have to make any compromise in the music and the artwork at all?
Kliff: Not with the songs we've released. Saying that, there are certain titles that are owned by certain individuals that we get rejected on. We have to submit what we want to do, then its got to go through a clearance process. Then it's either cleared to use, all well and good, or we can't use it. So there are several titles that we aren't allowed to do, through the arrangement of our publisher. But through Sony we've worked out a great arrangement with Sony/EMI where we can do most of the Beatles songs they own on the catalog. We have a great working relationship with them so it is not that big of a deal. The problem comes in because the Beatles catalog is not just owned by one entity, its owned by many people. So we have to go through all those different people to get it done.
Andrew: So it is quite a different process for you guys and not just 'record and release'.
Kliff: I wish it was 'record and release'! That would have been like the good ol' days. Then of course if you're in that situation you get to keep all the royalties too whereas we've come to an arrangement where we share royalties with these people.
Andrew: Have you thought about filming one of your shows and releasing it on DVD?
Kliff: Yeah we've always had video gear, whether it be a small little handycam or we have many friends who are videographers. It seems like videographers are always drawn to us for some reason. So there's a lot of footage in the can as they say, but also if you go to Youtube, you've got people who hold them their cellphones during our concerts and film several songs. So for those who can't get to the show, that would be the first place, looking at the online videos. I bet you can piece together a whole show just from that. Mind you, the sound quality is kind of crappy on Youtube. But its also like where else am I going to see them. At least it gives a little flavour.
Andrew: You've played shows all over the world but the only upcoming shows I see are on the US east coast. When are you planning on doing a proper tour again?
Kliff: Proper? (laughs) I don't know if we've ever had a proper tour. But we do little jabs into various parts. The problem with touring America is it's so damn big. Financially it's impossible to get from one coast to the next because we're in the middle. We focus a lot on the East Coast and the Mid-West. I'm hoping to get out on to the West Coast proper, go up and down California, get up to Seattle, Vancouver and all that. So that's coming up some day. There's talk in the works for another European tour coming up at the end of the year in October or something like that. But nothing is firm enough yet. We would love to come out to the West Coast at least. The weather is so much nicer. I'm sitting at home here where the temperature is 30 degrees. So unless you're going to send it over, don't tell me what its like over at your place! (laughs)
Andrew: Is there any possibility at all of Beatallica opening for Metallica?
Check out the band's official website!
Kliff: Well, I know we'd be all for it. I don't know how Metallica feels about it. But you know, the way the music industry works you just don't put up a show like that. I think the only way it could happen is for us to be invited by Metallica. Otherwise the opening band would have to pay on the tours. So there's good money involved from other people opening for Metallica. If anything, I would like to just do a private gig for Metallica to tell you the truth. That would be really cool. But as far as like a stadium tour with Beatallica opening for Metallica, you'd have to talk to Metallica about that! But you never know, that's the name of the game.