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Bloodshot Victory

Rick Coates - April 14th, 2008
In ancient times when one was victorious over their enemy, they took a
“bloodshot” (the ritual of drinking a shot of blood to take in what was
“good” from within their enemy) to celebrate. Northern Michigan rockers
Bloodshot Victory are all about being victorious and celebrating the good
things in life. Their message is resonating, not just locally but across
the world.
“Our band is rooted in the positive. There is so much negative out there
-- so many haters, but we are positive people,” said Zeke (band members go
by first or nicknames only), lead vocalist and guitarist. “There is too
much drama in this world, too much bringing people down, and we don’t want
to be a part of that scene. We want to be successful in our pursuits and
we want the same for others.”
This Saturday (April 19) Bloodshot Victory will take to the Kenny Olson
Music Stage at Union Street Station. This genre-busting band rocks out a
jazzy, bluesy, funky sound spiced up with a little reggae, fusion and at
times in-your-face good old straight-up ass-kickin’ rock and roll.
Bloodshot Victory formed last May and performed publicly first at Kamp
Omelette (the annual weekend campout hosted by the WKLT morning show team
of Omelette & Finster). The morning show loudmouths have crowned Bloodshot
Victory “Northern Michigan’s Best Party Band.”

The band’s fans -- and they have a lot of them all over -- agree. With
fading CD sales, traditional industry indicators like the Billboard charts
are starting to be replaced by new barometers, in particular MySpace.
Originally created as a network for musicians, MySpace has for many become
the place to get connected with the world’s music scene.
With over 120 million users, MySpace has become an important tool for
musicians to market themselves, and Bloodshot Victory has found their way
into the top 10 of several charts. To date, in less than 10 months, the
band has had over a million “listens” to the songs they have on their
“It blows us away when we look at it and see that our songs have been
played a million times,” said Steve, the band’s drummer. “It is a tribute
to our girlfriends, wives, friends and family who have helped us get the
word out.”
Boston Brian (who moved here from the east coast so his wife could attend
the nursing program in Traverse City) is amazed when he looks and sees
Bloodshot Victory up there with industry legends.
“One day we were ahead of Eric Clapton. In jazz, Bob James was number one
on the charts and we were number two,” said Boston Brian. “Then you click
over to the international blues charts and we are in the top 10. On the
Michigan charts we are in the top 10 in several categories.” (At press
time Bloodshot Victory was number seven on both the international blues
and jazz charts for unsigned bands and number 10 on the rock charts for
unsigned bands.)

While MySpace is connecting the band to a world of fans, their
entertaining live show is packing clubs in Northern Michigan. Tim Miller
of the Great Lakes Guitar Company and a long-time local music scenester,
sees Bloodshot Victory’s quick rise in popularity from two perspectives.
“There is a ton of talent on stage and then you throw in the originality
and spontaneity and there is real energy at their shows,” said Miller.
“Bloodshot Victory puts off such a positive vibe that if you are having a
bad day, these guys can turn things around for you.”
Those words encapsulate what the band has established as their mission.
“All of our material is original with the exception of four covers,” said
Zeke. “Our songs are about life, about the lives we live, the things we
and others experience. Our music is a celebration. We all contribute ideas
and for now, I am the primary lyric writer, so a lot of the content is
based on my growing up in Flint and my experiences while in college at
CMU. Our music from a lyrical standpoint is not for kids, not the
language, but things are definitely adult themed.”
The band lets loose when they take the stage with a literal free-for-all
impromptu jam session. It is evident that the guys are having fun on stage
and it connects with fans who pack the dance floor.
“We are an improv band,” said Zeke. “I never play a song the same way
twice. I roll with my feelings when I am on stage so if I am jacked up, I
rock out, if I am feeling sad I may slow a song down and blues it up. We
just make eye contact with each other and we know the vibe.”
That onstage vibe happened the first time the band in its current line-up
played together.
“I joined the band right after the Kamp Omelette show. I was working with
Zeke and he came into Marshall Music on Monday and mentioned to me that
his band was looking for a drummer. I told him that I was a drummer,” said
Steve. “He said: ‘Good we’ve got a gig this weekend.’ I rehearsed one
night just with Zeke and showed up to the gig, walked on stage and shook
hands with Boston Brian who I had never met, and we started playing. The
connection of the four of us was felt immediately.”
The band’s fourth member is Robbie Fire, a guitarist who grew up in a
musical family (his father is a prominent music instructor at Interlochen)
and brings his worldly travels and jazz chops to the stage.
The band members are multi-instrumentalists and feel that helps in
connecting on stage.
“Boston Brian is the third guitarist that I have converted to a bass
player. Steve plays a bunch of different instruments,” said Zeke. “We all
have been in a bunch of bands and collectively we agree this is the most
talented group any of us have ever been in.”

At 34, Boston Brian is the group’s senior member (Steve is 21, Zeke is 27
and Robbie Fire is 23). He has been playing in bar bands since he was 14
and sees two key ingredients that are leading to Bloodshot Victory’s
“This band doesn’t have a princess. We all wear pants. We all see each
other as equals,” said Boston Brian. “Plus, we like each other, we have
become best friends and we hang out together as friends.”
While the band doesn’t have a “princess,” they have some stage signatures
that fans have come to expect.
“Zeke is a very humble guy but on stage he lets loose. He is bringing back
the guitar solo,” said Steve. “The way he plays the guitar behind his back
and plays the guitar with his mouth is mesmerizing.”
While Robbie Fire grew up in Northern Michigan, Zeke and Steve came from
the same neighborhood in Flint.
“It is weird,” said Steve. “I went to Zeke’s home in Flint this Christmas
and I grew up a block away. You could actually see my old home from his
mom’s house. We never knew each other growing up.”
The band originally formed out of open mic nights in the area. The
original drummer had a connection to WKLT, giving Bloodshot an in at Kamp
Omelette. Steve joined as a result of working with Zeke. While his first
show with the band was interesting, since he had not rehearsed with them,
it was the second show that was most memorable.
“After that Little Bo’s gig I was told we were going on the road,” said
Steve. “I was told next weekend we are heading near Jackson to a nudist
camp. Not only were all the people at the show going to be naked but we
were going to play naked. Of course being in a band that is improv, I have
to watch the guys to know what is going to happen next, so from the drum
seat it was an interesting perspective.”

Bloodshot Victory was a hit at the nudist camp and they will be heading
back this summer. A summer that is shaping up to be very busy, that
includes several gigs and the release of their first CD.
“Our CD is basically finished and should be out in a few weeks. We hope to
have a CD release party at Union Street in May,” said Zeke.
Steve jumps in.
“If you want our music for free, you better go to our MySpace and download
tunes now,” laughs Steve. “After the CD comes out, the free downloads
Bloodshot Victory, while billed as a party band, is all about business.
“We are treating this as a family business. We all have jobs outside of
what we do onstage to market and manage the band,” said Zeke. “This is not
a hobby for us. Sure, we all have day jobs but we want this to be our day
Part of the business plan has included corporate sponsors. For example and Traverse Brewing Company are two of their sponsors.
“I wrote a lot of these songs with my college buddy Boomer. Well, college
wasn’t for him so he took a job with Frank Beck Chevy in Hillsdale and in
a year became their number two salesman,” said Zeke. “So the dealership
has been underwriting some of our travel, merchandise and the CD project.
Plus, every great band needs a great brewery behind them and we have
Traverse Brewing Company. Then throw in that Omelette and Finster have
adopted us and things are good.”
Yes, things are looking good for Bloodshot Victory. Next week a major
record industry executive is flying in from Europe to meet with them, but
the guys are taking it in stride.
“We have not really pursued a major label deal because we feel we can do
everything we need ourselves,” said Steve. “We will listen to what they
have to say, but they will have to deliver a lot for us to change course.”

Bloodshot Victory will play Saturday, April 19 at Union Street Station. As
the band continues to grow in popularity, local shows will become fewer,
so catch them while you can. Also take advantage of the free downloads at, and songs to check out include “Girl In The
Shower,” “Just Another Day,” “Confused Hate,” and “Backporch Blues.”

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