If you poured whiskey, the blues, punk rock and outlaw country into a blender, turned it on “liquefy," then strained the concoction through a ratty old amp, you might wind up with a potent drink called Scott H. Biram.
When The Bulletin spoke to Biram, he replied “I'm hungover" when asked how he was doing on a Monday afternoon at 2 p.m.
We liked him immediately.
His official Bloodshot Records bio sums him up thusly (English majors, avert your sensitive eyes starting now): “Biram ain't no dour ass singer/songwriter either, sweetly strumming songs about girls with big eyes and dusty highways. HELL NO!!! His singing, yodeling, growling, leering and brash preachin' and hollerin' is accompanied by sloppy riffs and licks and pounding backbeat brought forth by his amplified left foot. The remainder of this one-man band consists of an unwieldy combination of beat-up amplifiers and old microphones strung together by a tangled mess of guitar cables."
It's true. Any resemblance to facial-haired hipsters in trucker caps is only a passing one; Biram is more like a throwback to an era of realness, a one-man antidote to the scourge of Auto-Tune.
However, his bio may be a little dated because he told us that lately he's eschewed the voice-distorting mics that gave his vocals that old-time feel.
For one thing, “junkies in Portland stole it from me," Biram said. Since, “I've kind of cleaned up the vocals; they are still a little gritty."
He continued: “They don't sound like they're in a can anymore. I did that for a long time. You gotta change it up every few years. Plus, I was getting a lot of people who were saying, 'Why do you always use the distortion on your vocals? You got a great voice.' I listen to people sometimes. I don't always agree with what they say, but I listen to people sometimes."
And how. At least one live song posted on YouTube ends with Biram offering to fight someone after the show.
“Oh no," he said when we mention the truculent video.
Does that kind of thing happen a lot at shows?
“Not so much anymore, not since I put down the whiskey," he said, laughing. “I try not to get into anything like that if I can help it. My agent told me once, 'Everyone will remember you hitting the person in the face, but they won't remember why you did it.'
“You know, someone might be throwing beer all over you or something like that, and then you go take care of business. No one's gonna remember that the guy threw beer on ya, or who it was. I don't need to do that kind of stuff anymore. Getting too old for that."
Not that Biram can't take a hit. In 2003, the car he was driving collided head-on with an 18-wheeler truck. He spent months in a wheelchair and had 1½ feet of intestine removed, but he survived. In fact, one month after the accident, he played a gig with an IV in his arm.
The experience led him to write “a few songs that had something to do with that," said Biram, whose most recent album is 2011's “Bad Ingredients."
Any influence the accident had on him had more to do with “my perseverance and just keepin' on," he said. There's video footage of him being extracted from his crushed vehicle at www.j.mp/biramcrash — but like his music, it's not necessarily for the faint of heart.
Speaking of songwriting and YouTube, Biram is not above sparring with dumb commenters.
“I'll go on there every couple of months, and occasionally I comment back if someone says something that they need to be put in their place," he said. “Like someone was saying, 'I really like the live version of this, but I don't like the background gospel singers on there.'
“I'm like, it's me singing the background. I'm the one singing!" he said.