Bitty's name may sound familiar as he is also the vocalist in WARTORN, plays in PYROCLAST, is the captain of the Wisconsin Pyrate Punx crue and writes for Profane Existence. I've met Bitty quite a few times over the last few years and he is always incredibly friendly. He's got some crazy stories and surprises, so get comfy and take a few minutes to read our chat together!
ThrashHead: How's it going Bitty?
Bitty: Good man, how are you doing?
ThrashHead: Good. Let's dive right in. How far into the tour are you?
Bitty: About halfway through.
ThrashHead: How many dates so far?
Bitty: I think 7 or 8. We've swooped through the Midwest, we did the Midwest Hellfest, and then out to Athens Ohio, we played Forward Ohio Fest. We did a bunch of dates in between like Minneapolis, Chicago, all sorts of places.
ThrashHead: How was the Midwest Hellfest?
Bitty: It turned out great! It was successful...We lost a little bit of money, but that was just on plane tickets and some other stuff that got kind of messed up at the end.
ThrashHead: You are one of the main organizers of that right?
Bitty: Yeah, me and Ella did most of the organizing.
ThrashHead: To put something together like that how far in advance did you have to start thinking about it and contacting the bands?
Bitty: I started six months in advance, to be able to get all the 'T's crossed and the 'I's dotted. I figured it would be just a really big show but there are all of these things, bands flying in, you have all these people that are willing to put them up but then you have to coordinate where everyone is going that night. You have to make sure everybody is fed, you have to make sure hotel rooms are taken care of, Ella did that. The sound guy ended up in jail (laughs). I had to hire a new sound guy like 3 days before the fest. If you do a house show there really isn't a lot of overhead, it was like $400 just to rent the building. So there is a lot of overhead just between sound and that. Food and beer for the bands was close to $400 and that's not even going into paying like a gazillion bands.
ThrashHead: So you did that as a Pyrate Punx event right?
ThrashHead: You're not Milwaukee; you're right outside Milwaukee aren't you?
Bitty: Me and Ella live in Green Bay, but what happened is our state is really connected anyway so as far as our chapter, our chapter is a little different because it's the whole state. It's not just the city. Originally when we talked they had like the LA Pyrate Punx and this city and that and I'm like, ya' know, Wisconsin population wise is like only 2 LA's.
ThrashHead: How long have you been a chapter?
Bitty: Oh, a year, a little over a year maybe.
ThrashHead: What were some of the reasons you had for wanting to start a Pyrate Punx chapter?
Bitty: The thing I liked about it is it was a lot of what we already did. We always fed bands and financially made sure the bands were taken care of. We always try to be as organized as possible. Even for like doing one show I'll flyer like 5 cities and I attract people from all sorts of cities just because of the way our state is. And the whole eastern side of our state always has really good shows and people will end up in different cities. When I toured the west coast I was like "the Pyrate Punx really have it together", it's organized and it's a collective throughout the whole world. And I was like "why not the mid-west too?"
ThrashHead: Have you gotten any grief from anyone as far negative backlash for being Pyrate Punx?
Bitty: We only got a real little bit of it. At first it was like "well it's not our idea so we don't like it" (laughs)! That's really what it came down to.
ThrashHead: That's probably a pretty accurate way to describe the reaction in Denver as well.
Bitty: And some people were kind of like "well it's kind of elitist" and I'm like it doesn't have to be elitist unless you make it that way. It's no different that like if I put "Power ????? Presents" like I did in the 90's when I did a record label and then I did shows in Manitowoc Wisconsin. I did shows there for probably like 10-12 years. So what's the difference if it says "Pyrate Punx presents"? Except for the fact that I've gotten more Pyrate Punx bands, people get a hold of me, it's easier to get a hold of me, you have a couple of different ways to get a hold of me, and it's easier to get a hold of promoters, it just makes everything easier.
ThrashHead: What were some of the bands you saw when you were young? How did you get into hardcore and punk?
Bitty: How the hell did I get into this? Actually there was this skateboard video called 'Summer Sessions' and it was playing TSOL. I was a little kid so I liked roller skating at the roller skating center and they started selling skateboards and I'm like "I gotta' get one of those" but my parents weren't gonna' give me the money so I had to go cut lawns for $1.75 an hour or whatever it was back then. No, it was $2.25? The funny thing is it took an hour to mow the guys lawn and the guy would write me out a check for $2.25. That's how I got into it, I started learning there were a lot of bands from my town like WISCONCENTRATION CAMP was one of the bands I started seeing. We lived in such an isolated area I thought shows only happened in LA and other big cities and whatever. We used have the 'The Decline...' and we used to watch that. So Green Bay was actually like the first place I saw a show. And then finally in the late 80's they started doing basement shows in like 88 and then in 89 was like the first big fest that a guy put on that I went to and I had a good time.
ThrashHead: That's really similar to where we grew up, a couple of small towns that were connected and there were a couple of local bands and like the first punk shows over there were '86 or '87, I was in high school. It was like '88 or '89 before there were a couple of bands. Before that it was like one hardcore band would play with a couple of heavy metal bands. Everybody just kind of hung out together.
Bitty: There was like a skate punk scene and then a metal scene. The metal scene became punk and they started turning into like a GG Allin, DWARVES type thing called PUBLIC DISCRACE and we used to play a lot of shows with them, I was in a band called DOGHEAD at the time and so we'd do basement shows in like the late '80s.
ThrashHead: You've always been a big wrestling fan haven't you?
Bitty: Yes I have. I pro wrestled for 10 years! If you look up Straight-edge Eric Hammers on Youtube you can see my video of what I did in the ACW wrestling TV, that as TV out of Green Bay. I taught Mr. Kennedy how to wrestle, he's now Mr. Anderson and he's fighting Sting for the heavy weight title for TNA right now.
ThrashHead: How come you don't wrestle anymore?
Bitty: 15 car accidents kind of ruined my body. My C, 3,4,and 5 are really messed up, I have a bulging disc that makes my left arm numb. I had to eventually quit wrestling. I was in that car jacking accident I wrote about in Profane....
ThrashHead: Yeah that was nuts, didn't you ram the car into a brink wall or something?
Bitty: A parked truck. The guy was strangling me with a cord telling me to pull over he was going to murder me and I'm well "I'm driving you dumb fuck, you probably should have waited until I stopped to pull this" and so I just smashed into a parked truck going about 65 and it tore the inside of my abdomen and I had to have surgery cuz my intestines were like pushing out and stuff. That kind of really wrecked my wrestling career too. I remember I tried to come back to try and wrestle and I just couldn't do...like I used to be able to moonsault, and do like halos off the top and all kinds of stuff and now I can barely do anything.
ThrashHead: Did you wrestle any "names" or rising stars?
Bitty: I did stuff for King Kong Bundy just where I got thrown around. I wrestled the Cat, Jerry "the King" Lawler's ex-wife, I kind of did the Andy Kauffman thing and Jerry "the King " Lawler sat me down and told me the ins and outs of how to make the match look realistic and what to do to make it not look fucked up and stuff. I wrestled a lot of women and midgets down in Chicago. That was a lot of fun. There's nothing funnier...and it shows still how sexist and weird some males kind of are in wrestling cuz I was like...I wrestled the old champion in TNA, ODB and we had this thing where I wrestled a midget first and then the midget beat me so I was gonna' wrestle his valet and then the valet, I like pie faced her or whatever and I got the crowd totally mad pretending to be the sexist guy and then ODB came in the wring and gave me her finisher and then she rolled the valet on me so the valet pinned be me also. So pretty much everybody pinned me that night. She was like "are you sure it's ok for me to give you only one move and have you lose?" and I'm like "Yeah sure. Why?" and she said "Well most guys don't even like me beating them" and I'm like "Well most guys are idiots. I don't care, as long as the crowd is happy". What the fuck do I care, why should I care anyways?
ThrashHead: That's cool man! What was your reaction to the death of the Macho Man?
Bitty: I don't know. It was shocking, it was kind of weird. That guy had a lot of problems when he was younger so I'm not that surprised.
ThrashHead: He was always one of my favorite wrestlers.
Bitty: A great worker! Him and Ricky the Dragon stole the show.
ThrashHead: I got to see him wrestle a few times at the Denver Coliseum. I tried to keep up with what he was doing the last few years, there were always rumors of a comeback. But he was pushing 60 and when he died he was 60.
Bitty: I also saw a photo of him where he was gray hair, gray beard, and he looked really old and worn out. I don't know how value you're gonna get out of him when you start looking, being as old as they are. You can kind of have him stand in the corner and punch somebody or get beat up for somebody, they can't do like a tumble with the guy. Like even Hulk Hogan moves pretty gingerly in the ring after his knee surgeries and stuff. I wrestled CM Punk, I know him pretty well, like before he got famous. I actually remember seeing him at his debut match and two matches after I went up to him and said "hey dude you've got a lot of talent". He was like "thank you, thank you", so polite, one of the nicest guys. I actually discovered Horneswoggle, the Leprechaun. I was at a show in Oshkosh I saw him and I walked up to him and said one of my friends would use him if he wanted to make money in wrestling and he said "I'm only 13 and I want to play with my friends". Being a midget, or being a little person, I couldn't really tell his age at all so I said "Well when your 18 if you see me at a wrestling show, I have a wrestling school so..."
ThrashHead: You ran a wrestling school?
Bitty: Yeah. That's how we taught Mr. Kennedy how to wrestle. He was like our second student we turned out and...He was what, like one day off from getting WWE Championship gold? Then he hurt his shoulder a little bit, it was kind of weird because all of a sudden they switched over to Edge real quick, and like how they got rid of him. I kind of think, and this is just my opinion, I kind of think HHH doesn't want anyone having the title that can outshine him. Like he'll let you have the title if you're not someone who can outshine him, someone he can pull the belt back off of. I think he's kind of a detriment to WWE but that is just my opinion.
ThrashHead: That makes sense. HHH is still one of my favorites that's out there today...
Bitty: He's amazing in the wring, but behind the scenes...I wasn't there but this is a true story: I wrestled with, do you know who Davari is? He's one of the middle-eastern guys that would come out "America is racist, ever since 9-11 they treat us like shit". That guy...fucking nicest dude you'll ever meet. Fuckin' great worker too. And a couple of my friends did security for the WWE and they saw Sean and they're like "Davari, how's it going?" and he was like "I just bought a thing in Dallas and blah, blah, blah" and HHH looks up and says "Don't spend all your money kid, the dream can end tomorrow ya know". It's like why would you say that in front of a dudes friends? It's like Davari made it and now he's not paying enough attention to you?
ThrashHead: Dudes like HHH, their old, probably in a ton of pain all the time and they can see the end of their career is not far off, they are probably kind of bitter. Do you think there is any truth to that?
Bitty: I think that is true for some guys but I think his is different. He's married to the boss's daughter, he has a lot of stroke and a lot of power and his decisions go more than a lot of other peoples and so he can easily get in Vince's ear, he's his father-in-law. And some of his ideas are really good but some of his ideas aren't the greatest so...And I like I said I don't think he likes any body shining more than him. WWE also wants like Stone Cold and the Rock and all those things happen, they want their brand name to be bigger than any one entity in the company and they hold a lot of people down. They just want the brand to be able to be what people are paying to see instead of certain stars.
ThrashHead: WARTORN...How long was WARTON together?
Bitty: WARTORN has been around now for like 6 years.
ThrashHead: Is WARTORN still active, are you paused, is it done in lieu of DRESDEN?
Bitty: DRESDEN actually happened because WARTORN had slowed down so much. Our guitar player only wanted to play a couple of shows a year. I'm used to touring 5-6 weeks a year in bands so I was like well, I also knew Bones was moving to our town and that was the guitar player I wanted to work with, that's the guitar player in DRESDEN. Slowly but surely we got some people on board, then we lost some members, and then we got the line-up now which is the tightest line-up and works the best for us. WARTORN is still a band but we only play like 3 shows a year, we played Hellfest and we'll play like two more shows over the course of the year but that's about it.
ThrashHead: How long has DRESDEN been together now?
Bitty: About a year and half.
ThrashHead: What do you do when you are not touring?
Bitty: I'm a barber.
ThrashHead: Are you really?
Bitty: Yeah, I own a barber shop, I cut hair. That's what I do for a job.
ThrashHead: You can do men's haircuts besides just getting out the clippers and...
Bitty: Yeah, I am a certified cosmetologist.
ThrashHead: Look at this guy! And he was a fricken' pro wrestler! A certified cosmetologist! What else should we know about you man?
Bitty: I don't know.
ThrashHead: What happened with INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL?
Bitty: Homeland Security saved us from great music. I guess they just started quizzing them and held them for 6 hours or some shit and finally said you don't have Work Visas and if you come back to the country you're a felon and if you come back to the country we'll put you in jail so you can never come back to the country. They put them on a plane and shipped them back. Ella paid for their plane tickets so we gotta wait and see what the hell is going on because she might get more charges, cancellation fees. Which is kind of bullshit! It's like "you are the guys that cancelled them not us". But yeah they just held them and sent them home.
ThrashHead: So they were here and questioned by Homeland Security...
Bitty: Yeah, they got pulled out right away. My friend Goren made it into the country, he said the same thing happened with him but he's gone through it some many times he had an easier time getting through.
ThrashHead: What do you think are the main differences between DRESDEN and WARTORN? From your perspective as the vocalist and probably writing the lyrics do you try to do anything different between the two bands? How do you save ideas for one band versus the other?
Bitty: I guess I haven't even thought of that. I pretty do the same thing in both bands. Except I sing a bit differently, like WARTORN is more Crust and I sing in like kind of a Crust voice, in an almost monotone crusty voice. And then in DRESDEN they were all like "Hey we kind of want you to do more of the WORDS THAT BURN voice, so do more of a Hardcore voice and not so much of a crusty voice". So it's a little different that way as far as how I sing but as far as what I write about it's all the same. Even a lot of times I only touch on certain political issues, most of my stuff is stories or situations that have happened. I don't really like to tell people what to do, they can kind of do whatever they want to do, that's their business and their deal. I'm not here to scold people, I think that bands that do that are a little bit weird. In DRESDEN I'm writing a song called 'Shallow Grave', it's going to be our next 7". It's about a lot of people, I see them on stage and they say shtick and what they are about, political this and political that and then they kind of talk shit to my face. I see a lot of that or I wont say any names but as an example this one person really preaches a shit ton on stage but then off stage they are like...They saw me blink weird and I kind of jerked my head weird and she said "What's up with that?". I said "I have Tourette's Syndrome", she's like "I thought mental illness was just an excuse...", and I was like "An excuse for what? Like it's fun to jerk your head around and blink your eyes weird?" And then she just stopped talking to me and walked away, totally ostracized me. It was just really weird. I saw another person, I won't say who, a known anarchist, a fairly known person in this scene and our guitar player was from the same country they were from and he asked him if he could speak a certain language and as soon as he said "no" they turned their back on him. He said that was rude "your fucked", whatever. In my opinion that's kind of nationalist for being so anarchy. All of a sudden it's that guys fault for where he was born? It's not his fault what languages he learned, only what he was taught in school and only what the people spoke where he was. There are all sorts of happenings like that.
ThrashHead: I was thinking about that today...Even within the Punk scene and even in the anarchist part of the scene you can't escape the hypocrisies. Hopefully you find your group of people, your tribe and you limit it, but I was thinking of the punks who, or the punks in general who don't like to be judged but are often very quick to judge others.
Bitty: Oh yea! Super quick, yeah. Even in Profane if you read my column, a lot of my columns in Profane are more like stories of events that happened to me or situations and the way they played out. And then kind of what I think about them...I only do response things for the most part. People are like "you gotta couple more songs?" and I'm like "Well I gotta wait for something to happen." All of my stuff is response stuff. I also meet people like the straight-edge people and they'll be telling you "things have to be this way" and I'm "I'm straight-edge and I have been straight-edge since 1989", but I don't give a flying fuck if my friends drink or do drugs. If they are doing too many drugs, well that's their problem and that's fucked up! If they want me to help them I'll be there to help them, but if they don't want to be told what to do then it's none of my fucking concern...Until they ask for help. I don't judge people on that, I don't really care if people drink or smoke, do drugs do whatever they want to do. If that's what they enjoy that's how they medicate situation or just having fun, that's their deal, none of my business.
ThrashHead: I stopped drinking a couple of years ago. Sometimes people will ask me if I mind if they drink "Go ahead, party on bro!" I can't be there. I exhausted that.
Bitty: Yeah...WARTORN is also more like straight forward epic Crust like WOLF BRIGADE style and DRESDEN is more Metal. WARTORN is normally tuned to D and DRESDEN is down tuned to C. And we got Hart form WARTORN on drums also and a guy named Zach playing guitar and Ella from WARTON playing bass. Zach is a shredder, Zach plays Metal as fuck solos, our new record is going to sound pretty damn metal. There is definitely a difference, there are a lot of similarities because 3 of the members are the same people but lie the main writer in WARTORN was Ryan for music and Hart wrote a lot with him and the main writer in this band is Bones and then Zach writes a little with him. Then me and Hart, well Hart wasn't even in the band up until 3,4,5 months ago, will throw in little hooks and catches and stuff like that.
ThrashHead: How did you start working with Profane Existence?
Bitty: I think it was through a magazine called 'Mass Movement' out of England. Beer City records was kind of hooked up with them. They wanted an interview with Ken, not sure if he ever did the interview.
ThrashHead: Did you have something to do with Beer City Records?
Bitty: I was just on it a bunch and I'm really good friends with Mike. Fucking great guy. As far as all the shit talkers on Beer City...Beer City treated me like gold! Everything I was ever supposed to get was on time if not early. Dan saw WARTORN play and we played DISRESPECT and he said "If I had the money I'd put you guys' record out, I have the first LP, I like you guys but I have too many records promised right now so I cant really work with you guys but I do like you guys." So I was like cool, right on, a nice as hell compliment coming from Dan for all the millions of bands that dudes sees and helps out with and stuff. Then maybe six months later I just called him one day and "Hey I wrote a column in Mass Movement, you can check it out. Do you need any writers?" He said "Yeah, let me check your shit out" and he okayed it and said I could be a writer. Then he saw the new lineup of WARTORN, we started as a three piece but we couldn't pull off what we did in the recording studio live so we got Toban and we played a show in Mexico where there was only one mic stand and me and the other guitar player were smacking heads while we were trying to sing into the one mic stand. I was like "Dude fuck this man, I shouldn't even play bass, I'm just average at best". Ella, my girlfriend and fiancé can play bass way better than I can. She played classical piano for ten years, she's talented as fuck. "Why don't we get her to play bass" and they said "Okay lets try her out and she was in. She can play, her rhythm is fucking amazing. Then when we were a 5 piece that's when Dan saw us again. I remember the moment. We played Apocalyptic Crust Fest. I think it was the first year Karlos did it and I remember sitting in the crowd thinking this is either going to suck or be something amazing, it's not going to be in the middle. And there were like hundreds of kids at the fest and we had a really good spot in the middle and I remember we played and the place went fucking nuts! I was like on top of the crowd and getting thrown anywhere. After the set I walked up to Dan and...I take meds because of my Tourette's and become over stimulated and then I cant pay attention to anything or I don't make sense and stuff usually like right after a set. So I walk off and Dan was like "Bitty that was fucking amazing. I'm going to put out a split with you and APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT, Im doing your next full length, I'm doing the CD version, you guys are fucking great!" and I said "Oh. Do you think we played ok tonight?" He was like "I just gave you 3 records, what do you think?"..."Oh yea...I suppose that would be a good thing." He said "Dude are you ok?" I said "Yeah, I'm having really bad ADD now that we got done playing, this was pretty overwhelming."
ThrashHead: So you and Ella are engaged? When's the big date?
Bitty: Yeah. I dunno. She's still going to college, so we don't want to fuck up her getting financial benefits. If were married they count both of ours pay, being just engaged they just count hers. I think we've been engaged 10 years now! The engagement is working out well! Engagements never end in divorce, only marriages do!