The Aristocrats hope to fill the Glass

Courtesy photo
The Aristocrats (from left: Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller and Guthrie Govan) are back with a new record and ready to bring raucous progressive rock and rock fusion to The Empty Glass this weekend (photo by Jennifer Young).
WANT TO GO?The AristocratsWith Trielement (not Doug Johns as previously announced)WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.WHEN: 9 p.m. SaturdayTICKETS: $20INFO: Call 304-345-3914 or visit www.emptyglass.com_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bryan Beller has been this way before."I've been to Charleston several times," the bass player for instrumental progressive rock/ jazz-fusion trio The Aristocrats said and then numbered them off.The group, which plays Saturday at The Empty Glass, was in town just a year ago at the now-defunct Sound Factory. Before that, Beller and his wife, singer Kira Small, did a music clinic and show at Gorby's Music in South Charleston. He's been through town several times, but Beller's best memory was a show he did in 2001 at The Empty Glass with progressive rock guitarist and former Frank Zappa sideman Mike Keneally."I remember one of the patrons became naked during our show," Beller said.It was just sort of a weird moment, unexpected. "The bartender had to quickly and profanely admonish the naked customer," he added.It was a pretty wild time, he remembered, which is exactly what The Aristocrats are looking for with their current six-week tour, where they'll be playing small and medium-sized venues.
Beller said, "We love playing these places where you can get 100 to 200 people in a room, just rocking it out. We like having it packed, loud and rowdy. That's our idea of a good time."After the tour is over, The Aristocrats' guitarist, Guthrie Govan, will head out on the road with rocker Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann will go back out with guitar great Joe Satriani."We'll be playing larger places then," he said.Beller doesn't make much of a distinction between the size of the venue. He's excited about going back out on the road with Satriani, but he's also thrilled to be touring with The Aristocrats. The 2-and-a-half-year-old band recently released its second record, "Culture Clash," and he said they're very happy with how it turned out."Our first record was released three months after we formed as a band," he said.And that might have been kind of rushed.
The Aristocrats formed in 2011, right after what was supposed to be a one-off show at the Anaheim Bass Bash in California, part of the National Association of Music Merchants winter show.Beller said he and Minnemann were supposed to play the show with another guitarist, who cancelled shortly before the performance. Instead, they reached out to Govan, who they'd heard about through Facebook friends."We only rehearsed together once, the night before show, and we thought it was something special after the first song," he said.The show went well, and they started playing out together, which led to the hastily produced record and an on-and-off again tour that lasted for 18 months.Beller explained, "Although people received the album well and we had fun playing that material, we all kind of felt like if we had the opportunity to go back in the studio again that we'd be able to do it better and just improve on the familiarity we had from the tour.""Culture Clash" is still the same kind of instrumental rock fusion The Aristocrats has done in the past, but maybe more refined."I feel like it's stronger compositionally," Beller said. "It's more adventurous. It's more eclectic. We all took chances and after playing and hanging out with each other, getting to know each other, we can write things that play to each other's strong suits."So far, he said, the response has been good. With this tour, they're visiting some of the same places they've been to before."And what we're seeing is the turnout for these shows is double what we had before," he said. "We're seeing some real excitement for the record, which is better than no excitement for the record."Beller said he was looking forward to bringing the new stuff to Charleston. Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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