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Q&A with Go Magazine

Making Noise: Bettencourt's Giraffe Attack turns bar bands on their ear

By MIKE OLCOTT

Eric Bettencourt may not admit it, but the guy is in a great place for an up-and-comer.

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"I don't ever want to stop playing with these guys," says Portland studio stalwart Eric Bettencourt, playing the summer bar scene with Chris Chasse and Ryan Cyr.

He's already cranked out a couple of solid LPs, his Shadow Shine label and studio are no longer secrets in town, and he's quietly asserting himself as a major presence on the Portland scene.

Then there's Giraffe Attack, the project Bettencourt put together with Chris Chasse (bass, vocals) and Ryan Cyr (vocals, drums) just for a slice of fun on the side.

Check out this tight outfit at 10 tonight at Grace, 15 Chestnut St., Portland. For information, visit www.giraffeattack.com.


Bettencourt recently took time away from his uber-busy schedule to talk to GO:

What are you working on right now?
Aside from the other work I currently have going in the studio (Amanda Gervasi, Jesse Pilgrim and the Bonfire, Alison Violette, the Grant Street Orchestra and Geoff Zimmerman), I have recently finished records with Pete Miller, Tommy Bazarian, Jaeger Wells, Jesse Pilgrim and Kyla Morse.

How does playing with Giraffe Attack fit into everything else you are doing?
Giraffe Attack plays mostly cover songs, so we go to local bars, play songs of our choosing to a built-in crowd, make a few bucks and have a blast. It's a great income supplement, and is 1,000 times better than sitting in a cubicle or working at McDonald's.

I feel being in this band is so important to the bigger picture, especially for me. For one thing, nothing makes you better as a player and a performer than playing a ton. That's what we do; we're playing two to three times a week this summer, and a lot of new gigs are popping up from word of mouth and the name we're getting as a good band.

Part of the draw, from what I hear a lot, is that we stay away from your typical overplayed cover-band songs. Instead of "Mustang Sally "or "Sweet Home Alabama," you'll hear "I Am the Walrus" and "Don't Do It."

Did your Giraffe Attack band mates contribute on the LP named for them?
Both of these guys helped me so much on "The Giraffe Attack Collection" LP (2009). They're my songs, but the guys had a huge part in the final product. I don't think we'll be doing a Giraffe Attack release; we've kicked around the idea of doing goof-off songs for fun, but nothing too serious. None of us are too interested in trying to make a name for Giraffe Attack in original music.

It's so much work to get that type of thing off the ground and I'm already busy promoting my own music, and Chris Chasse and Ryan Cyr have too much going on to dedicate time to that. Ryan has so many amazing songs and we've been slowly pecking away at recording, but there has been no real push. I hope soon; the world needs to hear his music.

Have you ever played inside Grace? How does the room sound?
Yes, we've played at Grace a few times, such a beautiful room. Apparently, it sounds amazing. That's what everyone tells us, anyway.

Will there be a GA reunion tour in 25 years?
I don't ever want to stop playing with these guys. It's so much fun, and we all feel that we're starting to really hit our stride as far as jelling musically. Playing in this band is so effortless. If we don't drink too many beers and start watching funny stuff on YouTube, we can usually get five to 10 new songs in one practice.

WHAT'S ON ERIC BETTENCOURT'S iPOD:

1. "Love Is All I Am," Dawes
2. "Airplanes,"
Local Natives
3. "Cowgirls in the Sand,"
Neil Young
4. "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,"
Led Zeppelin
5. "Freedom Hangs Like Heaven,"
Iron and Wine
6. "California Stars,"
Wilco
7. "The Rabbit, the Bat & the Reindeer,"
Dr. Dog
8. "Getting Better,"
The Beatles
9. "Blood,"
The Middle East
10. "Farewell Angelina,"
Bob Dylan

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