Raucous Beta Bomb ready to detonate


He spits the words out as if they were coated in something foul- tasting.

“Pretty.”

“Safe.”

Timothy Styles looks as if he swallowed a bug as he says them, sitting outside a southside Starbucks on a chilly Tuesday evening, hoodie pulled over his head to defend against the cold.

Styles is talking about his new band Beta Bomb, which is an abrupt departure from his two previous groups, ostentatious rockers Skorchamenza, which he fronted, and indie popsters Big Friendly Corporation, in which he played bass.

The two aforementioned adjectives that Styles utters with disdain serve as something of a guiding principle for Beta Bomb: The band was born in opposition to both.

Visceral and highly concentrated, with a nasty guitar tone that harangues and pesters with the persistence of a debt collector, Beta Bomb plays garage rock — if said garage was filled with exploding amplifiers and overheated distortion pedals.

It’s a raw, lived-in sound.

“I think it sounds honest,” Styles notes, working on a pack of Marlboros.

In many ways, Beta Bomb is a reaction to the boredom and cynicism that Styles says he began to feel toward music in general before he started getting into listening to vinyl records, gravitating to no-frills, DIY rockers such as Ty Segall and Jay Reatard.

“It reinvented my love for rock ’n’ roll,” Styles says. “All of a sudden, I got the bug, ‘I want to make another rock record.’ ”

Initially, Styles was going to carry on as Skorchamenza, and the band he assembled, which also features guitarist Justin Wolf, drummer Brandon Johnson and bassist Carlos Medina, played some shows under that name before Styles realized that he wanted a fresh start.

“When I started writing, it just wasn’t the same,” he says.

Styles is working on a full-length Beta Bomb album and has demoed nearly a dozen tracks already. The songs sound completely different from what he’s done before: On the three we heard, he sings in understated, almost detached tones, harmonizing frequently, the opposite of the verbose howl he employed in Skorchamenza.

His guitar playing, though, is unrestrained. He solos feverishly for the first time on The Kinks-meets-Queens-of-the-Stone-Age bombast of “Oh My, Oh No.” And the hooky lurch of “That’s All I Need” sounds like he guzzled codeine before cutting the vocals.

Beta Bomb is likely to play some of those tunes at its first show, Saturday at the Velveteen Rabbit.

It’s a new beginning for Styles, precipitated partly by an end.

“I’m a big believer in being age-appropriate,” the 35-year-old says, “and this sound won’t be coming out of me forever. So, I’m just going to try and be challenging and abrasive and different until that point comes. I feel like I got few good years left in me.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.