Interview with front man Greg Bryce
By KRYSTAL MARIE COLLINS
A loaded cocktail of delta blues style slide guitar jumped up and electrified with a punk rock influence hammers through the amps when Black Flowers Black Sun (BFBS) take the stage at one of their various Bend haunts: Cindercone Clay Studio, M & J Tavern, The Volcanic Theatre Pub and once upon a time The Horned Hand.
Their sound could be compared to mainstream bands like The Black Keys or White Stripes earlier on; dirty roots blues. Locally, analogs include Hillstomp and Hopeless Jack.
After growing up in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan playing proto punk base and absorbing influence from bands like Iggy Pop and the Stooges and MC5, band founder and front man Greg Bryce traded four strings for eight.
He explains the transition saying, “When I was in high school, friends gave me various cassette tapes of artists like Son House, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Elmore James and Fred McDowell. When I picked up the guitar, I started emulating that music. I bought my first guitar without knowing how to play, but I bought the same one I had seen in a picture of Son House.”
In 2006, Bryce started jamming as BFBS. Version 1.0 was a two piece he describes as, “wood shedding it.” Version 2.0 brought in current lap steelist Andy Coman and drummer Randy Rooker.
To explain the origin of the name, Bryce offers, “In a print making class in school, I made an image of flowers and a sun. I have been repurposing that image for 35 years. When I was coming up with a band name, the image from that print created it.”
Presently the band’s base camp is Bend. Although, Bryce travels to Fairbanks every summer for employment with the Alaska Fire Service as a helicopter manager. About his job Bryce says, “It’s sort of like a flying pickup truck, I make contact with ground forces, determine their needs, be it aerial recon, mapping, eyes in the sky or dropping water and give support from the sky.”
“Playing music together in BFBS is a kind of catharsis,” Bryce reflects, Nowadays, the band is getting pretty tight, it’s sort of like jumping off a cliff and you are along for the ride. I’ll start the first couple beats, and then the band joins in. Us as whole is so much greater than the individual parts.”
In the song Chainsaw, BFBS address the trial fighting wildland fire can take on a romantic relationship. When asked if the songs’ narrative is based on past experiences, Bryce pauses and thoughtfully expresses, “Yep. Being gone half the year really screws up a relationship, the ladies don’t like that. Working 16 hours a day, being gone and then getting a call from a girlfriend saying we are done, that’s what Chainsaw is about.”
To close our interview, Bryce wanted to give a shout out to some of his favorite local bands and musicians, “Rural Demons, Kylan Johnson, Harley Bourbon, The Grave Robbers Jukebox, Wilderness and Big Evil. The music scene in Bend has a lot of solid acts that are starting to get out on the road and build their brands. They are really worth seeing.”
Followers can look forward to BFBS winter performances October through March. They are scheduled to play their annual welcome home Halloween show October 31 at M & J Tavern.
Other plans in the works include recording time at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle, where legends from Nirvana to Macklemore have put their sound to tape.
Fans jonesing for a fix before then can access BFBS recordings at