Chicago rockers BEDLEM ready to unleash their “vibe thing” to the world!
Interview with Paul Wandtke of BEDLEM
By Cathy Moore of Moore Rock Shots & Reviews
Chicago based metal band BEDLEM, founded by ex TRIVIUM touring powerhouse Paul Wandtke, has released their debut LP Back to Bedlem.
BEDLEM is a bombastic display of groove via Joey Brassal’s catchy guitar style and Paul Wandtke’s monstrous drum kit abilities complimented by Brian Ahern’s bass lines. Their melodic hooks are stringed in with poetic lyric content via vocalist Mike Petrasek’s lyrical vision. There’s no doubt that this quartet from Chicago, IL is the next up and coming act from the Windy City.
Get to know BEDLEM a little better through our interview with drummer extraordinaire Paul Wandtke.
RAPMM: You are an extraordinary talent – aside from being an amazing drummer you also write songs, produce, sing, play guitar, etc. Tell me how and when you started on your musical journey?
Paul Wandtke: Oh thanks you’re too kind. I’ve been playing drums/guitar/singing and writing as long as I can remember, but it hasn’t been until recently that it’s all coming together.
RAPMM: Which “role” (drummer, writer, producer, singer, etc.) do you prefer or love the most and why?
Paul Wandtke: At the core of it all, I’m two different people so it’s hard to have a fav. I’m a drummer that’s an aspiring drummer’s drummer and the other side of me is infatuated with “grunge” and the idea of having a slightly progressive grunge trio as the primary riff writer and singer. We just supported SEETHER and it was a blast.
I will say though that having that producer mind set really helps me with songwriting because I’m thinking in realtime about the finished outcome before it’s actually done, painting a picture I guess. BASICALLY IT ALL GOES HAND IN HAND, I think that’s what makes independent musicians successful by being able to do it all without the aid of outsourcing. I only need my music to be mix/mastered and it’s done.
RAPMM: If you weren’t a musician – what else would you be doing?
Paul Wandtke: I’d be an aspiring musician 🙂 haha
RAPMM: Describe the moment when you decided that you would leave an established band like Trivium to start this new venture with Bedlem. What fears or worries do you have?
Paul Wandtke: I was more worried about financial assets the most so at the end of the day, that’s not rock n roll. Trivium gave me an ultimatum, which was, “move to Florida to join them full time” or “stay in Chicago and get fired”. I chose Chicago and felt the repercussions of leaving an established group. I really wanted to take a chance on my own music because that’s what important to me these days. All of my fav artists were visionaries and wrote their own stuff etc etc and made an impact. I want to leave my mark with both of my bands.
RAPMM: Tell me about this group of guys that have formed Bedlem. How did you all come together?
Paul Wandtke: Bedlem originally started during middle school/high school w/ Brian Ahern on bass and Joey Brassal on guitar and myself on drums but we never took it seriously because we never found a singer and we liked to party…a lot.
Bedlem obviously collapsed after numerous dive bar gigs so we all went our separate ways. So, after high school, I enrolled at Berklee College of Music and the rest is kinda history…………..years go by I called Joey Brassal and was like “dude, music is suppose to be fun man, let’s put BEDLEM together like when we were kids.” He said ok “cool man”. I posted a want ad for a singer before I was officially fired from Trivium and one of the first people to send me an email from the posting was Mike Petrasek whom actually is a childhood friend, so basically BEDLEM 2.0 is looking good since we’re basically a family.
When we first released our first single Triumph we didn’t have a clue if this was gonna work or not. Now after the release of the first album we realize we have a shot at doing this, because there’s something slightly different about BEDLEM, it’s a vibe thing.
RAPMM: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Paul Wandtke: Hard hitting groove metal with a blend of anthemic vocal hooks superimposed w/ thought provoking lyrics.
RAPMM: Are you bothered by the likely comparison to Trivium?
Paul Wandtke: No it’s fine, I actually think it’s cool. Trivium put me in the spotlight for 15 mins so it’s kinda nice to ride the wave for now to help build Bedlem. We’re not on a label so, it is what it is. #I’lltakeitbro
RAPMM: Tell me about the debut album, Back to Bedlem – who did the writing? What was the creative process like?
Paul Wandtke: Just like when we were kids, Joey Brassal and I are the main writers. Joey writes the guitar riffs and then I come in and lay down the drums and make the initial arrangements and vocal melodies.
Mike Petrasek comes in with lyrics and we start tracking. It’s a pretty simple process that works. I call Mike the Jim Morrison of Bedlem because sometimes his lyrics are so obscure and I’ll Ray Manzarek them but only if they are really out there. Brian Ahern will come in and lay down his bass parts and boom it’s done.
RAPMM: Are there any songs that are particularly close to your heart on this album?
Paul Wandtke: I really am proud of it all, but my top 5 are Epidemic, Revelation, Avarice, Bereft, Violence
RAPMM: Do you have any tour plans coming up?
Paul Wandtke: We are such a new band, the only way we could officially tour is if we had an opening slot with a national for a tour, otherwise it could be weekend warrior stuff to help starting building our brand/band unless we say screw it and book our own headliner run at 100 capacity venues haha. Kinda taking it day by day at the moment.
Get an autographed copy of Back to Bedlem now via the band’s official website.