It’s been three years since Weekly Alibi spoke with local metal maven Steve Beneath. He’s the voice and soul behind stalwart metal maniacs The Ground Beneath. Dude has been up and down with the scene during those intervening years, it seems.
Steve Beneath is still rocking, but took some time after the last Ground Beneath shows in 2014 and 2015, to reconfigure his head, his career and the band’s sound and membership.
These days his fiancée Jess Beneath is handling the bass. And youngish newcomer Seth Beneath has joined the band, providing a thick Plutonic beat to the proceedings as well as imbuing the whole new effort with a millennial sort of vibe that Steve believes will help take the band into the year 2020 and beyond.
With so much going on with the latest iteration of The Ground Beneath—and while the local scene is in flux—Weekly Alibi met with Steve and Seth to see how it was going ahead of two big shows the band is playing in January.
On Monday, Jan. 20, The Ground Beneath provides support for instrumental guitar rock god Tony MacAlpine. That show will be at one of Steve’s favorite local venues, Launchpad. After that, The Ground Beneath will be headlining at Moonlight Lounge’s Slam and Jamm concert on Friday, Jan. 31.
In real life, Steve Beneath is Steve Civerolo, a member of the marketing team at AGM Media. But everyday when he isn’t working in the media biz, the dude is going the extra mile to bring his band back into the limelight and to score another victory for metal. In a town where even the mayor likes to bang his head hesher-style while being known by those in the know as the “Metal Mayor”—and even as hip-hop and EDM make inroads into local rock club programming—The Ground Beneath is set to rise again, heavy metal flavor and all.
Here’s a bit of what Steve Beneath—and new drummer Seth Beneath—told Weekly Alibi about being in a metal band in Burque in the year of our metal lord 2020.
Weekly Alibi: Steve, tell our readers a little bit about The Ground Beneath.
Steve Beneath: We’re local. We’ve been here all of our lives. A couple of us are in our thirties now, but Seth, our new drummer, just turned 25. We’ve now a got a bit of that “youth energy” on the drums, which is killer. That makes the rest of us work harder. We’ve been putting together some new songs. It’s Southern rock, super riff-heavy stuff. We’ve got a gig on Monday, Jan. 20 at the Launchpad with Tony MacAlpine. He has this guy from South America, Aquiles Priester, on drums. This guy auditioned for Dream Theater! He smokes. It’s an all-star band. It’s on a Monday night, but I gotta tell you, August, this will be the best Monday night show ever.
It sounds like it’s going to be great! I’ve been waiting for some killer metal shows. You’re also playing at Moonlight Lounge at the end of the month, que no?
We’re headlining that gig on Friday, Jan. 31. We’re going to play for an hour. We’re going to play a whole bunch of classic, old tunes—but we might bring out a new song or two. We’ve been working on a lot of new stuff.
What is the history of The Ground Beneath?
About 20 years ago, I was playing my first bar gigs in Nashville. I was 14 years old. At 19 years old, we were playing gigs at the Golden West. We were getting into these venues that we probably shouldn’t have been in. The first Ground Beneath album is about to turn 15 years old. That’s crazy.
It’s just amazing how quickly the past 15 or 20 years have gone by.
It was a whole different scene back then. There were literally 16 or 17 places to play that were going off every night. Then there were the Alibi crawls in the spring and fall.
Plus, there was a really developed rock music scene here in Albuquerque. I kinda feel like, except for a couple of stalwart bands, the rock scene ...
Has really splintered here? Yeah. Big time. There’s not a whole lot going on. But when we play a show in Burque, we bring a good line-up, either from out of state or from in town. We really try to make our shows count. I gotta tell you, that last show we did at the Moonlight Lounge was packed. It’s a tiny place, but we killed it and had a blast tearing it up.
Seth, how do you like playing in The Ground Beneath?
Seth Beneath: I love playing in the band. The style fits right in with my personal playing style. I come from a really big musical family. My cousin is actually the drummer for Buckcherry.
I get a lot of my influences from him. Also Neil Peart is really important to me. John Bonham too. I have that metal mentality in my playing.
Tell me a little bit about the sound you all have developed.
Steve: It’s based on Southern rock, like Black Label Society and so forth. Also COC, Pantera. I mean, we rip those guys off all day.
How about that heavy Southern boogie rock, like Blackfoot? Do you guys dig that style, too?
Oh, yeah, of course. We got to open for so many bands like that, that influenced us, like Black Stone Cherry, they’re from Kentucky and play that super Southern rock. But we also got to open for Soilwork, from Sweden. They’re really heavy. We also opened for Soulfly a few times. These shred-heads, like Tony MacAlpine, also influenced our work. We’ll take it all. There are definitely a lot of influences, but we tend to lean on the heavier side, for sure.
What’s important to you, musically speaking?
You know going back, my dad was in a band that was on the road a lot. We always had records, too—Zeppelin, KISS, Van Halen, Scorpions. We were raised on that.
Seth: I was pretty much raised on the same bands.
Steve: It really clicked. When Seth first found us, he was texting me, asking what we listened to.
Were you a fan of The Ground Beneath, Seth?
Seth: I happened to come across an internet posting about the band; it had been up for a number of years.
Steve: It was like, we were looking for a drummer, but the post was from 6 or 7 years ago.
Wow! That’s kinda mystical.
I asked him what his favorite bands were, and he texted me a list of my favorite bands. I showed this to my girlfriend, our bass player, and we thought it was a Russian bot or something. But then, she was like, you better fucking call this guy! This could really be something. We hadn’t played in a year and a half. We hadn’t really found anyone who wanted to create a new record, a new sound—until Seth rolled up. So, we’ve been firing it up for the past six months, playing gigs. We’re going back to the studio this year, too.
We’re all about quality. Quality performances and quality records. Anyone can crap out the next slick Nickelback-
They don’t really have much in terms of chops.
There’s a lack of substance. But we really practice a lot, especially because of Jess. She was a music major from the East Coast. She played Carnegie Hall when she was a teenager. She could play every instrument in the band if she wanted to.
Metal is about awesome playing, isn’t it?
Well, me and Seth are kinda like the dirtbags, coming from the place where we had all the Van Halen records when we were kids. Jess is a musician, she’s the boss. We’re practicing like 4 nights a week, hell or high water. It’s cool. She cracks the whip, Seth brings the youthful energy. It’s not all on my shoulders anymore. That’s the main vibe now. That’s where the difference resides in The Ground Beneath.
It’s almost like a whole new band!
I dig it. It’s not like the Steve Beneath solo project anymore. It’s a real heavy metal band. We’re putting a lot of new songs together. Our next record is going to be so mean!