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Interview With Gene Louis From Bullets And Octane

Interview With Gene Louis From Bullets And Octane

Bullets and Octane is a hard-hitting rock band hailing from SoCal who have released some of the best music many have never heard. The heavily road-seasoned band has toured with a who’s who of rock; Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Eagles of Death Metal, Flogging Molly, Unwritten Law, Korn, Flyleaf, Deftones…you get the idea!

Bullets lead singer and chief songwriter, Gene Louis, has been the driving force since the band’s inception. His passion, humor, innate storytelling ability and even his imposed self- destruction has kept the Bullets and Octane song chest full of catchy, sweaty hard rock songs. 

XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?

Gene: Bullets and octane have had many different reincarnations over the years refocusing refining maturing when first it was started as teenagers in 1999 and many things in the music business have also changed, you have to adapt and endure quite a bit to survive.

XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?

Gene: I moved to Southern California from St. Louis Missouri as a Drummer, and quickly realized that if you’re not running the show, you could easily be at the mercy of some lead singer who could fall into drugs, fall in love, or just quit out of nowhere. So I realized I’d have to learn how to write songs learn how to sing learn how to be “the man” in charge of the band. And I knew that I was never going to stop going for it so that is how Bullets and Octane started.

I loved entertaining and being upfront I definitely had many songs in my head and in my heart, and I just wanted to give it all I had, and found a good group of like-minded dudes who believed in the vision.

XS ROCK: What is your music background?

Gene: For me personally my father was a big band, Jazz drummer out of St. Louis who taught Dave Weckl the famous fusion drummer. So that got me started with influencers of jazz and all of my friends and neighbors listened to classic rock and punk rock, etc. and then we were into the 90s and that was a heavy influence, especially with MTV headbangers Ball and Matt Pinfiend with 120 minutes TV show. So there was a lot of influence for a very young teenager. And, like I said before you have to learn quickly to play and write all the instruments yourself to not be at the helm of anyone else who might hold back the process.

XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?

Gene: great question, I’m not quite sure what image the music conveys. I can only hope that people get a sense of freedom, reckless, abandon, and just a good time had by all. Yes of course some songs are serious but a lot of songs are just fun and exciting, and in the moment not to be taken quite too literally. I think the whole idea in my opinion is to engage with the crowd and have them just lose themselves even for a few minutes to forget about their problems and just let go and be in the moment screaming at the top of their lungs and stomach songs, hands in the air and just live in that moment and hold on tight to it as long as you can.

XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?

Gene: for Bullets, 2024 is a busy year with many single releases along with a whole bunch of brand new music videos, and by the end of the year, there’s going to be a fantastic full-length album that will be released followed by touring to support the album. At the moment, just having fun in and out of the studio posting stories on social media, and enjoying the creativity of trying to hunt down great songs that just feel right for the moment.

XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording? or playing for a live audience?

Gene: oh, yes, this question is always an interesting one I feel like you can’t have one without the other, it’s the Ying and the yang, the lemon, and a lime, the chocolate and vanilla, etc., etc. I think that both are extremely necessary. The stresses that happen in the writing process, and in the perfection of being in a studio is a very zoned inn, studying for a big exam type of thing for the most part when you want to really get something down right when it’s permanent. And then you get to let go on tour and just let it be what it is you can only do it once on stage you can’t go back and re-sing it replay it or any of that stuff, so that’s when you get to really let go and just be in the moment look people in the eye smile with people scream at people and just have a great time. I truly think you need to have both.

XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Gene: i’m pretty sure it goes without saying when it comes to lyrics, you basically come up with what the song is making. You feel some songs don’t really call for a very serious personal experience type of lyric, it could be very light-hearted good times stuff we all relate to being stuck in traffic lol, having a good time things like that certain songs called for those very easy-going lyrics. Then of course, especially when you’re making an album you want to have a well-rounded lyrical story, so there’s definitely a handful of songs that have more of a personal vulnerability. The struggles of life experiences trickled throughout. Basic human stuff we all go through it so it’s easy to relate to.

XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?

Gene: Great question, speaking for myself, it’s always trying to hunt down the next hurdle of a song there’s always been songs when you’re growing up that you just can’t believe how amazing they are and I think a lot of musicians and songwriters always remember those songs and hope that one day they will also write something that spectacular important or monumental. And I think that that’s what keeps it exciting for all the years that go by is always constantly trying to push yourself without, leaving behind the essence of the band from Album to album. Like I’m saying I’m not gonna make a reggae album next week just because. I’m still going to be putting together a Bullets And Octane rock ‘n’ roll, but I’m just gonna push the envelope a little bit to see how far I can take things.

XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.

Gene: oh my goodness way too many stories, and most of them I am unable to share lol but the one that comes off the top of my head is being on tour with Stone Sour in the UK a few years back, and at that time being completely out of my mind, sweaty shirtless with some beat up acoustic guitar in convincing everyone that I need to go out on stage, because Corey Taylor asked me to be on stage. This was at the Astoria in London. It was huge. All the press was there, and somehow I stumbled out on the stage with just him out there under the spotlight and I chimed in singing Wicked Game with him, and it was the scariest thing that ever happened. I got sober really quick at that moment lol and Corey and I have never spoken about it since haha

XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

Gene: well in my opinion with the strangest animals kind of creepy forensic files, medical detectives type of serial killer request has been for a lock of hair. That just seems really weird like some Buffalo Bill Silence of the Lambs type stuff. Ha ha.

But for the most part, it’s always been some weird area of the body to sign and believe it or not there have been times when I would return to that country or city and they would have whatever I signed on them permanently now tattooed on them and the worst part is, I would usually make up a name like “Scott” and then I show up and take a look at the tattoo. I got your signature tattooed on me, and I would feel absolutely terrible because my name is clearly not Scott lol.

XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?

Gene: yes yes yes I can definitely say now that I’m getting older I have so much more of an appreciation of the support I had especially in the younger years. Both of my parents are musicians and I think that’s why they were more concerned because they had it pretty tough, making ends meet by means of music. So of course they knew I was going to do it no matter what, I just think that there was most likely many nights with a lot of prayers being said lol but yes, I have definitely been blessed with extreme amounts of support throughout the journey. And I hope to one day make them all proud.

XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?

Gene: I would definitely say the best advice to give a young band is to come up with a weekly, monthly, yearly plan, and to not try to follow too much of one type of sound. To possibly jot down four or five favorite bands, and figure out what it is exactly per band that you like about them. Start early on creating your own sound and two. Definitely not follow what is popular in the current relevant moment. Because that shit will pass and you’ll just be chasing your tail. Your whole career wasting your time. Do what you do do it well and stick to your guns even if it looks bleak, your time will come.

XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?

Gene: well so far, we have really enjoyed playing our brand new single that just came out in early 2024 “Space Lord Symphony” Not only is it fun to play life, but everybody is a super fan of the brand new video on the Bullets And Octane, YouTube channel and everybody catches out of the lyrics quickly and sings along even though the song is brand new. I think that song will stick in the set for a very long time.

XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

Gene: oh my goodness so many artists come to mind when you bring this up. Not only was my dad a big band Jazz drummer. He was also on the side an Elvis impersonator in St. Louis Missouri so I think getting a heavy dose of really intense musicianship, along with showmanship of doing Elvis impersonation was hugely impactful and I remember in the early 90s. My father and I went to a small club called Mississippi Nights to see one of the first tours of the Brian Setzer Orchestra before it blew up. And even though it’s not a direct sonic link to Bullets and Octane something about the swagger of the excitement, the charisma of Brian Setzer and the orchestra, and just the energy that night was definitely a huge influence. That was an undeniable magnet of what was to be the future of Bullets And Octane….. strange, right? You wouldn’t think there’d be a correlation to that.

XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

Gene: my goodness, great question and almost impossible to answer with a simple answer. But I always like to shoot from the hip and off the top of my mind when doing interviews and I would say I do know that Volbeat is coming out with new music in 2025 and wouldn’t that be a fun tour for Bullets to be on. That and Corey Taylor’s new band would be a good fit sonically as well. Fun high energy good time heavy rock ‘n’ roll.

XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

Gene: well there have been different ups and downs throughout the career of Bullets and definitely small victories to be celebrated but I would say at this point I think the biggest accomplishment is never giving up and to keep chasing after making great music and getting this thing to grow as far as it can, while we have the time on earth, and all honesty. I think perseverance is a huge accomplishment, it’s so easy to throw in the towel and walk away, and do something that has a lot more security and stability. But that’s just not in the cards and it wouldn’t be a fulfilling life although it’s a struggle the accomplishment is definitely surviving the odds and sticking to it.

XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you

would have?

Gene: This question definitely is a great follow-up to the previous question. Another reason why we keep doing what we do is because honestly there’s nothing else that makes much sense. I mean you could do things that are slightly comparable to it becoming a tattoo artist, maybe working at some hipster barbershop perhaps starting a podcast all these things, and who knows maybe in the future that all would make sense but for right now, while all of the arms and legs, fingers and toes are still moving and there’s a song to be sung that’s where the focus is until the lights go out.

XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

Gene: Bullets And Octane has always been a very straightforward, completely real raw, and live band still using amps. We don’t use computers at least at the moment lol it’s just a straight-up rock band with two guitars and bass drums. A lot of vocals, a lot of attitude. But in specifics, there is Marshalls orange, amplifiers, Les Paul’s do you know the whole thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it lol.

XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?

Gene: Man oh man I don’t want to sound like a bitter human being, but I’m not really sure what the scene is exactly at the moment. Everything seems to be chaotically all over the place and more people are focused on their own personal social media, followers, and likes. Although in different countries, there seem to be still that hard-core rock ‘n’ roll fanatics that support all things rock ‘n’ roll at any level. So I’m not exactly sure what is the scene at the moment, but I’ll let you know when I find it lol.

XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know

about you?

Gene: once again off the top of my head, I would answer the question by saying that my views on making music performing it writing it recording it has always been about the songs being most important meaning that it doesn’t have to be genre-based specific. I would much rather put a song on the album that is extremely good, but may not be full-blown bullets rock ‘n’ roll. I think that’s what keeps musicians doing things for such a long time especially when the money isn’t where it needs to be you definitely got to be doing stuff for the love and passion of the song itself. So as much as I love rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t really care to be stuck in one genre or another, and I hope that great songs will always prevail over style genre-based cookie cutter, making the same album over and over again. Also, I love going for long walks and enjoying sunsets. Lol.

XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

Gene: yes yes yes hello fans, future fans, looking forward to reuniting with all of you when returning to your cities or countries. And for those of you who haven’t heard of Bullets, And, Octane, welcome aboard I hope you enjoy the journey. Enjoy the ride. Please be sure to check out Bullets and Octane official Instagram and TikTok and definitely go to the Bullets YouTube channel to enjoy all the crazy and wacky new singles with our interesting music videos we can’t wait to see you in a city and country near you. Thank you so much for your time! 🤘🏼🤩🤘🏼

XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS

It’s been a pleasure, thank you

Bullets And Octane are:

Gene Louis- Vocals
Matt Dennis- bass
Clay Villain – Guitar
Aviv Cohen- Drums
Jack Cash- Guitar

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