The Cathartic Beats of Bishops
Martinsburg’s Bishops writes rock songs with a catchy, smart simplicity.
Photographed by Jordan Hudkins
Martinsburg’s Bishops writes rock songs with a catchy, smart simplicity. They’re familiar sounding, yet refreshing, and you aren’t quite sure what the band will do next. The new Feel Alive EP has an ebb and flow that reels you in, hooks you quietly with a wistful vibe, and then speeds up and gets your head bobbing. It’s a pleasant ride that you’ll be glad you took. The vocal melodies, guitar riffs, and lyrics—especially on “I Wanna Marry Rock And Roll” and “When Will I Die?”—are certain to linger in your head.
Feel Alive and Bishops’ 2012 self-titled release solidify this duo as a band that isn’t afraid to take risks—whether five or 500 fans dig it. “Music has really been the best therapy for me throughout my life. Personally, I write songs for me, so I never get bent out of shape if a ton of people don’t like what I’m doing. Writing songs is my personal medication, and if someone else can hear them and relate and say, ‘Right on, I get that,’ then that’s just an added bonus for me,” says Tucker Riggleman, guitarist, singer, and songwriter of Bishops. Tucker also plays bass in The Demon Beat and Prison Book Club. The two driving forces of Bishops are Tucker and Paul Cogle of ALT 40 and Black Blizzard. The Demon Beat’s Jordan Hudkins also performs with Bishops at live gigs.
Tucker and Paul met when The Demon Beat played a local show with Paul’s old band The Echo Connects. In 2011, they talked about some demos Tucker wanted to record and one thing led to another. Tucker writes all Bishops’ songs, and self-records demos of him singing and playing acoustic guitar. Then, he and Paul build the songs up into a fuller arrangement and re-record at Paul’s studio in Falling Waters. “They rarely end up sounding like my original demos—mainly due to all of the awesome contributions that Paul adds during this process. Paul is such a genuine person and so well-respected in the West Virginia music community that I kind of assumed we would hit it off, but I honestly had no idea that things would go as smoothly as they did,” Tucker says.
Bishops recorded the Feel Alive EP in four months over the course of five sessions about two to three hours each. Paul says it takes Bishops a little longer to record because he doesn’t use a computer in his studio and still uses a form of tape to record. “It’s funny. Tucker and I will talk and he’ll say, ‘I got nothing.’ Then, two days later, I’ll get three demo songs he recorded in the last five hours. Then, we go from there [asking ourselves], ‘What’s the song about? Where is it taking us? Where do we want to take it?’” Paul says.
Tucker says he doesn’t labor too much over creating Bishops songs and they come together swiftly. Rarely does he go back and change a lyric. Though Feel Alive was just released, he already has another album’s worth of songs ready to demo and then record with Paul. He says, “Most songs happen very quickly, in a manner of minutes, and then I’m rushing to write down what I just did so I don’t forget it all. It’s a pretty strange, cathartic thing. It’s my way of coping with things outside of my control.”
Feel Alive is available at Bishops gigs and also for download at bishops.bandcamp.com.
See Bishops live:
Friday, March 22, 2013, Church St. Pub, Frederick, Maryland
Saturday, March 23, 2013, with Billy Matheny and the Frustrations and Goodwolf, Gene’s Beer Garden, Morgantown
Friday, March 29, 2013, Opera House Live, Shepherdstown
Saturday, April 6, 2013, with Tucker solo, Songwriter Night with Bud Carroll, Brian Porterfield, Haley Slagle, and more, McClafferty’s Irish Pub, Morgantown
Saturday, April 20, 2013, Chester Records, Winchester, Virginia