The quintet from Phoenix, AZ specializes in coolly dark and unusual acoustic renditions of some of rock’s greatest tunes. The band’s musical approach centers around lush and eerie guitar arrangements, cinematic vocals, and a flowing rhythm section of bass and percussion. Oh and space, lots of space. Utterly unique in sound and style, Blacklight Acoustic Conspiracy craft their source material into interesting and often times very different versions of the original compositions, giving fans of the music a completely new way to listen to songs they know and love.
The band’s repertoire runs the gamut of classic rock royalty, each song given it’s own special treatment. Spaghetti western Judas Priest? Got it. Fingerpicked flamenco Scorpions? Absolutely. Creepy music box Ozzy? Ok maybe not so much of a stretch…until you hear how BAC does it! Sometimes dark and brooding, sometimes light and spacey, the depth and dynamic twists of the band’s rearrangements gives the songs a whole new feel, all with a respectful tip o’ the cap to the original artist.
One of the things that makes the Blacklight Acoustic Conspiracy tick is the immense musicianship within the band, and it’s on full display in their live performances. Vocalist Kevin Schuhmacher is a theatrically trained powerhouse with a broad range of styles, while guitarist Michael Ennis provides much of the intricate and nimble fingered guitar work that’s a staple in their rearrangements. Bassist Chris Catero (who also produces the band’s recorded music) has served low end duties for ex-Megadeth guitar god Marty Friedman and Dokken’s Wild Mick Brown amongst others, and his free flowing 70’s finger style playing pushes the bottom throughout the set. Gary Sanchez is a well respected live and studio drummer in the Phoenix music scene, and his percussion work brings a distinct latin flair to the music. Fate Taylor has been a performing and studio guitarist on both coasts as well as a sought after songwriting producer. The band traverses a wide palette of music and styles while often peppering their renditions with experimental effects, alternate tunings and thickly layered and sometimes unusual vocal harmonies.
The group had a somewhat impromptu beginning when Catero, Schuhmacher and Ennis were asked to come up an acoustic set of Ozzy/Black Sabbath songs on very short notice for a local Phoenix gig. Seeing as neither Ozzy nor Sabbath’s tunes had ever really been given an official acoustic treatment by either act the boys simply created their own versions. What the trio didn’t expect was the overwhelming reception to their unusual renditions. The gig prompted the idea that it would make for an interesting band to do the same treatment to the music of many of their other favorite artists. And BAC was born. Thereafter they recruited Sanchez and Taylor who were both in the audience that night to round out the new group.
The band has recorded and released a number of their acoustic versions, including a full length album called Rebourne of the Ozzy and Black Sabbath songs that kickstarted the band. The music can be found online at most music retailers and streaming services, and videos for every song are on YouTube.
The Story Behind The Origin of Blacklight Acoustic Conspiracy And The "Rebourne" Album
Happenstance. Opportunity. Carpe diem baby. Call it what you will, sometimes a journey begins in the strangest of ways.
The genesis of Blacklight Acoustic Conspiracy’s “Rebourne” album, along with the band itself, started when bassist Chris Catero sent out an SOS call to singer Kevin Schuhmacher and guitarist Michael Ennis to help him cover a prominent acoustic gig one of his other bands was forced to cancel on short notice. Catero, a veteran of the Phoenix rock scene (including serving bass duties for ex-Megadeth guitar god Marty Friedman and Dokken’s Wild Mick Brown), had been recruited by Schuhmacher a year earlier for his casino Ozzy Osbourne tribute I Don’t Know. Catero figured if the boys were up for it they could easily throw together tunes from their set and do the gig. The only hitch was Ozzy had never done all acoustic anything so they’d have to get a bit creative with how they approached the songs. That’s when things got interesting…
Catero and Ennis quickly got together to create some arrangements and realized from the get go they were on to something much cooler than either had expected. Instead of simply playing the songs as-is on an acoustic they started organically riffing on different ways to create a more uniquely acoustic vibe, and in the process took the songs in a whole new direction. Convention duly abandoned, the fresh parts and arrangements moved Schuhmacher (a big voiced vocal belter with a background in theatre) to tap into his wide range of vocal stylings, lending a captivating and haunting quality to the new versions of the songs. A rapid couple days of rewritings/rehearsals produced organic kismet. The audience reaction at the gig was overwhelming, and that night unbeknownst to anyone a new band was born.
So it’s appropriate the band’s first length album offering, Rebourne, was a collection of many of the Ozzy renditions performed that first night. And it’s creation served as the catalyst for the act to form. “We had such a huge reaction, and so many people asked if we had an album of the songs. It was very apparent we were onto something special,” says Schuhmacher. “Originally we thought maybe this was something we’d just add to the I Don’t Know show, but once we decided to do an album and got into the recording process we realized there was a really cool creative chemistry between us all that went way beyond just that tribute act. This was a whole new band, and that opened up all sorts of interesting ideas as to what we could do on a lot of different levels. It was in it’s infancy in that moment but it’s still the same process today with all the various song rearrangements we do now.”
The album was produced by Catero, a partner in ex-Guns N’ Roses/Great White manager Alan Niven’s legendary Stravinski Brothers production company. Recorded over the course of a few months at Catero’s studio, the boys took the time to naturally develop the songs further and in turn created the band’s real direction.
“None of us really knew what we were going to record beyond the basic ideas each time we went into the studio,” adds Ennis. “As a guitarist there’s just some things that don’t exactly translate well from electric to acoustic and you have to get creative in how to approach everything. A big part of the fun was making it up as we went, and there were a lot of ideas recorded right then and there on the spot. So every time someone put their parts down it was a little like listening to the songs brand new again as no one really knew what the next guy up was going to record for sure! In the end all of our ideas just organically worked together really well which was super cool. And of course later on you’d have to go back and remember what it was you actually recorded right then and there!”
“This was one of the most collaborative, fun and interesting albums I’ve ever been a part of, both as a player and producer,” says Catero. “We’re all massive fans of the music to begin with, so to take these classic, iconic songs we grew up on and creatively reconstruct them in a really different way was a big labor of love for all of us. Everything was fair game to be reinterpreted - arrangements, parts, whatever - while at the same time paying a bit of homage to the original tunes. It really felt more like doing an album of original songs, only you’re handed a basic framework to create within. Sometimes the songs ended up going in some really unexpected directions, even to us! And as a producer it was exciting to record and mix something so naturally organic and of-the-moment, and then incorporate interesting elements in the production. Hopefully we’re giving other fans of the music an interesting new way to listen to songs they’ve heard for years. And in making this album we really honed in on what the band’s direction has now come to be. As it is with every song we give the BAC treatment to, it’s just a blast to do it!”