Bib and The Love of the Evil Riff | Feature Interview

If you find yourself at a Bib concert, you can expect a certain atmosphere. Almost everyone wears all black outfits. People sweatily headbang. Gyroscopic mosh pits open up and swirl like black holes. Cheap beer and well shots travel down many listeners’ gullets. They are gatherings of punk metal freaks in the psychedelic experimental underground.

Bib is hardcore, after all, one of a few hardcore punk bands in Omaha to gain significant traction from a small and sometimes insular musical environment. The screeching yells of vocalist Nathan Ma and riff-laden mosh-conscious music pounding like war drums create a constant aggro mood, powering and focusing anger into songs that barely pass a minute in length.

“We love writing mosh parts,” says drummer Billy Liebermann. “That’s like our favorite fucking thing. On the newer Bib stuff is like some mega monster mosh.”

photo by Adam LaRose

Bib is among the hardest working bands in town, covering a lot of ground in a short history. In 2015 they burst out of the gate with an untitled demo tape followed by a string of touring. And it doesn’t seem keen to slow down. The band recently packed four Omaha shows into 12 days, set between coming home from Dumb Fest in Springfield, Ill., and a 5 day Canadian tour in the middle of next month, then followed by Pü Fest in St. Louis.

The band also plans to release a new 7-inch in September called POP, sticking to the short palindromic style of naming. Right after, they’re going on a two-week West Coast tour they’re currently booking.

Canada must have felt the breeze of their tour van, because the self-pressed demo netted them a deal with Canadian punk label Deranged Records, which has also released records of other acts well regarded in modern punk like Red Dons, Neighborhood Brats, Institute and White Lung.

Guitarist Brock Stephens says they got the deal through a cold call email from label owner Gordon Dufresne, who wanted to release new material from Bib. The band was still working on material, so Deranged pressed the demo cassette onto a 7-inch record that the label website says officially comes out July 1. Though they plan to sell most of their records on tour, the band has put a limited number of the demo records in at Almost Music, which recently relocated to the Blackstone area near 40th and Farnam.

The members of Bib certainly have their hands in many bowls. Stephens is also in Lincoln hardcore band Bent Life, three other members are in Nathan Ma and the Rosettes and drummer BIlly Liebermann has been in so many bands it takes him a minute to remember them all. All six members are in at least one other project. So what is it holding them together as Bib?

“What I think it all is actually based in is the love of the evil riff,” says Liebermann, before listing a history of bands that he says honor the distinction, including black metal band Hellhammer and hardcore punk acts Black Flag and Minor Threat.

“We’re very influenced by Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, even early Mayhem,” Liebermann jovially acknowledges. “When you listen to those bands, and then listen to Bib, you realise we are actually just playing Darkthrone riffs.”

When the band goes on tour, people tell them how intense and masculine they sound — how dark and evil. However, the band doesn’t really understand when fans call them macho or aggressive, says guitarist Jon Cobb. Other bands they consider peers are more discordant, heavier, or more confrontational than Bib.

“To me, when I’m writing songs, I think this is a pop kind of riff,” Cobb says, sincerely. “I’m writing, thinking everyone is gonna think that we’re wimps. I think there are things that are unique and different, and that’s what I focus on more than trying to do a moshy, heavy band. I think it sounds light.”

photo by Adam LaRose

One other principle that holds the band together is their desire to make Omaha a punk hotspot. When they go on tour they are always telling people to come to town, acting as ambassadors, in a way.

Cobb says isolated midwestern towns breed their own styles of music that don’t necessarily find influence from established patterns like those from Los Angeles or New York City. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’re it, and you have to develop your own sense of taste.  

Bib wants to help connect these pockets of unknown bands to Omaha. And in order to get major bands come to your little city, the only solution is to start your own band, or six.

“We are interested in bringing attention to Omaha because it is cool,” Cobb says. “There’s a lot of really honest things going on, and that’s where the best music is.”

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Catch Bib July 24 at Milk Run with Toronto’s The Brain, Kansas City band Warm Bodies and Omaha’s Lush Bruise Crew. The band also opens for Bent Life’s LP release July 29 with Weekend Nachos and Spine. RSVP here and here, respectively.