Under the Influence

There's method to Avail's anarchy

Barry, known for his exploits as an avid freight-train hopper, less so as a classical music fan and set builder/production assistant for the Richmond Ballet, is a man of contradictions. "He's a tremendously layered person," says Thompson. "Tim is a guy who's both super into politics and then at the same time, he's down to sit on his porch and drink beer with the local rednecks that live in his neighborhood and come by and kick it and talk about just bullshit."

Bassist Gwomper!, for his part, has a talent for getting arrested -- check out www.availavail.com for photos of apprehensions in progress. "His ability to navigate through sort-of bureaucratic structures and generally follow any kind of rules is pretty limited," says Thompson, who describes guitarist Banks as "the hardworking family dude."

And then there's Beau Beau, who looks and acts like he was just kicked out of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. As official cheerleader, his duties include manic onstage dancing and backup vocals. "It was sort of like he always hung out with the band, and one day it just morphed into this thing where he ended up being on the stage, and that's been the deal ever since," says Thompson. "He's a full member of the band."

Ahead of their time: The members of Avail have helped steer hardcore in a new direction.
Ahead of their time: The members of Avail have helped steer hardcore in a new direction.

Not every band has a tatted-up male go-go dancer, but then again, few bands make music so much about being alive as Avail. And Beau Beau is Avail's human live wire. "The Beau Beau factor could definitely be a source of confusion," says Thompson, cracking up. "One that remains confusing to people to this day."

"You can look at our crowds and be confused, too," says Barry. "The guy with the Mohawk and the studded belt, missing his front tooth. And then there's the crusty punk with his bedroll. And then there's the dude in the Dave Matthews Band hat and khakis, who's a professional. We're looking out to a crowd of people from 20 to almost 40 years old, and they're all gettin' down. That's as confusing as we are, I guess. I'm confused by it all. But I'm not confused by how we all feel at the end of the night."

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