Four Boys Playing Music: An Afternoon with 4BPM

Written by Laura Oviedo-Guzman

My journalistic efforts to interview local talent seem underpinned by a spidey sense. It’s like I can detect when bands will take a break or break up. Luckily, I got to sit down with the members of 4BPM before a hiatus. Read on to learn more about their origins, inspiration, and aspirations.

4BPM is a four-piece band from Lethbridge, Alberta, with Jeremy Collier on drums, Donovan Martinez pulling double duty on vocals and lead guitar, Malcolm Campbell on rhythm guitar, and Owen Meyer (“like the weiners,” he says as he spells his last name for me) on vocals. According to their Bandcamp description, they are a punk band. According to their live performances and the groups who inspire them, they bring in elements from screamo and post-hardcore.

On Their Name

The first time I heard this group live, I thought, why are they called four beats per minute if they’re playing so fast? I had to clear my confusion with them during our time together. During a grade 11 shop class at Chinook High School, Collier and Campbell would share doom metal songs on the computer. “The teacher never made us do anything,” reminisces Collier. “We would be like, ‘they’re playing so slow, and there are so many people who think this is sick,'” Collier continues. As time passed, they talked about creating their doom metal band, calling it 4BPM and playing four beats per minute to satirize the slow playing that characterizes this subgenre. Now, they play at neck-breaking speed, “nowhere near doom metal,” as they put it.

I ask these guys what their name means, and I’m told it means nothing. “Nothing,” I repeat. I’m met with Martinez’s disclosure that “BPM” doesn’t really stand for anything before Collier chimes in to remind me it stands for “beats per minute.” Of course! Although the band denies any actual meaning, this hasn’t stopped some people from trying to assign meaning to the acronym. Here are the two reported meanings, plus their authors:

  • “Broccoli, parmesan, mozzarella,” coined by the group’s drummer during a show with Pomeranian Fight Club when asked what their name meant.
  • “Boys playing music,” coined by someone’s mom.

The boys affirm that their name is an oxymoron and an inside joke.

The last anecdote they tell me about their name involves the frontman of the hardcore punk band After a show at the Commonwealth in Calgary, one of the four boys got to talking with frontman Anthony DiDio and shared their band name. Upon hearing the name “4BPM,” DiDio said, “four beats per minute? That’s a sick name ’cause you’re, like, dead.”

On Their Sound and Influences

To date, the most concise and romantic response to the question “how would you describe your sound” has been delivered by drummer Jeremy Collier. “Lethbridge is our sound,” he says. “It’s like you’re in a windstorm, cussing out how much you hate it,” he shares before including phrases like “fucking disgusting,” “bitchy, complaining, angry”, to describe what our city sounds like. Although the band clowns his initial concept by demanding that his words get blown up and highlighted when this article comes out, they supply other ways Lethbridge has influenced their sound. Some local influences include Pomeranian Fight Club, low-fi psych rock group Facecut, and now-defunct dream pop quintuple Bunny Eyes.

Other sources of inspiration for this group include the LA-based post-hardcore group Touché Amoré, specifically Jeremy Bolm, who Meyer cites as his idol for screaming. For Collier, he gleans inspiration from Rage Against the Machine, Nomeansno, and “technically Metallica,” although he’s reticent on saying it because it’s not a “cool answer.” He’s an avid browser of the hardcore punk archive Hate5six. Martinez shares that he loves Alexisonfire and Midwest emo group Dogleg. He takes cues from Jimmy Page and Dallas Green for his performances. Campbell also sources inspiration from Metallica, the Ramones in their “15 songs in 15 minutes” era, and, surprising to me, DJ sets. He appreciates that “[DJs] aren’t there for you to listen to their top songs; they’re there to create the party […] the atmosphere.”

All band members agreed that they look for material that they haven’t heard before or that pushes their limits as musicians. 

On Their Hiatus

4BPM’s last show (for now!) occurred on October 1st, 2022, at Theoretically Brewing. Drummer Jeremy Collier has decided to cross the pond and spend time in England “until [his] money runs out.” But he’ll be back for sure.

When questioned about what the absence of their drummer implies for their group, 4BPM shared they could try to find a new drummer to fill in during Collier’s absence, but it wouldn’t work. This generalized incompatibility exists for two reasons. Firstly, Collier is one of the primary songwriters, so the group might struggle to put out material that feels like their sound. Secondly, friendship. Although they could indeed find another drummer, no amount of technical ability is a substitute for the chemistry that imbues their work and is responsible for their energetic and infectious stage presence. The group plans to “write a bunch of songs” they will perform when reuniting.

On The Future

The ultimate goal for 4BPM is to continue playing live and to get people to dance at their shows. They don’t want to be the “prettiest, little baby, post-hardcore band of all time.” They want to create Lethbridge’s best mosh pit every night. Taking a page out of the Ramones’ book, they want to record “a bunch of 2-minute original songs” with interludes full of sloppy drum fills and Meyer’s face-tearing screaming that breaks you into their next song. This aligns with their notion that their recorded material is nothing more than an invitation to come see them live and experience how their songs are really played—”four times as fast than on the recording,” tells me. Meyer sustains this claim by stating that he has never screamed the same lyrics twice when performing ProBowl, an original piece from their Jam Block Demo EP. They summarize their vision by affirming, “we’re not in a band to make albums; we’re in a band to play live.”

Shout out to:

  • Matt Rederburg from CKXU, who mixed their newest EP
  • Populess and Boarderline
  • Michelle, Meyer’s mom, and Joanne, Collier’s mom, for letting 4BPM jam
  • Moms, in general
  • Local businesses
  • Dante with the beautiful hair
  • Kat Moss from the band Scowl

4BPM’s Attic Sounds were released on November 1st, 2022. Find it on Bandcamp and Spotify.

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