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Pray for the Soul of Betty interview- May 2005

New York’s original Pray for the Soul of Betty have necromanced a musical style that has long been warped into sometimes-indistinguishable offshoots and subcultures. This not-so-generic gem? None other than straight-up rock.

            From the victim-turned-conscious-rebel spirit of “Truck Stop Sally” to the classic bad-boy attitude of “Drift,” the lyrics combine with irresistible melody lines to accompany the parameters of basic rock with the brilliance of attitude, charisma, and exceptional musicianship.

            Said single “Truck Stop Sally” even received a spot among the elite 1500 in the Billboard 12th Annual World Song contest. Speaking about this accomplishment with Betty bassist Taylor C.R., his response makes it clear that the group members, including Joao Joya on guitar and Hamboussi on the skins, have remained grounded in light of this award and others, including selling #2 in music on before the new album was released on May 10.

            “It’s pretty cool,” Taylor comments, “but the fans mean even more. We value them over an industry-given award. The fans have been beyond positive.”

He continues, “I feel like a doctor saving lives. When someone comes up to you and explains that they were suicidal and your music helped them get through it, that’s an amazing feeling.”

Did you know that Pray for the Soul of Betty’s lead vocalist Constantine Maroulis recently appeared on the hit FOX reality contest American Idol? Although he was a top-ten finalist on the show, his bandmate assures that the national singing icon is still “same old Constantine.”

“At first, I was totally against it,” Taylor offers, “but it ended up helping Constantine and the band. [The success] enabled us to release the album on a mass scale, and we’ve certainly gained female fans!”

Ah, the fans. A mass mob of die-hard Bettyists who have followed the band from small clubs in the beginning to esteemed locales such as the Viper Room and other major city venues now. This loyal fanbase has followed the group through highs and lows, helping the band achieve the fruits of stardom and touring success.

One particularly memorable “jam session” took place right here in merry old Pittsburgh. The night before a show at the Hard Rock Café in Station Square, the quartet ventured into the basement of the Shadow Lounge.

Upon arrival, they quickly learned that they were the only rock act on that night’s hip-hop oriented roster. A surprise? Yes. An obstacle? No way.

“We jammed with R&B and rap artists for hours!” Taylor recalls warmly. “We had one guitar, and we just kept passing it around.” They even dismantled the drum set so everyone could influence the beat. “That’s probably my fondest memory in Pittsburgh,” he decides.

Another particularly memorable experience for the band came recently after years of perseverance. Pray for the Soul of Betty signed a long-awaited contract with KOCH, an NYC-based company, who could assist their self-owned Baby Julius Productions mass-distribute the album.

The group’s debut full-length, the self-titled “Pray for the Soul of Betty,” has been an encouraging proponent towards the band’s existence thus far. “It’s amazing,” Taylor explains. “It’s what we’ve all been working towards, you know? With 30,000 copies already sold and 55,000 in stores, it’s such a great feeling.”

“We like to keep it positive,” he concludes. “Music isn’t mutually exclusive!”