"It's sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Those are our languages. We probably speak those better than we do English": Why The Bites might herald the return of the good-time Hollywood party band

The Bites
(Image credit: Robert John)

Being a new, high-octane rock’n’roll band in Los Angeles has its challenges. Tearing through the city’s smallest clubs and bars, crammed onto stages the size of postage stamps, is not for the faint-hearted. Especially when there are five band members to factor in. The Bites have tasted this many times – and they love it. 

In a city full of trend chasers, The Bites are injecting the present with the fun of the past, qualities that keep the 80s an enduringly golden age. The rush of Van Halen. The horn-dog swagger of Guns N’ Roses. Ingredients that fuel debut album Squeeze – the title track of which (innuendo-heavy, albeit devoid of actual ‘bad words’) was banned on UK radio for being too provocative. 

“It’s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll,” Tyler drawls. “Those are our languages. We probably speak those better than we do English.” 

There’s some posturing in that statement, but the thrills of rock’s glory days leap out of Squeeze. So full of bravado they even introduce themselves, like big shots, in single Do Me A Favour, The Bites have the confidence to sell this stuff to punters of all ages. The high harmonies and irresistible guitars of Love Affair and Cold Clean Lady could have come from Def Leppard’s Hysteria or Permanent Vacation-era Aerosmith, while glam-blues boogies like Good Love and Do Me A Favour sound like Status Quo with bigger hair. 

“They’re all my heroes,” Tyler says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them. But at the end of the day it’s us having fun, whether it rings true today or it speaks a bit more towards what was going on in the seventies and eighties. We’re just doing it because we love it.”

Growing up in Chicago with divorced parents, Tyler spent a lot of time in the back seats of cars listening to rock radio. 

“I’d go: ‘Dad, who’s this?’ He’d go: ‘Led Zeppelin.’ ‘Cool. What’s the song name?’ ‘Black Dog.’ ‘Who’s singing?’ ‘Robert Plant…’” he remembers. “It was fascinating to me. I learned more and more.” 

Soon after, he started playing guitar and writing “garbage” songs. In his teens he met drummer Mark Hylander. The two friends wound up in Hollywood by 2017 and started The Bites, initially a more Stones-y prospect. 

“Then Mark and I started writing more, the pandemic hit, and we had this monster album. That’s when the new era of The Bites started; a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more gutsy.” 

Fast-forward to 2021, and their single Knockin’ On The Door caught the attention of Earache Records. Now, with the album just released, they have their sights back on their first love: playing live. 

“Honestly, we just want to tour. We want to play with our heroes, we want to sell out our own tours. [Live] everything’s a little faster. Everything’s a little louder. And it’s just fun. That’s why the five of us are here.”

Squeeze is out on now via Earache Records.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.