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articles and interviews featuring Bitesize

Bitesize reviews and previews from 2003
Bitesize reviews and previews from 2002
Bitesize reviews and previews from 2001
Bitesize reviews and previews from 2000
Bitesize reviews and previews from 1999
Bitesize reviews and previews from 1998
Bitesize reviews and previews from 1997

West Coast Performer – November 2002
bitesize: big evil
words by Mike Henry, photos by Mariah Robertson

“I saw Sting in some movie recently. It made me want to kill him.”

To someone unfamiliar with the band Bitesize, an off-hand comment by drummer Steve Lefevre about killing Sting might seem like idle, albeit homicidal, chatter. But those who have had the pleasure of spending time with the band recognize it as more than that. It is a reference not only to one of the band’s latest punk-pop gems “I Killed Sting,” but also a kind of band mantra. This band really hates Sting. And though they may say it (as writers are fond of saying) with tongue planted firmly in cheek, make no mistake, they also mean it with dagger planted firmly in chest. “I stabbed him in the lung / While he was doing yoga,” guitarist/vocalist Julie Serano sings joyously, “I asked him if it stung / He just grunted like Abe Vigoda.”

Sound evil? Good. That’s exactly what Bitesize is going for. “Our next record is going to be called ‘Evil,’” explains bassist/vocalist Leslie Harrison. And Serano, an aficionado of the infamous Norwegian black metal scene, adds, “Bitesize is officially going in the black metal direction now. Because we feel like we’ve successfully conquered pop and now we’re moving on.” And with those words, the members of Bitesize launch into one of their frequent, loopy digressions, barely able to speak over each other’s laughter. For a band that met through musician wanted ads in Bay Area newspapers, Bitesize is remarkably familial, like they’ve known each other all their lives. And on this afternoon, they crack each other up with an in-depth discussion of the subtle differences between black metal, death metal, thrash, grindcore and sludge. Not to mention an early description of their own sound: “evil twee.”

“Well, we were a pop band and we were dabbling in evil. That’s when we were evil twee.” Serano explains. Harrison completes her thought for her, “But now we’re totally committed. We’re just evil.” Once again, the three bandmates erupt with laughter.

You may be asking how evil manifests itself in pop music. Clearly, you haven’t heard Bitesize’s latest CD, The Sophomore Slump. Twenty songs (in roughly 40 minutes) of ecstatic post-punk-proto-pop that is as sweet as death-by-chocolate, catchy as hell, and more fun than a barrel full of those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. Call and response verses and roaring choruses feature Harrison’s honey-dripping vocals vs. Serano’s carnival barker-on-helium hollers. And Julie’s chunky, hook-laden riffs bounce like magic eight balls over the frenetic heavy metal landscape of Lefevre and Harrison’s stop-start rhythm section. In short, the ‘Size sound like cuddlecore played by the Manson Family. Evil Twee.

But what’s it all about? “A number of the lyrics on Sophomore Slump are about freaky adolescence,” Serano explains. This time, Lefevre finishes her thought. “Like ‘Father Figure.’ The uncomfortable feeling of seeing your father at an Ozzy Osbourne show.”

“That song is about being so god-awfully embarrassed that your father is at the same show as you,” Serano adds. “Or the song ‘Bees Knees,’ which is right out of Morrissey-style patheticness. Like ‘You’re so much better than I am.’ Or ‘Unadulterated,’ which is about the standard typical student-teacher love affair.”

Lefevre nods approvingly and adds, “It’s just all kinds of uncomfortable stuff. Life…” He pauses dramatically, before sighing, “Life can be uncomfortable.” And after another pregnant pause, he and his bandmates are laughing yet again.

While teenage angst might not strike you as an atypical pop subject, Bitesize songs do tend to have less traditional themes throughout. Most notably, transgender issues. And they know whereof they speak. You see, Julie Serano used to be Tom Serano. About a year ago Julie began transitioning from male to female, finally revealing to her friends a long held secret that she was transgendered. But the other Bitsesizers knew before anyone else, and the experience has made them that much closer.”

None of us really knew what would happen,” says Serano, whose bandmates describe the situation as a “social experiment.” “I know of bands that have transsexual members, but none where they made the change midstream. To be honest we didn’t know what would happen, and basically what has happened is people who know have been totally cool with it.” Not that there weren’t clues. Their first record, the brilliant Best of Bitesize, is peppered with references to sexual ambiguity and confusion. So earlier this year, when they played their song Switch Hitter, which features the line “A year from now I’ll be the center of attention/After I have had my sex change operation,” on UC Berkeley’s radio station, their long-time friend and KALX DJ Ricardo Esway dead-panned, “All these years and I never knew these songs were true.”

“Granted, 90% of our shows are in the Bay Area,” Serano continues. “But when we play other places and people find out, they’re cool. Other people just don’t know. Even though there might be clues, people don’t think to think about that. Either we’re playing in front of people who have no idea and assume I’m female, or people who know already and they’ve all been OK about it. I think the main thing is that we mostly play to indie rock audiences, and indie people aren’t usually the type to walk around with baseball bats looking to beat up certain types of people.”

“You don’t see many roving gangs of emo thugs,” Lefevre offers.

“That would be something,” says Serano. “To be chased down the street by a bunch of college radio DJs.”

“I was a little worried,” admits Harrison. “We live in a bubble here in the Bay Area. I was afraid that people would glom onto Julie’s transition, and that would be the focus more than the music. But at the same time I thought it was a cool thing and I wanted to enjoy it.” Serano clarifies, “Leslie was worried we would become a transsexual rock band, but instead we’ve just become evil.”

So that’s Bitesize: an evil pop combo with a transsexual guitarist that can’t seem to take anything seriously. Including their own… umm… eccentricities. At one point, when Lefevre removes his shirt to show off the Gashlycrumb Tinies tattoos that cover his entire back, Harrison goads him, “Whip it out… like you used to.” To which Lefevre offers the feeble defense: “I pull my penis out once at a party and I hear about it the rest of my life.” [Note to Steve: That’s pretty much how it goes.]

But to hear them talk, they’re just another Bay Area band, with the same concerns as everyone else. Like touring. “We have the same issues that everyone who’s in a band that isn’t just out of high school has,” says Serano. “We love to tour. But everyone has jobs. At this point we’re not in a position to tour for half a year. Nothing really rock starrish.”

Harrison brings up another concern about going on the road, “Everyone would get sick of each other. We’ve learned that we can spend a week together before we hate each other.” But a week is plenty of time for Bitesize to hit the west coast mainstays, like Seattle, Portland, Olympia, or down to L.A.

“One of the benefits of being in the Bay Area and touring the northwest,” explains Serano, “is that we have all these really good friends who, a couple years ago, got really crazy and moved up to Portland and Seattle. So we go up and hang out with our friends during the day, and at night we play a show.”

“That’s what it’s all about,” Harrison concurs. “Hanging out with friends.”

“Obviously there’s no buses and trucks and stuff,” continues Serano. “It’s not really business-like.”

“Well, we’re as business-like as we can be,” says Lefevre, clearly not wanting to paint the band in a bad light.

“Yeah, we have our crate of merchandise and we get to the show on time,” says Serano. “But the rest of the day we’re not at record stores signing record covers.”

“I think the only hard part is maintaining a positive attitude,” adds Lefevre. “Because one night will be really great, you’ll have a fun show, and then the next night: nothin’.”

“I think that’s pretty typical for most of the bands we know,” inserts Harrison. “And in L.A., everyone goes out to smoke if you’re not the band that they know.”

“The only bad experience I’ve had, was during the time when I was in between [male and female],” says Serano. “Someone in the audience was very disturbed because he couldn’t figure out if I was a boy or a girl. And he came to the front of the stage and just kind of pointed at me. And then he walked to the back and yelled something out. I said ‘What did you say?’ And he said, ‘I was just trying to figure out if you had tits or not.’ And then he said ‘Too bad’ because he figured I was a boy. I said, ‘Just because you’re attracted to me doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a man.’”

“But as for our musical experiences,” Serano goes on, “The only noticeable change, as far as audience response goes, has been that we always got a lot of comparisons to the Pixies in the past, and now we’re getting more Breeders comparisons.”

The band has another dynamic that many musicians will be familiar with: equipment geek vs. couldn’t-care-less. ”I’m the only gearhead of the bunch,” says Lefevre. “Once a week I’m in a drum shop, and getting catalogues, drum magazines. I’m just that into playing drums. I enjoy being a drummer. I enjoy reading about what other drummers are doing.”

Not so with Serano and Harrison. “The only time Leslie and I tune is just before we actually play,” laughs Serano. “And then we’ll go like three weeks without tuning.”

“We’re equipment luddites,” adds Harrison.

“As far as equipment goes, I know what I like and I have stuff that gets the sound I want and that’s all I know,” says Serano. “But we want to get to the point where on the back of our albums we actually thank corporations. We’d like to thank Fender, Zildjian, Tama, and Jagermeister.” Once again any serious conversation has gone out the window.

And so after an interview in which things aren’t always as they seem, Bitesize finally offers an uncharacteristic confession. “We called our first record the Best of Bitesize, and the second one Sophomore Slump,” Serano says guiltily. “And we didn’t know where to take that joke for the third one. So next we’re doing Evil.”

But a final question remains. Will Evil really sound evil?

“They’ll be Bitesize songs,” says Serano, looking at Harrison for corroboration.

“There may be a hidden track,” Leslie admits. “But we can only get so far away from ourselves.”

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bEASTfest 2002 Program Guide

Bitesize is in a class by itself. The band finds itself genre-less, a band without a country, in most Bay area music scenes. They've been compared to a diverse mix of bands such as The Pixies, They Might Be Giants, Sleater-Kinney, P.E.E., Superchunk, and The Butchies, yet they don't sound like any of those. Probably the best way to describe the band is by imagining those ridiculously catchy children's songs (you know, the ones you sang in the back of the station-wagon to drive your parents crazy) on steroids. Bitesize crams all that sugary goodness with the speed and recklessness of your average punk song, clocking in under two minutes, guitars screeching the whole way. Their back and forth vocal harmonies are deceiving. A glance at a Bitesize lyric sheet will astound you, with tales of little all-stars considering sex change surgery, fantasies about murdering rock starts, and pony-people fetish love stories. The lyrics are not dumbed down due to the unusual content - indeed Bitesize has some of the smartest lyrics in Bay Area rock today. The band (along with Blevin Blechtum and Gravy Train!!!) plans to sex you up at bEASTfest's tribute to sex, Thursday, Dec. 12th. Don't forget the lube!

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Splendid E-zine featured review 4/30/2002

The Bitesize kids are a confident bunch -- cocky, even. Naming an album Sophomore Slump is the sort of self-aware, self-indulgent folly that backfires on nine bands out of ten.

Fortunately, Bitesize are the one band in ten who can pull it off.

On the surface, however, there's nothing all that special about them. They're a fairly standard guitar/bass/drums trio, specializing in short-and-sweet punk-pop songs that sound -- inasmuch as such a thing is possible -- like the Pixies would sound if they took a bunch of ecstasy and cut an album for Fat Wreck Chords. Bitesize use the same tools as everybody else; it just happens that they get completely different results.

The first thing you'll notice is the vocals. They're almost always a dual attack, pairing bassist Leslie's honey-sweet croon with guitarist Serano's snide, nasal Carrot Top/Fred Schneider-style proclamations -- and it's a winning combination, to say the least. Although they most often work a call-and-response pattern ("Surprise Ending", "Bed and Breakfast", etc) or split verses and choruses, they're also capable of creating enticing harmonies (see "Speed Demon"'s chorus in particular). Unlike most vocalists, they also take full advantage of their limitations, playing their more discordant vocal interactions to interesting effect (see "Pre-Med", "Proverbial Old Guy" and others). Neither Serano nor Leslie stay on key consistently; Leslie does a more powerful take on bog-standard indie-pop sweetness, while Serano comes across like a caffeine-buzzed emo vocalist with a sense of humor.

Singing skills ultimately take a back seat to diction and enunciation. Bitesize have a fondness for intelligent-but-obnoxious lyrics, and their cleverly-turned phrases are crisp, intelligible and unexpected. "Pre-med", for example, dares to rhyme "x-rays" with "protégés", while "Greta Garbo" mixes relationship talk with sociopolitical commentary: "You could be my Margaret Thatcher / and I'll be your Pinochet / you can loan me lots of money / if I promise to behave." Even when the words aren't drop-dead funny, they're interesting -- like Wire, Bitesize use language as much for its rhythmic value as for storytelling, and their percussive verbiage will quickly batter its way into your head.

The music is serviceable stuff -- fast-paced, melodic and heavily rhythmic. It's not as rigid as a lot of So-Cal punk stuff, but it's easily as catchy. There's only so much you can do with one guitar, one bass and a drum kit, but the band strives to keep the sound upbeat, punchy and a little bit rude; it's as if they're clowning to get your attention. Other than occasional extras -- a xylophone here, a bit of stunt playing (i.e. playing the ultra-taut, trebly part of the guitar where the strings leave the fretboard and attach to the tuning pegs) there, the tunes are surprisingly straightforward -- businesslike, even. Because Bitesize seem to take a more holistic approach to songwriting, their music becomes a little more special when the vocals are added -- and, accordingly, diminishes a bit when considered on its own.

Clocking in at just under forty minutes, Sophomore Slump effectively triples Bitesize's recorded output (their debut, 1999's Best of, was a more succinct 20:00 and change). Ironically, this long-windedness might one day be their downfall. As previously mentioned, there's only so much you can do with guitar, bass and drums -- and while the band's sound is relatively unusual, it gets a little long in the tooth after the thirty-minute mark. There are still surprises, but once you've sussed the Bitesize formula, it becomes a little too easy to anticipate the next sing-song verse or call-and-response chorus. We're not at the dawn of the CD era any more; it's okay, if not downright trendy, to make a thirty-minute album, and nobody will think less of you if you do. The trick, after all, is to leave us wanting more...

However, even if it ultimately reveals the limits of Bitesize's pop-punk formula, Sophomore Slump is terrific -- a must-have disc for summer rabble-rousing, not to mention a much-needed injection of creativity in a dangerously stale genre. I just hope that the band will remember the meaning of their name when they start to think about album number three. -- George Zahora

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UC Berkeley's KALX (90.7 FM) Spring 1999 Program Guide:
by Jason Smith

This interview by Jason "JJ" Smith took place in March of 1999 and first appeared in UC Berkeley's KALX (90.7 FM) Spring 1999 Program Guide.

The first time I saw Bitesize was a total accident. I was at the Bottom of the Hill to see another band and little did I know, the show I was at was the record release party for Bitesize's debut EP More Songs About Cars and Body Parts. When Bitesize took the stage and started blowing through their set (most of their songs clock in at about a minute and a half) I was simply amazed. In no time I was involuntarily bobbing up and down to each song and smiling a really big smile. Here was a band that played super-catchy fast quirky noisy pop songs just the way any pop-whore likes it. I was in heaven. This trio which includes Tom Serano on Guitar, Leslie Harrison on Bass, and Steve LeFevre on drums puts on a really high energy (Tom almost spends more time in the air than on the floor) fun show which should not be missed. I caught up with the Bitesize Gang recently and had a chance to ask them a few questions. Here's what they had to say for themselves.

JJ: Let's start off with a brief history of the band, when did you start, how did you meet?

Tom: We met in a very fascinating way through musician wanted ads in papers . . .

JJ: Like a personals ad?

Tom: Kinda like personal ads for musicians . . . like personal ads but worse (laughing).

JJ: Are you guys the original line-up that answered the add, or were there others who weren't successful in making the cut?

Tom: Oh we had some not so successful people (laughter) . . .

JJ: Give me some examples.

Tom: Well basically what happened was I met Leslie through the ad first.

Leslie: Lucky me.

Tom: Yes, and lucky me. So we basically we met and started working on some songs and then we started looking for drummers . . .

JJ: Always the hardest part

Leslie: Uh oh . . .

JJ: . . . Did you find Steve right off the bat?

Tom: Steve was not right off the bat. No, we played with a number of drum whores for awhile, people who would say "oh I'm really into your band, but I'm going away on tour with my other band for a couple of weeks, but when I get back we'll work on some songs".

JJ: Then some of them probably exploded and then you finally settled on Steve over here?

Tom: Yes, several exploded, some choked on vomit, and there were some gardening accidents, the whole nine yards, and then we met Steve.

JJ: That sort of thing happens . . .

Steve: I'm band whore number 38.

JJ: Tell me a little about your music. I'm wondering, when you make music, is it all a part of some well crafted plan or is this just what we get when we throw the three of you in a room together?

Leslie: A little of both.

JJ: Would you care to elaborate on that?

Leslie: Half the time we come up with songs out of jams and then the other half of the time Tom comes up them and brings them in and we try to figure out what the hell we're doing.

Tom: Yes (Everyone laughing). Are you asking whether we decided before we started playing that we were gonna be this kind of a band?

JJ: Well, I've probably heard more than one person use The Pixies as a reference when trying to describe your music . . .

Leslie: We don't mind that! (laughter)

JJ: Did you guys have a preconceived notion of what kind of music you wanted to make or did it just fall into place?

Tom: Well, kind of. You have bands that you like a lot, and we met through ads also because of citing those favorite bands that we all liked, but mostly it's seeing other bands and you kind of know what works and what doesn't, and it's kind of what comes together. Mostly we like catchy songs and energy and stuff.

Leslie: Tom, he has weird subject material and that's always . . . interesting (laughter). "What's this one about Tom?"; It's always a nice little story.

JJ: Your Lyrics, on the surface, kind of seem like nonsense (laughter all around) . . .

Tom: . . . Thanks . . .

JJ: . . . but a close listen quickly reveals that they're well thought out and crafted. Who's writing them and what kind of process do you go through to come up with those unique Bitesize lyrics?

Steve: Well, they won't let me write lyrics anymore.

JJ: And why is that?

Steve: They sucked.

Tom: Ever since that song about child molestation . . .(lots of laughter all around)

Leslie: Tom really likes to ask people what they think the lyrics are, and if it's better than what he wrote, then sometimes he'll use those (laughter).

Tom: It's the best way to write lyrics.

Steve: Tom will write the lyrics, he'll come up with something, sing it a little bit, and say "hmmmm, what did you think of that word", he's always looking for these really exotic words. He likes to go off certain words, sometimes he'll pick out a word and he'll go from there . . .

Leslie: . . . He'll make a whole song out of a word!

JJ: Well, there seem to be some reoccurring themes in your songs . . .

Tom: Uh-oh . . .

JJ: I was wondering if you might want to identify some of those and comment on them? (lot's of Bitesize laughter)

Leslie: You can have the floor Tom.

Tom: Okay, pick one.

JJ: I thought you might ask that . . . Sexual identity, hermaphrodites, sex change operations?

Leslie: Hermaphrodites are underrepresented in pop hits today . . .

Tom: Yeah, so I just think about things that all of us can relate to.

Editorial note: They saw this next question coming a mile away and started laughing before I could even ask the question.

JJ: And how is it that you relate to hermaphrodites and sex change operations? (Laughter all around)

Leslie: Tom?

Steve: What would Freud say about that?

Tom: What would Freud say about that? I think there's something deeper there . . . yeah. (more laughter). There are other themes in the songs . . .

JJ: What are some of the other themes?

Tom: Like cars and body parts and we also have a lot of food references in our songs.

Steve: Yes! Yes!

Tom: More than probably most bands, and food is one the best things that all of us do every single day.

Steve: Ya' know ya' need food to live.

JJ: Eatin' and Shittin', eatin' and shitti'.

Tom: Totally.

Jason: One of the best things about Bitesize is the energy you bring to the stage. Most other bands have the "cool-factor" to contend with and just can't do it. What's your trick, share your stage secrets with KALX.

Leslie: We respect our own inner dork.

Tom: Yes. The thing is, what's so cool about just standing on stage not moving . . . what's cool about that?

JJ: Nothing?

Tom: Exactly! So there.

Steve: I just play the drums.

Leslie: He has lots of hair and it moves around all different ways . . .

JJ: And it's been rumored Steve, that quite possibly, based upon how hard you rock out, that you worship the devil. Is there any truth to this rumor?

Steve: Yeah, it's true, it's all true.

JJ: That's good to know, because I know that you are a recovering Mormon. How's the progress in your recovery? (lots of laughter all around)

Steve: I just changed from one devil to another.

Tom: Oooh, that's getting too profound for this interview.

Leslie: Yeah, that's pretty heavy.

Steve: I'm sorry.

JJ: Leslie, although you've never been a statue on stage, you've recently developed more of a stage presence, where's this coming from?

Leslie: I've been drinking more lately (laughter all around) and I've also been watching my friend Erica (from Heavy Pebble) and she moves a whole lot, and she's like a sex goddess to me, so I wanted to emulate her. It's all to get boys.

JJ: And judging by your last show, it's working!

Leslie: Awwwwwwwww.

Tom: That's why Steve and I move around on stage a lot too.

Leslie: I just want to know about my G.B.G. population (Girl Band Geek).

JJ: You recorded your first EP More Songs About Cars and Body Parts with Greg Freeman and now you're back in the studio with him recording your next record, can you tell us a little something about this next release?

Tom: Okay, basically we recorded 10 songs with Greg and we're actually going to be mixing them next weekend. So It's going to be called The Best of Bitesize, it's going to have all of our best songs on it.

Leslie: It's all about our career retrospective.

JJ: And when is this album slated for release?

Leslie: When we can figure out how to use photoshop (laughter all around)

Tom: I think we can get it out in the three month span that is called the summer.

Leslie: Yeah, I think so, I'm really excited about it, it'll be really good, we're very happy with it.

JJ: And you guys are releasing that yourselves?

Tom and Steve: (in unison) Yeah, on our own record label (lots of laughter)
JJ: Packing Heat?

Leslie: Packing Heat, you know what that means . . .

The More Songs About Cars and Body Parts EP, out on the Packing Heat label, is available from the band at their shows, at Mod Lang Amoeba in the East Bay and Aquarius and Mission Records (and maybe Amoeba SF too) in the City and is also available on the internet by going to www.tweekitten.com. Morning after singles of Bitesize are for sale at www.unicyclerecords.com.

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the SnackCake!/Devil in the Woods
official Noise Pop 1999 Program Guide:

BITESIZE - by Tim Scanlin

Watching the members of Bitesize plow through a recent set at San Francisco's Paradise Lounge, I was struck by the sheer energy and enthusiasm emanating from the stage. "Here's a band that really loves what they do," I thought. Specifically, what Bitesize do is play loud, fast, noisy pop songs, with little regard for how their music might be perceived by the Indie Hip Gestapo.

Let's face it, in 1999 it's no longer acceptable to simply ROCK. Everyone seems to be so bent on out-cooling each other that venues are starting to resemble morgues, not rock shows. {Case in point: the recent Promise Ring/Jets to Brazil show at Bottom of the Hill. Will you people please lighten up?} However, with Bitesize, which includes singer/guitarist Tom Serano, bassist Leslie Harrison, and drummer Steve Lefevre, you get rock and plenty of it. "Leslie and I listen to a lot of Pavement and Superchunk," Serano tells me over the phone from his Oakland apartment. "We write catchy pop songs that tend to be a little bit weird and fast and upbeat. There's a little bit of quirkiness and weirdness in the lyrics." Serano's words are borne out on the band's debut EP More Songs About Cars and Body Parts, released on their own Packing Heat label. "You said,'What difference does it make who ate that bottle of aspirin?'" he sings on "Headache Baby Yeah!",over an uppity beat. "But this is only the tip of the ice berg/it's the straw that broke my spine!"

The band recently recorded 10 songs with local engineer Greg Freeman. They plan to release them as a full-length album within a few months, either by themselves or on an established label. Until then, the trio-which has only been playing out for 5 months-will continue to win over crowds with its disarming stage banter and kinetic shows. "The two things that we try to concentrate on are writing really catchy songs and putting on really energetic shows," Tom tells me. "We like to entertain people." Now if only people would let themselves be entertained.

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SPLENDID E-ZINE Week of December 6, 1999 Bitesize / The Best of Bitesize / Packing Heat (CD)
The Best of Bitesize is only twenty minutes long. It looks like it's thirty minutes, but that's because of some sneaky hidden-track action. Naughty Bitesize.
It is, however, twenty of the best minutes of music I've heard all year. Bitesize makes brashy, noisy, skewed retro-punk-pop of the Pixies-on-crank variety -- they pack more hooks and more energy into ninety seconds than many bands can fit on an entire album. Give the lyrical pen of guitarist/vocalist Tom Serano plenty of credit -- he's got a flair for creating mundane-yet-brilliant choruses that work perfectly with the band's new-wavey guitar rhythm. You'll find yourself bouncing around, babbling lines like "I need a cigarette..." (from "Cold Turkey") and "I'm a hermaphrodite, but that's beside the point" (from the utterly perfect disc closer, "I Forgot My Mantra") because they've buried themselves so deep in your head. Please make certain nobody else is around if you're going to mutter about being a hermaphrodite, because rumor is a terrible thing.
I'm torn here -- I really wish Best of... was longer, but it's perfect as it is. It's kind of scary to think that it takes as long to play the entire Bitesize album as it does to listen to one Godspeed You Black Emperor song, but it all comes down to economies of scale...and on the "short song" market, Bitesize is priceless.
-- George Zahora

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Satellite Magazine, October 1999: "Take a Bite of Bitesize" by Ashray Shah
If you ever turn on the radio and feel that what you're listening to makes you gag, its a good indication that you need to try something a little more Bitesize. This poppy East Bay trio caters precisely to the new ADD generation-their songs all fall short of the three minute mark. Bitesize's songs fail in only one respect: their brevity leaves you unfulfilled and wanting to hear more. It's as if you took a bite of the best pizza you've ever had, only to watch it slip from your hands and fall to the ground: you're still hungry, but happy you had the chance to take a bite. The concise songs seem more like a clever ploy by the band to hook their listeners, but then again, what else can you expect from a band called Bitesize? Even though their songs end by the time you make minute-rice, their peppy tunes and odd lyrics will be embedded in your psyche and stay their indefinitely.
Bitesize met in 1996 and started performing their unique brand of pop-rock locally in 1997. The band consists of Leslie Harrison (bass/vocals), Tom Serano (guitar/vocals), and Steve Lefevre (drums). From 1998 to 1999, the band broadened its fan base by playing larger shows at prominent San Francisco nightclubs (Bottom of the Hill and The Paradise Lounge) and music festivals ('98 & "99 North-by-Northwest Music Festivals, 1999 SF Noise Pop Festival. In September, they exposed themselves (or should I say their music) to UC Berkeley.
In the fall of 1998, Bitesize recorded four songs, stuck them on a 7-inch, and called it "More Songs About Cars and Body Parts." They released the vinyl on their own record label, Packing Heat Records. The four-song 7-inch received airplay on local college radio stations, including Berkeley's KALX. Bitesize released their first full-length feature album in August, "The Best of Bitesize," which is pretty short by industry standards. The album is cleverly disguised as a career retrospective, and consists of ten songs of pure energy.
The album opens with the amusing "Sugar Car." It is difficult not to smile when you hear lyrics like, "My car runs on sugar" and "I'm rich and you're bitchin'/Take a ride in my sugar car sugar car." From the start, it seems that Serano also runs on sugar, as if he's had too many Jolts and doughnuts. While Serano spews out energy, Lefevre and Harrison provide a solid backing that holds the songs together. The energy does not wane anywhere in the album as the threesome continue with "Tarot Cards." The third song, "Theme Park," gives us a chance to hear Harrison do lead vocals. Her voice alternates between calm, low-pitched verse and sweet, high-pitched siren-esque chant. "Switch Hitter" involves sex changes and baseball. Don't ask. In "Hand Wash Cold," there is a cool play on the words "memory" and "remember." Try repeating the words over and over, and see how one melts into the other. The final song,"I Forgot My Mantra," is a catchy tune that will leave you singing, "I'm a hemaphrodite, but that's beside the point." Scared? Maybe you should be, but the odd lyrics make for catchy tunes. With their wide variations in style, Bitesize is indie-Pop at its finest.
Bitesize is currently playing in support of its new album, "The Best of Bitesize," which is available at numerous Bay area record stores including Amoeba and Mod Lang, and at www.bitesize.net. Call up your favorite radio station and request songs by Bitesize-and if don't have the new Bitesize album, tell them to get it!

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Ink19, January 2003

by Julio Diaz
2002 was the year that sucked all my writing time away.
Try as I might, I could find little time to get any writing done. It was my least productive writing year since joining Ink 19 in 1997. I'd get a record and get excited about it, but by the time I finished handling the day job, Ink 19 administrative and editorial duties, and the all-important family time, well... a guy does have to sleep sometime!
But I was still listening...
From the stacks of records, I selected 19 that really moved me this year. Many of these are receiving their first coverage in Ink 19 with this list, for which I apologize, because they all deserved a lot more attention. And that's putting aside scores of other deserving records that didn't make the list, including efforts from John Doe, Nik Kershaw, Trio Mocotó, Frank Black & the Catholics, The Wontons, Bis, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Neil Finn, The Toasters, MU330, Interpol, The Distillers, Ursula 1000, and others that will sadly get naught but a token mention here, plus several others that came out late in the year that are still fair game to review early in 2003.
One of my New Year's Resolutions has been to do more writing this year. This article is the start of that, and I've been realigning some editorial priorities to allow more writing time this year. Self-indulgent? Perhaps. But one of the main reasons I got into this is to tell people about great music (and comics, and movies, and books, etc.), and it's something that still makes me very happy.
So without further adieu, here's my 19 favorite full-length discs of 2002, counted down Casey Kasem style, naturallly.
...7. Bitesize, Sophomore Slump, (Packing Heat!)
When we first heard Ween, circa Pure Guava, my friends and I called them "the evil They Might Be Giants." If that's the case, then Bitesize are the bastard offspring of the union of the two, conceived during a drunken encounter while The Pixies' Doolittle played at a volume of 10. Sophomore Slump then, is the most mistitled record on this list, as it's filled with raucous, catchy indie rock and often blackly comic subject matter, an irresistible combination.

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Maximum Rock N Roll
September 2002 #232
Ray Lujan's Top 10 of the month
Bitesize - "Sophomore Slump" CD
This local band puts out a strong second full length here. A quirky release that brings to mind PIXIES, PEE, and even ATOM & HIS PACKAGE. Great vocal play between the guy/girl vocals. Twenty infectious ditties that overflow with enthusiasm and spirit on a pop level. Not so much for the hardcores but twisted punky pop fans will enjoy this. (RL)

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AOL digitalcity.com
Bitesize
Next: 5/17, 10PM;
The Stork Club
2330 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94607
510-444-6174

If you canít stand a Bitesize song, donít fret - itíll be over soon. The groupís standard pop ditty lasts less time than it takes to melt Junior Mints over microwave popcorn. The unitís latest release ëSophomore Slumpí packs twenty upbeat tracks in a scant 39 minutes chock full of noise, melody and prominent bass. Enthusiastic trade-off vocals sound like a classic Elton John and Kiki Dee duet hopped up on trucker speed and yelped into spit-soaked microphones. The band exudes a purist aesthetic not often seen since the dawn of the alternative-rock era. In addition to the 100% gleeful abandon, Bitesize engages the listener with a unique perspective and agitated twist on subject matter like sex toys, gender bending and role switching back to Shakespeareís time. Bitesize provides a sugar-fix like those candy miniatures from which they took their name, but itís the one from last Easter with a tad of gritty gray decomposition around the edges. The group mixes just enough contamination with the fizzy indie pop to keep it interesting and a bit off. -- Leigh Anne Lewis

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the 19th Annual Folsom Street Fair (Program Guide)
September 29, 2002
Bitesize
Silly, sex-positive and self-assured, Bitesize brings a little bit of sickness to indie rock, filling their otherwise perfect pop gems with awkward stops and starts, weird bursts of guitar noise and quirky, comical vocals. The band sings with gleeful abandon about genderqueers, SM, three-ways, sex toys, masturbation, having sex with new surgically-reconstructed genitals! Bitesize's second self-released CD is Sophomore Slump.

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pergormermag august02
Bitesize - Sophomore
Slump
Recorded, mixed, and mastered at
Tiny Telephone, San Francisco, CA
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by
John Croslin
Reviewer -Mike Henry
When you're singing about transsexual understudies, flaming ice cream
trucks, and kissing old guys, you can pretty much expect to be saddled with
the modifier “quirky.” It is certain that Bitesize knows this. They've certainly
heard it before. But underneath all the eccentricities of their second full-length
CD, Sophomore Slump, Bitesize demonstrates why their eclectic brand of
noise pop transcends its own wackiness. Simply put: hooks are hooks, and
Sophomore Slump is loaded with them. On songs, “Bath Tub Orgasm,”
“Speed Demon,” and “Proverbial Old Guy,” Julia Serano and Leslie Harrison
spend the verses co-narrating their crazy tales before converging on
shout-along choruses so impossibly catchy you'll think you've known them all
your life. Harrison's hypnotic, melodic bass lines are songs in themselves and
one will find themselves singing along with them as much as the lyrics, that is,
when not feebly attempting to bash an invisible drum kit. Props go out to
Steve “Speed” LeFevre for ignoring the fact that he's in a pop band and
keeping the heavy metal torch burning bright. Then there are Serano's
equally-hooky guitar parts, which occasionally strike one as sort of un-guitarish
(yeah, that's a word), alternating between saxophony squawks and DJ-like
scratches before launching into the meat-and-potatoes tones of each power
pop chorus. But it is in their Xacto-sharp lyrics that Bitesize truly rise above
their post-punk contemporaries. Witness the tender side of adolescent angst
in “Bee's Knees” versus its crawl-into-a-hole counterpart in “Father Figure.” Or
compare the savage, but hummable vitriol of “Chicken Shit” to the bouncy
you-and-me-babe sentiments of “Strapped For Cash,” and you'll see that
Bitesize can turn just about any emotion into two minutes of... (Okay, let's say
it)...quirky fun. Highly recommended.

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Shredding Paper Bitesize-"Sophomore Slump"CD 20/38:49 Nice title. Of course it's a joke, as it's their second CD, and it's no slump! Mixing the unconventional hooks of the Pixies or They Might Be Giants with a whole lot of distorted guitar noise and the high pitched whine(I mean that in a nice way!) of primary singer Serano, this sugary blast of pop is absolutely endearing without having any regard for what's hip or cool. You can't help but tap your feet to the simple pop beats while the rest of the music goes off in a different direction. You can't help but laugh at the occasional crack in Serano's voice, or at the lyrics, which tackle subjects like the bathtub orgasm, or being in love and saying I'll be your Pinochet if you'll be my Margaret Thatcher. Hilarious and fun, this is just the kind of music that would make Stimpy from Ren and Stimpy run amok and make his head explode. Steve @www.bitesize.net (MP3s available)

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babysue/LMNOP April 2002 http://www.babysue.com/LMNOP-Reviews-April-02.html#anchor398303 Bitesize - Sophomore Slump (CD, Packing Heat!, Pop/rock) For anyone who ever loved the music of The Fastbacks or The Pixies...Bitesize is sure to be a welcome new contender in the ring. Bitesize tunes are just that. The band's short and succinct songs are slightly spastic and feature male and female tradeoff vocals. The band's super catchy ditties are characterized by a decidedly skewed sense of humor, and this is obvious from the song titles. Fans of underground pop/rock are almost certain to love odd little numbers like "Father Figure," "Chicken Shit," "Press Junket," and "Proverbial Old Guy." If you're looking for upbeat fun played with direct style and intent, Bitesize are almost certain to fill the bill... (Rating: 4++)

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http://www.powerpop.org/shakeitup/reviews/bitesize2.htm
Bitesize
Sophomore Slump - (Packing Heat)
Bitesize up the ante on Sophomore Slump (also showing a sense in humour even in the title, with their previous debut effort called The Best Of Bitesize) by offering twenty tracks of buzz-saw punk-pop that is superior to most of what passes within the genre.
Rather than simply embrace the "brat-core" movement, Bitesize revels in a self deprecating humour and youthful anxiety. What that amounts to in Sophomore Slump is a soundtrack for misfits, outcasts, and people who just plain don't fit in. Bitesize comes by this honestly, by way of Julia Serano's lyrics (formerly Tom Serano - check out http://www.bitesize.net for details).
The end result are tracks like the gratifying "so there!" of Surprise Ending, the embarrassment behind Father Figure (about seeing your dad at the Ozzy Osbourne show - shudder!), and the hilarious BTO (Bath Tub Orgasm, that is). All are delivered around hooky guitars and Julia and Leslie's (first names only, please) vocal harmonies and counterparts. Tracks like Unadulterated feature the vocal tag-team perfectly, but know that the two always sound a little "off". Frankly, that's the charm here - especially when you combine it with the bands uncanny ability to find a song's melodic centre. Sometimes it turns into an addictive singalong as with Double Knots, while elsewhere we have fist-waving supercharged power poppers like Speed Demon. All of this is often done under the two-minute mark.
Sophomore Slump - indeed not.
(* * * out of 5)
Claudio Sossi
September 2002

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Roctober #33 Summer 2002
Bitesize - Sophomore Slump
Mormally quirky indie pop weirdo songs where the vocalist is doing an Urkel impersonation would not rate high on my Not-Suck-O-Meter, but this is actually pretty fucking great. Everything sounds funny and when the nerd voice and the girl voice sing together it's very dynamic and the humor is genuine and original. BUT all the songs are not strained jokes, but rather honest, real-seeming stories of oddness with often a twisted or sad or disturbing edge. Worth biting.

Ink 19
http://columns.ink19.com/outsight/jazzitup
Bitesize
Sophomore Slump
Packing Heat, POB 16218, Oakland, CA 94610
bitesize@yahoo.com
Bitesize is a punk-y power pop trio stylistically marked by the peppy vocals of Leslie Harrison (bass, also) and Julie Serano (guitar as well). It all sounds so saccharine on the surface, but underneath it is dark and somewhat twisted. Bitesize self-styles this approach as "evil twee" as a label for the mature core to their teen-sounding alt-rock. Having started in 1997, the group has grown into a less outrageous version of Butt Trumpet on their sophomore release of one-and-a-half-minute songs. (3) -Thomas Schulte (Outsight)

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Geek America
http://www.geekamerica.com/reviews/music/07-15-02.shtml
Bitesize
"sophomore slump" CD
Grade: B
Okay, this is an interesting one. Quirky pop/snot rock with dual vocals. Leslie has the sweet vocals that with just a little bit of work would be flawless. On the other hand, Serano has the whiny vocals that require a generous ear, the type of stuff i could have easily digested in high school. The press pack doesn't focus at all on this, because i'm sure they want to focus on the music, but it's absolutely amazing, so i have to make note of it: Serano is in fact transgendered, and in the process of becoming a woman. I find it amazing that she is so open about the process... at least on the website. The music is upfront, and often throws you off with unexpected lyrics, often witty enough to make me laugh with lines like "i'm not a medical student, but i know my way around a body". This is all clever work, but possibly more fascinating is the people behind the music. I'm going to keep my eye on this band. (BGW)
packing heat

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http://actionmanmagazine.com/index2.html
Bitesize
Sophomore Slump
(Packing Heat)
by - Julie "Binky The Doormat" Devroy
Well, this is just plain silly. Here we have twenty songs, apparently classified as “evil twee,” performed by a girl, a guy, and another guy who either thinks he’s a girl or wants the operation. Bitesize are quirky to the point that no one is likely to take them seriously. That’s probably just fine with them; any band who names their songs “Bath Tub Orgasm” and “Chicken Shit” is most likely having too much fun (or too many drinks) to actually care what anyone thinks of them.
Musically, Bitesize are fairly straightforward, happy punk-pop, falling somewhere between the Selby Tigers and some of Teenbeat Records’ more rockin’ bands. It’s when Leslie Harrison and Tom (Julia) Serano open their mouths that the silliness begins. “Surprise Ending” kicks off with Harrison deadpanning lyrics like “he made a comment about her behind” with Serano responding “it was fine, it was fine, it was fine, yeah.” Next up, in “Understudy,” they harmonize about how they “will put the shake in Shakespeare…put the ham in Hamlet.” It keeps going like this -- 20 silly pop songs with some of the wackiest lines in indie rock.
Bitesize could fill the same sort of need for rock fans as Atom & His Package or the Moldy Peaches. They could be the record a self-important punk rock / indie rock fan pops in at a party for two or three songs, just long enough to turn around and say to his/her friends, “Listen to this! It’s so weird!” Then it’ll probably get set aside once some humorless partygoer gets up and pops in some “real music.” If Bitesize wanted to, however, they could probably win over enough fun-loving rock funs to be taken seriously. I just don’t picture that among their list of goals.

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Urban View 10-03-01
Funny their new CD should be called Sophomore Slump, because it’s a cheery nostalgia for those early high school years I feel when I listen to Bitesize. It’s most likely their ‘80s alt-pop sound that rouses the carefree bounce reminiscent of organized dances, but I like to think that it has more to do with the just-long-enough-to-enjoy-without-being-annoyed track lengths combined with clever lyrics. “I see you all the time/down at the record store/I get my seven inches there/and I can’t help but stare/I pay with pennies so? I can spend some time with you...” the trio wails in “Bath-Tub Orgasm.” It’s quick and quippy and somehow touches that oh, so cool, yet painfully insecure high school ego still lingering in all of us. More-rock-less-pop Fluke Starbucker and Baby Carrot open. Sat/6, 10pm. The Stork Club.

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Urban View 4-4-01
excerpt from a review of the Mr. O Show
...Finally, Bitesize relieved the pain. The trio’s un stoppable pop was enough to snap me out of the spell Mr. O’s minion’s had cast. Playing the short, sweet, uptempo noise they are known for, Leslie Harrison (bass and vocals), Steve “Speed” LeFevre (drums) and Tom Serano (guitar, vocals and jumping) rekindled my faith in the miraculous healing power of pop. They made their abbreviated set up of mostly new material, due out on an album sometime this summer.

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http://www.thehotsix.com/kickbright/rr/2000.html Bitesize The Best of Bitesize CD "i think that you're great. let's go on a date." Bitesize are the equilvent of a rocket science experiment with explosive results. Every song is punchy, quick and obscenely jumpy. I love this! They could have not made a better record. The lyrics are sweet and humorous with a rather lock-jawed bite. They go from sweet crushes to songs about kicking butt. Just about every song, like "Cold Turkey" and "Theme Park", are memorable and get stuck in my head all day long. They boy/girl vocals are sweet. This is totally amazingly fun and it comes highly recommeded. Reference: Mr. T Experience, Nerf Herder. Packing Heat Records. PO Box 13833. Berkley, CA 94712. Bitesize webpage.

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this review appeared in babysue and LMNOP, May 2000 Bitesize - The Best of Bitesize (CD, Packing Heat!, Pop/rock)
Instantly LOVABLE. It takes a lot to really hit our prannie where it needs to be hit, but Bitesize nailed the goddamn bull's eye on first listen. Playing humorous, succinct, anxious pop rock the way it oughta be played, this band reminds us in many ways of the much overlooked Lazy (from the 1990s). The tradeoff male and female vocals keep things interesting...but it is ultimately the songs themselves that are the draw here. Fresh, young, slightly sloppy, and simple...these tunes are the tasty pudding produced by a band that possesses the genuine excitement of making music. Top faves in this campground are "Sugar Car," "Switch Hitter," and "Yellow Belt"...but all the tunes are actually rather great. Many lyrics had us giggling up a storm. College radio should be going NUTS over this band. We SHO izz! Salute to Bitesize. They is Major FUN FUN (!). Der webb site she izz http://www.bitesize.net.
(Rating: 4)

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East Bay Express, December 8 - 14, 2000 KIRBY GRIPS, DEALERSHIP, BITESIZE, LUNCHBOX, and THE BLAST ROCKS!
At the Stork Club, Oakland, Saturday, December 2
By Mo McFeely
The Blast Rocks! kicked off the bEASTfest Saturday-night showcase at the Stork Club like Pop Rocks and RC Cola. Playing to the sparse crowd that was clearly there to see them, the trio delivered some screamy, good-time pop punk. Whatís not to love about songs called "My Boyfriend is a Zombie" and "Donít Wake the Neighbors" played with frenetic joy on a low-slung Casiotone MT-11 and a drum kit consisting of a forty-gallon trash barrel, a glass bottle, and a coffee can in the middle of a trash heap?
Fans of Dressy Bessy, Kincaid, and the rest of the Kindercore clan will find a friend in Lunchbox. However, not everyone has a taste for sugary retro-pop, as illustrated by the not-so-drunk someone who called out, "Iím not drunk enough to like you yet!" At which time lead singer Tim Brown graciously offered the heckler part of his beer. But the comment seemed to put a damper on the moodñthe usually lighthearted "bop-bi-dahs" they were singing lacked bop.
Bitesizeís two-minute bursts of hook-heavy noise pop were infectious enough to warrant a quarantine. Saturday, they opened with "B.T.O." an homage to sponsor Good Vibrationsí "waterdancer." Named after bathtub orgasms, the song should logically have been titled "B.O." though one can see how that might be misconstrued. The bandís between-song banter about "back-to-the-crotch rock" prompted a girl next to me to ask her friend, "Did he just say ëback-to-the-crotch rot?í" Again, not something about which most would want to hear a songñunless, perhaps, it was sung by Britney Spears.
To much woohooing and shouts of "Rock!," Dealership took the stage. Woohoo is right. Like many in the Bay Area, I have been charmed by their drowsy, fuzzy buzzydom. The trio swung through a quick forty minutes of more pop than noise, full of lovely boy-girl harmonies and guitar squall. When the crowd demanded an encore, the band came back with "Green," an Imperial Teen-style rocker about a first kiss. The chorus: "puke breath/ French kiss."
The Kirby Grips (British for bobby pins) closed out the evening with style: Drummer Michelle Kappel took time to don pink fairy wings (which well matched her hot pants) before sitting down behind the kit. If one were to mix Bikini Kill, Nancy Sinatra, Cadallaca, and the Shangri-Las with some tchotchkes and Chanel No. 5 in a thigh-high leather boot, it would sound like these three girls. After five hours of moxie rock, the evening wound up like a ball of aluminum foil so big and shiny as to make you call over to your friends, "Hey, look at this big shiny ball, isnít it neat?"

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Skyway (www.skywayzine.com) 2000 #9
Best of Bitesize review
“My car runs on sugar,” announces guitarist Tom Serano in the first moments of “Sugar Car,” the opening song on Bitesize’s debut album (the “Best of” thing is a joke). Judging from the energetic ultra-catchy pogo-pop tunes that fill this record, generally clocking in at around two minutes each, it wouldn’t be surprising if sugar was the band’s secret weapon as well. Serano and bassist Leslie Harrison trade off sweetly snide vocals in a manner that brings to mind the late great Seattle indie-pop band Incredible Force of Junior, while drummer Steve LeFevre manages to keep the rapid beat all the while. Slyly creative references to vampires and voodoo dolls midgets in pants suits, hermaphrodites, and the struggle to quit smoking just zip right past as “Best Of” rushes through its half-hour hook-and-chorus showcase, leading to countless bemused examinations of the lyric sheet. Any band that can maintain such a great sense of humor without coming off as a joke themselves certainly deserves some respect. And that’s on top of the fact that Bitesize consistently writes wonderful songs.

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Slide the Needle, April 2000 BITESIZE "the best of..." CD (Packing Heat!)
Don't let this band fool you in thinking they've been around and released a bunch of releases...for, "the best of...", is Bitesize's 1st full cd. What we have here is a band from Berkeley, CA doing Berkeley styled pop-punk. Actually it's like as if the Pixies decided to get together and do pop-punk done well. The songs are short and straight to the point (most of the songs are under 2 mins.!). This band has all the right pop hooks and punches to make great pop songs. At the end you also get a silly interview that had me laughing so this is just all fun. A definite A+ in my book. (JK)

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UnSealed Ezine, April 2000 Bitesize - The Best of...Bitesize...So Far
(Packing Heat)
SF three-piece This is the debut album from Bitesize, a SF trio known far and wide for their self-described "reckless pop tunes" and quirky lyrics. To paraphrase from one of their songs: "they're bitchin." Lyrics such as "She's a watersign and I'm an asshole" had me chuckling out loud and their brand of enregetic pop topped with boy/girl vocals had my interest peaked throughout the album. For fans of quirky pop, this is one to check out.
- Kim Callahan

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Summer*Salts, April 2000 BITESIZE - the best of (cd)
No matter how much I try, I don't think I could dislike this band. They pump out these perfect little pop nuggets that, on average, clock in at less than two minutes each. I listened to the first few songs before I left my room one day and consequently had them in my head for the next two hours. Each song darts from influence to influence; a little bit of Pixies, a hint of the Misfits, and a touch of Imperial Teen to top it all off. So it's not the most original thing you've ever heard, but can you deny lyrics like "you best get out of in front of me or else I'll have to karate you"? How about "take a look at my headgear / knock you down"? That's right, you can't, and neither can I. I'm not even going to bother describing individual songs because they'd be over before I could finish this sentence. If you like your pop in short bursts with a heavy dose of punk rock, then let Bitesize be your new best friendÖor I'll karate you.
Plus: this stuff takes catchy to a new, ridiculous level
Minus: could we get some better cover art?

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indiegeek.com, May 2000 Bitesize
Remember in high school, you found this band, and you didn't know why but you liked them. Then you discovered that whenever you played their albums, it drove your parents crazy, maybe even some of your friends, and that just made you like them that much more? You can experience that same joy all over again. Drive all your boring, stuffy friends and loved ones crazy by playing Bitesized against their will. Lots of punch, A little bubble gummy, garaunteed to cause hyperactivity in children. I had the pleasure of seeing the at Bottom of the Hill in April of 2000. They are truely adorable live. The guitarist hops around like a bunny and reminds me of a grung version of Richard Simons. Maybe not as obnoxious but just as entertaining. I couldn't sit still.
Support your local SF bands and buy their great cd.

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Aiding and Abetting, April 2000 BITESIZE
The Best of Bitesize
(Packing Heat)
Jaunty power pop trio, with much more panache than skill. The songs are full of obvious jokes and fairly stilted chord progressions. The playing and singing is, well, let's just say I recognized this as music.
For all of its drawbacks, however, Bitesize did manage to release four albums, and these are the best of the bunch (so sez the band, anyway). And I can see how these folks earned an audience. For all the flaws, this is an utterly earnest band.
There is an energy that's undeniable. From a technical standpoint, Bitesize is a nightmare. But when it comes to some kicking some ass, I'd like Bitesize in my corner any day.
Quality this ain't. But that's okay. Bitesize has more than enough attitude and fuel to even the score. Just tap in and see what develops.

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KALX 90.7 FM Program Guide, Spring 2000 Bitesize 7"
More Songs About Cars and Body Parts
(Packing Heat Label)
A very nice debut from a local trio produced by Greg Freeman. Guiitar/bass/drums with boy & girl vocals. These guys play super-catchy fast quirky noise pop songs. Try to imagine Nardwar of the Evaporators fronting a cross between the Pixies & Pee; great stuff! And they put on a very fun, high-energy live show, well worth checking out (beautiful red vinyl). -JJ

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Zero Magazine October 10-November 10, 1999: Local Music Spotlight: Bitesize
Berkeley-based Bitesize quietly began playing Bay Area clubs in 1997. By 1998, they began headlining at venues such as Bottom of the Hill and the Paradise Lounge and started showing up on various showcases--Noise Pop to name one. Earlier this year, they released their first full-length CD, 'The Best Of Bitesize' on the band's own label, Packing Heat Records. What is Bitesize? They are a noise pop trio that specializes in churning out catchy two-minute tunes characterized by their trademark boy-girl harmonies and quirky lyrics.
Both KUSF and KALX have been playying the band regularly and they recently appeared at this year's North-by-Northwest festival in Portland. The band is Leslie Harrison on bass and vocals, Tom Serano on guitar and vocals, and Steve Lefevre on drums. The band claims to be into Superchunk and Pavement but they are much poppier than either. Keep an eye out for their upcoming dates and treat yourself to their high energy, highly entertaining performances.

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East Bay Express, Sept 10 1999 Rock in a Hard Place by Sam Hurwitt
You have two oppurtunities to chew on Bitesize's sweet li'l truffles at one of two shows--for free at noon Friday at Sproul plaza on the Cal campus or for a pittance Thursday at the Plough. The Berkeley-based band's brand new debut 'The Best of Bitesize' is a charmer, if definitely bite-size itself (zooming through ten songs in twenty minutes). With clever lyrics and hook-barbed songcraft, the trio's fare is packed with a juicy filling of squealy clanking distortion, perky co-ed vocals, and maniacal melodies as catchy as any jump-rope rhyme. Imagine The Pixies forced into servitude by They Might Be Giants, and you begin to get the idea. Favorite moments: Tom Serano singing "She is a water sign and I am an asshole" in "Tarot Cards';the whole of 'I Forgot My Mantra' ("I'm a hemaphrodite but that's beside the point"); and the darling "here we go, here we go-ee-oh-ee-oh" back-up vocals to the sweetness-fueled "Sugar Car."

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Willamette Week
Official Program Guide for the North-by-Northwest Festival: NXNW 1999, Friday 12 am at Club 21
BITESIZE
Is it any wonder that Bitesize cooks up tiny songs? Weighing in at 2:58 minutes, "I Forgot My Mantra" is epic compared to the other morsels on The Best of Bitesize. The song, like the rest of them on this fakie Greatest Hits album, is a fluffy rant; silly lyrics such as, "I'm a hermaphrodite/ But that's beside the point" (Bitesize are quite the rhymers) indicate the trio's goofy irreverence. Sounding a bit like Weezer plus one chick, this Bay Area band is unrelenting in its stream of consciousness raving, as in this line from "Cold Turkey": "She sat next to me in the waiting room/I had the common cold, she had a stomach flu/ I was reading Time when she turned my way/ and said that my breath smelled like an ashtray." Right. (CM)

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Shake It Up! November 1999 BITESIZE
The Best Of Bitesize - (Packing Heat)
Screw Blink 182 and the rest of the "bratcore" contingent. You want fun? You got it in Bitesize - and it's almost more than I can stand!
Bitesize are a three-piece from Berkeley, California that load their too-short and snappy tunes with thick 'n' chunky hooks, fun lyrics, and a hyper energy that works wonderfully with the boy/girl harmonies and counterparts that appear throughout. This is sugarcoated, punk-fueled pop thinly disguised as a "best of" compilation, but could very well have been one in earnest - these songs are all top notch.
The opening Sugar Car pretty much sets the pace here ("I'm rich and you're bitchin'!") and will have you singing along with the "here-we-go-here-we-go-ee-o-ee-o"'s in no time flat. Yellow Belt is enough to make you want to pick a fight with that oversized jerk that suddenly showed up in your bar (the one that's always in your favourite chair) before realizing that "yellow" may not cut it. Everyone can relate to the chaos of Hand Wash Cold (I'm personally still paying for shrinking my wife's favourite shirt!) and hey, Switch Hitter has more ball-talk than Take Me Out To The Ballgame (more fun, too!). Then there's the seemingly random I Forgot My Mantra, which at 2:58 is the "anthem" here.
Leslie Harrison's bass and Tom Serano's guitar chug along throughout The Best Of Bitesize and drummer Steve LeFevre displays an impressive amount of energy all over this thing. Harrison and Serano spend their vocal time bouncing lines off of each other, most effectively of the driving Crash Course.
Now, we're not talking highbrow cerebral statements here - don't look for me to use words like "lush" and refer to "arrangements". This is simply three people picking up their instruments and having a good time - almost desperately yet still without an annoying "we're so irreverent" attitude.
Lighten up and you may find you NEED Bitesize - I know I do!
* * * * out of 5
Claudio Sossi

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Shredding Paper #4 (fall of 1999) Bitesize-"The Best Of..." CD 11/33:34
This band probably won't like being thought of as a novelty band, but their songs are pretty wacked out. They have a pop sensibility that reminds me of the Breeders, with light-hearted quirky lyrics that recall They Might Be Giants. I think some folks are going to go for this in a big way, although the silliness doesn't really do it for me. The boy/girl vocals work best on "Sugar Car", which is kind of like a lighter weight Pixies. I like Tom's voice, and he writes funny lyrics. I'm not a fan here, but Bitesize have a good reputation locally for their live shows. Mel

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SF Weekly
Riff Raff by Mark Athitakis
Listing Toward San Francisco Having done some hard time in the world of music journalism, Riff Raff has devoted a fair amount of effort to reading -- and sometimes compiling -- best-of lists. So we took a special interest in the Chronicle's enumeration of the "Bay Area's All-Time Best Bands," which appeared with much fanfare in the Dec. 19 pink section. Pondering the list for a while, we came to two conclusions: 1) A top 50 list would've been more honest and less embarrassing, and 2) Even Chron columnist Ken Garcia realized this.
Really, thinking of Van Morrison (ranked 19th) as a Bay Area artist is a bit like thinking of Reggie Jackson as a California Angel. Giving Eddie Money (85), Pablo Cruise (91), and Mr. Big (100) any credit -- any -- for doing something musically useful, let alone great, is being too kind. And if the list's assemblers (Joel Selvin, James Sullivan, and Neva Chonin) confess that Jefferson Starship (99) was a purveyor of "hollow, empty pop," what's so "best" about that group of hacks?
However, what's most striking about the list is that, as a catalog of what people talk about when they talk about Bay Area pop music, the Selvin-Sullivan-Chonin brain trust got it exactly right. Few local bands or musicians who have made a dent on the national scene got omitted -- though the unlisted Operation Ivy was a much better and more influential band than its listed spinoff Rancid, and alas, Night Ranger couldn't crack the top 100.
To be fair, the list does do justice to locals' contributions to punk (Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Avengers), hip hop (DJ Shadow, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Spearhead, Too Short, and Tupac, that last being questionable as a "local"), altrock (Imperial Teen, Red HousePainters, American Music Club), and wonderful weirdness (Negativland, the Residents). The question has to be asked, though: Why do the list at all? Right -- to sell newspapers, but let's think a little harder on this one. In many things, not just pop music, the Bay Area is rigorously assertive (and defensive) about its place on the worldwide scene, often to the point of absurdity. There's a tone of "Hey, we're important too!" to the list, both in its prose and in its concept. The defensive stance stems mainly from the way the Bay Area gets treated by the cultural power centers in New York and Los Angeles, which is to say, receiving condescending little pats on the head, as eager schoolchildren do when they've aced their spelling tests. Your little band charted on Gavin? Good for you! When are you going to move to L.A. and get serious? As one music industry insider infamously put it, the local rock scene suffers from an "enthusiastic mediocrity."
We trust that in saying all this, nobody will interpret us as having some sort of bad attitude toward local music -- although we confess that we've sat and stood through a whole lot of enthusiastic mediocrity from locals this year. But when it came time to sort through stacks of records and recall the good ones, we had little problem coming up with a sizable pile of local CDs we got a genuine kick out of. So, then, here are 25 we remember quite fondly, listed in no particular order:
El Stew (Om)
Mushroom, Analog Hi-Fi Surprise (Innerspace)
Joe Goldmark, All Hat -- No Cattle (HMG)
Quannum Spectrum (Quannum Projects)
Halou, We Only Love You (Bedazzled)
Matmos, The West (Deluxe)
Oranger, Doorway to Norway (Pray for Mojo)
Blackalicious, A2G EP (Quannum Projects)
Paula West, Restless (Noir)
For Stars, Windows for Stars (Future Farmer)
Tin Hat Trio, Memory Is an Elephant (Angel)
Johnny Dilks & His Visitacion Valley Boys, Acres of Heartache (HMG)
Mumble and Peg, This Ungodly Hour
Beulah, When Your Heartstrings Break (Sugar Free)
The Old Joe Clarks, Metal Shed Blues (Checkered Past)
Grandaddy, Signal to Snow Ratio EP (V2)
Joaquina, The Foam and the Mesh (Future Farmer)
Tilt, Viewers Like You (Fat Wreck Chords)
Bitesize, The Best of Bitesize (Packing Heat)
Tom Armstrong Sings Heart Songs (Carswell)
I Am Spoonbender, Teletwin (GSL)
Beth Custer, In the Broken Fields Where I Lie (self-released)
Rodriguez, Swing Like a Metronome (Devil in the Woods)
Brian and Chris (This Record Label)
Various Artists, Bay Area Rockers: San Francisco Rockabilly and Rock 'n' Roll, 1957-1960 (Ace)

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Here is an article that appeared in the SF Weekly October 6-12, 1999 issue about Tiny Telephone recording studio (where we recorded our 7-inch and CD). Bitesize gets a mention towards the end of the article!
Little Voice
In two years, John Vanderslice and his studio, Tiny Telephone, have become unlikely focal points of the local pop-rock scene
By Mark Athitakis
Last month, Tiny Telephone studio celebrated its second anniversary. Actually, there wasn't much of a celebration -- the day pretty much came and went. In fact, the place's owner, John Vanderslice, has to consult a notebook lying on a table in the control room to recall the exact date he opened it. On the inside cover of a Tintin blank book, he's written: "Tiny Telephone studio opened 9/11/97."
The notebook is a sign-in sheet for the bands that have recorded there, filled with "typical bored musician junk," as Vanderslice puts it. "But there's some great poems in here. There's funny stories." Not to mention random doodlings, scraps of lyrics, and other creative detritus. But more interestingly, the notebook has become a sort of snapshot of the local independent rock scene of the past two years: Creeper Lagoon, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Granfaloon Bus, members of Counting Crows, Dieselhed, Beulah, and Richard Buckner, among many others, have all spent time in Tiny Telephone.
The studio itself isn't much to look at. Most studios aren't -- by definition, they're simply spaces, large enough to fit musicians, instruments, and the equipment required to record them. Vanderslice jokingly calls Tiny Telephone's location a "shantytown" -- it's nestled on a Potrero Hill side street surrounded by a variety of metal-paneled buildings. Kal Spelletech's Survival Research Laboratories is nearby, along with a body shop. Heaps of car parts, in various states of rotting and rusting, clutter the parking areas around them.
Tiny Telephone started out as a co-op rehearsal space, used by a handful of local musicians, including Vanderslice and his now-defunct power-pop band MK Ultra. As other people dropped out or moved on, he looked into converting the place into a fully functioning analog studio. Borrowing some start-up funding -- "mom money," Vanderslice jokes -- he started gathering equipment, from amps to pedals to a vintage 16-track recording deck from Hyde Street Studios that, legend has it, was once owned by Beach Boy Brian Wilson. (As it happened, the deck turned out to be a bit too vintage and unwieldy, and Vanderslice has since disposed of it; it's now in the possession of local pop-rockers/Beach Boys obsessives Oranger.) The place is riddled with keyboards of all shapes and sizes and tones: a Moog, a piano, an organ that belonged to the Mommyheads, and a Hammond organ that was worth $6,400 in 1965 which Vanderslice bought from some kid for $300.
Tiny Telephone's first year was mainly about working out the kinks of managing a 1,700-square-foot recording space, assembling the right equipment, and keeping things in order. Today, Vanderslice is griping about a band that's left a $3,500 tube microphone exposed. "Humidity," he explains, placing a plastic bag over it. Later, he'll be spraying the control room with anti-static spray. The obsession with keeping things in order is a result of two things. First is Vanderslice's knowledge that recording can be an intimidating experience. "A lot of people know that I'm in a band," he explains. "They know that I've been through the whole thing, and this place is set up for convenience.
"People go [into a studio] and they're exposed. They're spending a hell of a lot of money, and they need to feel comfortable where they are. I've been in big studios spending more money than I had."
Studios are expensive; at the high-end level fees can go up to $1,000 a day, and while record labels cover recording costs, those costs are expected to be recoupable, meaning the label plans to be paid back through royalties from the resulting album's sales. In the Bay Area, there are enough big-time studios to go around: Hyde Street, Toast, and Sausalito's Record Plant all service the Third Eye Blinds, Metallicas, and R.E.M.s of the world. But smaller, more affordable spaces aren't quite as easy to come by, and San Francisco recently lost Brilliant Studios.
The other reason Vanderslice pays close attention to goings-on around the studio is that the place is starting to become successful. "Slowly, people started hearing about us," says Vanderslice. "After a year, after we had some credits and people started hearing about us. Then people from out of town started hearing about us." For those who pay attention to names in the indie-rock world, the list of those who've recorded at Tiny Telephone is impressive, including Washington cause cÈlËbre Death Cab for Cutie. The space has also attracted respected producers like Jawbox's and Burning Airlines' J. Robbins from Washington, D.C., Shellac's Bob Weston from Chicago, and Austin-based John Croslin, who played in the jangle-pop bands Zeitgeist and the Reivers, and produced one of Vanderslice's favorite records, Spoon's 1997 Soft Effects EP.
"The first time I heard Soft Effects I just went nuts," says Vanderslice. "I thought it was the best-sounding record I'd ever heard." Vanderslice was inspired to try to track Croslin down and sell him on the studio. He succeeded: Starting in January, Croslin moves to San Francisco and works as Vanderslice's partner and house engineer at Tiny Telephone. "I've been in Austin for 20 years, and I love it," says Croslin, "but it was time for a change." Adds Vanderslice: "Bringing Croslin in expands the opportunities to bring in the bands we want to record."
And that means bands that aren't just part of the local power-pop scene, though even a cursory glance at the groups that've recorded there -- and the resulting albums -- reflects some of the best rock and pop that's come out locally in the past year. Beulah's magnificent When Your Heartstrings Break is perhaps the most popular title, but there's also a fine string of EPs: Charmless' Nothing Nice Rhymes With Your Name and Oakland-based Bitesize's The Best of Bitesize, a 20-minute disc rife with perfect, perky harmonies and shimmering guitars -- an album so unapologetically immersed in goes-down-easy pop you don't so much listen to it as gum it.
"I'm a Beatles guy as opposed to a Nirvana guy," says Vanderslice. "I like heavy melodies and vocals. Whatever the dressing is underneath, I don't really care." Still, he doesn't describe himself as any sort of local rock patron, nor does he feel any particular need to promote Tiny Telephone, which is booked solid through the beginning of next year anyhow. His hesitation stems from his day job as a bartender. "For four years, I've been working at Chez Panisse. Their whole thing from the very beginning was just to spend an outrageous amount of money on ingredients -- their kitchen has no budget, the chef can order whatever they want without clearing it with anybody. They also decided to never advertise, and that really impacted me. I thought that's pretty brilliant. Going by reputation gives it more of an underground feeling."
But if Vanderslice is more a hard-core fan than a patron, he's also working to get the word out about the bands he loves. This week, he launched an MP3 site at Tiny Telephone's home page (www.tinytelephone.com) featuring songs from bands both local (Granfaloon Bus, Chantigs, Mommyheads, MK Ultra) and national (Spoon, Sunny Day Real Estate's Jeremy Enigk). Despite much of the ongoing debate about the usefulness of MP3 files, Vanderslice stands his ground. "It's really in their [the bands'] best interest to give away their songs for free," he says. "I just think if things are available for free that your audience is much, much larger, and people are willing to take a chance to listen." All of the postings are done with the musicians' permission and input. "It's important to allow them to really understand what I'm doing, that this is a fan page," he says. "I have a visceral love for this music."

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Flipside, issue #117 Mar/Apr 1999 Bitesize
More Songs About Cars and Body Parts, 7"
This is some real basic pop punk. Pop like if Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees teamed up with Luscious Jackson to cover the "Sixteen Candles" soundtrack. Punk like the Mr. T Experience, which I guess isn't really punk at all. So this is real basic pop. It's not a bad gift for your girlfriend if she's getting real sick of your Minor Threat albums and there's another room for you to hang out in.
-Juan Bastos

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The War Against Silence July 1999 Bitesize: More Songs About Cars and Body Parts
Bitesize are a trio from Berkeley. They play like a goofier version of the Muffs who learned tempo from the Ramones, but guitar chords from Voivod. "Headache Baby Yeah!" is a bouncy, petulant diatribe against somebody who consumed all the singer's aspirin, in the mold of the American Measles' "God Took My Bike". "Jumpstart" careens, "The Bee's Knees" borrows the hook from the Archers of Loaf's "Web in Front", and the pounding and strident "In the Know" conceals a lonely domestic tableau worth of Tullycraft. I noticed only two body parts, and no specific cars, although there is a garage. 45rpm, lovely translucent red vinyl courtesy of Packing Heat Music!, whatever that is.

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UNDERPOP, December 1999: Review of Bitesize 'More Songs About Cars And Body Parts' 7" (Packing Heat Music)
There's a certain brand of boy-girl punk pop that bis fans love and everyone else hates. Bitesize fit in this category, along with the likes of the Teen Titans. Two of the songs are very similar in places, but regardless, this is a record you'll love or loathe depending on how many question-and-answer lyrics you can stomach in one sitting. 'Headache Baby Yeah!' is the most catchy song of the four, a girl/ boy tug of war over a bottle of aspirin (in case you couldn't guess from the title!). Recommended to anyone who ever ate a lollipop in public... and enjoyed it. (C)

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Willamette Week
Official Program Guide for the North-by-Northwest Festival: NXNW 1998, Thursday 1 am at ROCCO'S PIZZA
BITESIZE
With the exciting bang and sizzle of a package of Pop Rocks, Bitesize plays a plethora energetic songs that start and finish in two minutes flat. With quirky lyrics, plenty of feedback and male/female vocals, Bitesize could also be compared to the sugar rush one gets from a pixie stick--or the pop-punk music of the Pixies. (JK)

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BAM magazine, January 30, 1998 Night Fever by Greg Heller
The Paradise Lounge. Wednesday night (I think). Lunchbox and Bitesize. Bitesize, so named, I guess, 'cause the lead singer/guitar hopping spazola is a borderline dwarf (for the record, so am I), rocked good and hard in an intentionally off-key (at times taken overboard), atonal Pixies kind of way. The songs were solid, the delivery emotional and the playing skilled. While still indie and strange enough to enthrall the cross-armed militia (who are these people anyway and how come they go out all the time if they hate dancing so much?), Bitesize are just a rock band and thank God for that. The drummer, however, yapped incessantly and is here only spared from big time heckling by the fact that someone told me his actual first name is Speed, which, given his insistence on detailing a recent ski trip to Tahoe to the rock-thirsty crowd, I can only hope he was on.

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http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/13f03.html
NORTH BY NORTHWEST: Conferences and Music
By: Alex Steininger
Portland, Oregon -- With a thriving music community already receiving healthy participation, anything that draws attention to the 'scene' is a good thing. Enter in North by Northwest, the annual music/media conference that focuses on the up-and-coming starts of tomorrow.
Buzz words penetrating every performance, hopes of being signed and plastering your face all over MTV on the minds of every budding musician, North by Northwest may not be all it is glamorized as, but with its growing status amongst the music community, it proves to be a vital festival that has nothing but good intentions.
Taking place August 20-22, I got a chance to scour both the clubs and the conferences to check out what everything was all about. There were a lot of good moments, and some things that can be improved, so here is my interpretation of the events that took place.
Working Thursday morning, I didn't have a chance to attend any of the panels. But once night hit, I put the pedal to the metal and started to absorb the musical life that was clearly visible everywhere throughout Portland.
Starting out with the Panties at Stage Four, I got to catch the last three songs. Popping in during an instrumental jam number, I began to wonder if I made the wrong choice in picking this band to begin the evening with. But when this guitar/drums duo busted into their next two numbers, I was quickly reminded why I came to check them out. Very impressive, the pop hooks had razor blade edges, allowing the right amount of pop to leak out, before cutting you up with some ferocious guitar riffs.
Watching as the crowd quickly disappeared as the Panties left the stage, I decided to stick around and check out Seattle's Speed Twin.
With just a bit of knowledge regarding the band, from the tiny bit I had heard about them, they seemed like a positive act to check out. Sure enough, they were...during some portions of the songs. However, with their obsession of metal and Glam rock, they somehow were able to sink a few otherwise quality power-pop numbers with their muddy guitar work. But that's not to say they didn't sparkle during other times. With a nice pop drive, the majority of their set was quite intriguing. Sitting back and enjoying their set, a few times they almost got me out of my chair to get up and jump around. But being as shy as I am, and with so little people in the audience, I didn't feel like making a spectacle of myself.
Half way through their set, I decided to walk up a few blocks to check out the Negro Problem, a NxNW buzz band for the past few years. Folk-rock with both a serious nature, and a humorous side, the packed house was sitting back and absorbing the atmosphere.
Taking in a few songs, I loved the music, but my body was craving something a bit more aggressive. So I walked back down to Stage Four and caught the last few songs on Speed Twin's set.
After that, I went to my vehicle and tossed around a few notions, before settling on Stage Four's Love Nut, a tremendous power-pop band from Baltimore, Maryland. And boy was I glad I stayed, because their music was both refined and sweet. Each song a new candy morsel, I was on a sugar high just from watching their forty minute set.
So blown away by their set, and what a tremendous set it was, I hung around after the show to talk to the band and get their publicist's number. As a result, you can read their CD review in this issue (October 1998).
In the mood for pop, I once again headed down to La Luna to check out Outpost Recording's newest signing, Marigold. Four twenty-year olds on stage playing decent Brit-pop, after four songs I was ready to sleep. The music was soft and submissive, too fragile for its own good.
But I stayed for the whole set, always expecting the next number to wake me up. But that never happened. As I stumbled out of the club at 12:40 am, I was contemplating the drive down to Rocco's Pizza to check out Bitesize, some Berkeley pop-punk band. Against my better judgement, I passed on some extra sleep and headed down to the little pizza parlor to check them out.
Dueling female/male vocals, Bitesize truly kept with their name, offering up songs that were two minutes or less. Always a nice thing to experience, especially when you're half asleep. But their set was able to instantly wake me up. Centered around catchy, three chord pop hooks, Bizesize knew if they were going to sustain an audience they had to get you singing along within the first thirty seconds. They did it too, which was all the more amazing.
The female had a cute, innocent school girl voice going for her, which was quite the turn on, while the male had this annoying voice that destroyed a few of the songs. After about five numbers however, I learned to cope with the male's vocals, and soon even began to understand them.
Ending their set at 2am, it was time for me to take the voyage home and get some sleep....

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San Francisco Bay Guardian
November 12, 1997 Two Live: Bitesize
Nervy
Just prior to a recent Bitesize performance at the Paradise Lounge, singer-guitarist Tom Serano paced about onstage, making last-minute adjustments to his gear when he wasn't wiping his hands on the sides of his jeans. It seems as though anxiety was the fuel for a frenetic show. A glance at the set list revealed that Bitesize played what seemed like 15 songs in a 35-minute blitzkreig.
From the opening of "Lunchdate," a tale of a botched Certs encounter, Serano went off - leaning tiptoed into his microphone stand and making fidgetyblur with his strumming hand. With a fevered look in his eye, he was never at a standstill, dividing his time between singing at the microphone and stalking in circles. The guy next to me suggested that Serano taught an aerobics class in his free time. I saw images of Chucky, the nefarious doll-come-to-life in the slashe serial Child's Play.
By comparison, bassist Leslie Harrison was laid-back, providing a steady rhythm and cooking backing vocals while Serano snarled Black Francis-isms like "I'm rich and you're bitchin'/Take a ride in my sugar car, sugar car/My valuable sugar car." Drummer Steve LeFevre tailored his playing to the action before him. Whether it was a venomous lyric or a bombastic chorus, LeFevre always seemed to know when to hold back and when to put a little muscle into his accents.
I can't remember a slow song - just 35 minutes of hyperactivity. Serano made many trips to his guitar to mine precious feedback and other noises. Not just a meat-and-potatoes power-chorder, his hands were as unfetteredas his feet - they wandered everywhere in inspired bursts of soloing. The last song, "I Forgot My Mantra," prompted someone to say, "Ordinarily lines like 'I'm a hermaphrodite, but that's beside the point,' would really irritate me, but somehow the energy glosses all of that over." Bitesize plays Thursday/13, 9:30 p.m., Tip Top Inn, 3001 Mission, S.F. $3.
Howard Myint

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San Francisco Bay Guardian
October 15, 1997 Demo Tape o'the Week
Bitesize reminds us of the joy of playing in a band. It's cute the way guitarist-singer Tom Serano and bassist-singer Leslie Harrison play call-and-response on "I Forgot My Mantra." This sweaty rocker recalls the Pixies' wildest moments, in which Black Francis shouted gibberish and non sequiturs in Spanish as his bandmates bashed away, matching his intensity. Harrison and drummer Steve LeFevre give Serano that same solid backing for his flights of fancy. It seems, for instance, that someone eschewed medical school for rock and roll on "Pre Med": Harrison's sweet backing vocals evoke some comic visions (she rhymes "CAT scan" with "bed pan"), and LeFevre's strenuous drumming stops on a dime, allowing Serano to let loose with "I'm not a medical student/But I know my way around a body" in a creepy falsetto. On this fine demo, Bitesize bristles with the energy and charisma of the immortals.
Howard Myint

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