B&E: Pray For The Soul Of Betty

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Pray For The Soul Of Betty.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

With his rock'n'roll attitude and rock star posturing, Constantine Maroulis earned a big following -- and a sixth place finish -- during this year's fourth season of "American Idol." His performances on the show, and the fans dazzled by them, have pushed his previously unknown New York-based band, Pray For The Soul Of Betty, into the spotlight.

Betty's self-titled debut, released on the band's own Baby Julius label and distributed by Koch Records, debuted last week at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart and entered The Billboard 200 at No. 129.

The album is a dose of straight up rock, with raw vocal energy, grungy guitar hooks and an underlying classic rock vibe. It was recorded between 2003 and 2004, before Maroulis ever tried out for "Idol."

"It's cool in a way," says bassist Taylor, C.R. "It's under-produced and has a limited number of tracks, so it sounds like what Sabbath and Zeppelin made in the '70s. It's very accessible to older fans, and it's a sound some of the young kids never heard before. At shows, I hear 'it's so original' from the kids!"

According to Taylor, each member of Betty brings "varied influences" to the band's sound. "[Drummer Hamboussi] was born in Egypt. Constantine is classically trained. [Guitarist] Joao Joya was in Supla [Zoo Style], which was big in Brazil and whose sound was kind of 'furious bossa nova,'" notes Taylor, who handles all the behind-the-scenes business. He adds that the members' influences include everything from Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden to the aforementioned Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

Although the band's name is rooted in tragedy -- Betty is a friend of the band who died -- its message is positive. "'Betty' is anyone who's struggling with depression, abuse, etc.," Taylor says. "We hope to turn your day around and make it positive. A girl recently wrote us and said that for the first time in two years she doesn't want to drive into a tree because she's excited about something again. Like any musician, we want people to hear our music and have that connection."

As for all the attention that Maroulis is getting these days, Taylor calls it a "mixed blessing."

On one hand, the band has had opportunities presented to it that others only dream about. "We have an amazing, almost obsessive fan base that will drive us where we want to go," Taylor says. On the other, Maroulis' contract with "Idol" leaves the remaining members of Betty to wait out a summer tour with his fellow finalists.

In the meantime, Taylor says, they'll be like "little bunnies in the studio," writing more songs for the band's follow-up release and preparing for a fall headlining club tour.

Artist: www.prayforthesoulofbetty.com
Label: www.kochrecords.com