“You can expect Kiwi clumsiness in spades”
Lyrics by Benjamin Lamb
The Beths on their Australian tour, writing in lockdown, and their new record Expert in A Dying Field
You would be hard pressed to find a band as original as The Beths. As the world of indie rock continues to grow, The Beths stand out from the crowd with their unique songwriting, Beatles vibes and pitch-perfect harmonies.
Their next release Expert in A Vanishing Field follows their debut The future me hates me and second Jump rope viewers. We caught up with vocalist Elizabeth Stokes and guitarist Jonathan Pearce to discuss it all.
“With an album, there’s always a lot of work,” says Elizabeth. “And it builds and builds and builds, and once it comes out, it’s kind of a relief.”
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Before hitting Australian stages in September, the band brought Expert in A Vanishing Field to crowds around the world, seeing what connects with their adoring fans.
“It’s good to be on tour,” says Jonathan. “I think when we do that, it means you have so much to do every day, you’re not kind of like you’re just sitting in silence and staring at the computer.
“It’s just a real joy. People like concerts and singing new songs, and we think, ‘this really struck a chord with people’ or ‘people like this part of this song’, and then you can kind of learn to play them differently. You give them to the public.
A lot of Expert in A Vanishing Field was built throughout New Zealand’s lockdown period, forcing the four-piece to function in a way that wasn’t too familiar. Elizabeth details the interesting process.
“We hadn’t really made the kind of arrangement where you can write and live on four different continents if you want.
“Historically, I sent a demo. And we would get together in the room and build the song all together. But we were doing stuff where John and I would lay it down like the guitar parts, then we’d lay it down like a scratch drum track, but then we’d send it to Tristan or Ben, who would record a bass line over it .
“It was actually really interesting, I think we’d try again to arrange and write like that because there’s less pressure for one person in a room to come up with a good idea on the spot, I think it’s like people have time to ruminate on everything they’re writing right now.
There really is something special everywhere Expert in A dying field, for much of the record, it feels like you’re sitting in the room with The Beths, jamming with them. Every line is clear and gives great depth to the listening experience.
“One of our goals for the album was that when you listen to it, you can sit in a quiet room with headphones on and choose to just listen to Liz and what she’s playing on the guitar and singing. Or just listen to me and what I might be playing on the guitar or singing, and that part would take you through the song from start to finish,” Jonathan says.
This made it possible to hear a lot of space through Expert in A Dying Field, where the listener can easily fit in. Jonathan notes that much of this has come from the production sphere.
“Leaving this space, it’s good to choose a winning thing and make it really important. And I had to if you constantly overdub something.
“I think another thing that was part of my production strategy for this record was to use the faders more to mix the old-fashioned way and vary the volume of things.
“So there are sections where things are brought back so that the dynamics of the game are improved a bit and then push forward in the choruses. I think it was a different approach to those instrumental tracks, to try to avoid technological responses to problems that can be solved by playing.
The Beths love being inspired by music of all types, with some of their many inspirations being bands like Tegan and Sara, Brand New, and newer bands like Hans Pucket (who will be supporting The Beths on their Australian tour).
The influences also carry over to the world of mixing and audio, with Jonathan noting the music that has inspired many sounds across Expert in A Dying Field.
“I listened to the Soccer Mommy record a lot (color theory)the song ‘Circle the Drain’ and ‘Bloodstream’.
“I thought the low end of these tracks was really great, so I thought okay, I want a tonal balance like this, I need to fill the gaps with some really deep bass and then a kick drum running through .
“There’s a lot of production references, there’s this track called ‘The Good Mr Square’ by The Pretty Things, and it has this crazy bus compression, it’s an amazing sounding recording for heavy bus compression “.
There are just a few more nights left before The Beths head to Australia, hitting bigger stages than tours of the past. The band will be joined by fellow Kiwis Hans Pucket, for what is sure to be an evening of hard-hitting rock.
“It’s weird to say that it’s strictly an album release tour, but it’s right at the release of the album, so it’s not like you can expect everyone everyone listened to the album.
“It’s going to be a fun dynamic, there’ll be a bit of the new record, then some previous records.”
“You can expect Kiwi clumsiness in spades,” the pair add with a laugh.
Expert in A Vanishing Field releases Friday, September 16, check out more info here. Check Out The Beths Aussie Tour Info here.