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August 13, 2018 | by  | in Music |
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Interview with The Beths

The Beths have gained a lot of hype in the media of late – especially in Rolling Stone and Stereogum, who have been raving about the re-release of 2016’s Warm Blood EP and the band’s latest singles. To celebrate the release of their debut full-length album Future Me Hates Me, I sat down and had a chat with Elizabeth Stokes from The Beths, to learn a bit about the band, their sound, and their influences.
Josh: Tell me a little bit about The Beths, in terms of how the group started and got to where it is now?
Elizabeth: The Beths have been around for a few years now, and I mean, we’ve all just been fixtures of the Auckland music scene since we were all in high school playing in our high school bands. We all ended up going to jazz school as well – me, Jonathan, Ivan, and Ben. The Auckland music scene is pretty small though, and so you can’t really make a living as a jazz musician, which I think works out well for the scene because you end up with all these people who love music and end up playing in people’s bands and making music of lots of different kinds. Making not-jazz music basically.


J: Yeah, like bringing the influences of things they’ve learned from studying different types of music and genre, and applying that to other music right? That’s totally cool.
E: Yeah, I think Auckland’s quite a special scene, I really like it a lot. Anyway, it was a couple years after jazz school, and I was playing trumpet because that’s what I’d studied, and doing a bit of teaching, but I wanted to get back into songwriting which is what I used to do in my high school band, and you end up recruiting the friends who you play in different projects with, and we just started jamming, made some demos and that’s kinda how the band started. We worked out what we wanted to sound like, and it took maybe even two years of us jamming and playing until we had anything like an EP out. We weren’t really rushed, but I think that meant the EP felt quite settled, like we’d decided on a sound.
J: Like an established sense of identity to start with? I think maybe sometimes you find with bands, and it might be a local thing, but you hear groups going gung-ho into the first project and they kind of iron things out as they go. I definitely feel that on the Warm Blood EP, cohesive sense of identity there for sure.


E: That’s good to hear! I also respect it’s quite exciting as well when you start a new project and immediately record it, I think there’s exciting about that as well. It’s just not what we did!
J: Different approaches to end up at releases huh. Anyway, new album’s out on the 10th (Future Me Hates Me), you guys must be fizzing to get that out. How long have you been sitting on, or working through, the material for that one?

E: I was writing some of the songs back when we put the EP out, or even when we were recording the EP, so it’s quite a long collection. The most recent song, was written last year, the last song on the album… But most of the songs we’d already played live, and we’d already kind of worked out the kinks. We recorded it in Jonathan’s studio on K Road… and he records and produces us, and does a great job.
J: There’s benefits to having an in-house producer I guess, you can shape it entirely how you want to have it right?
E: Yeah, we get a lot of freedom which we’re really lucky to [be able to] take our time a little bit, which can be a double-edged sword because it means you end up taking too much time [laughs]… but it’s not like “we’ve got two weeks in the studio, we’ve got to finish the record…”, they gave us the luxury of taking our time with it, like the way that maybe a bedroom produced record would, but with a bigger space and nicer microphones.
J: Tell me about some of the influences for the new record, be that musically or otherwise. What shaped the way you wrote and composed the material?
E: I’m such a sponge, in that I can listen to each song and pretty much remember what I was listening to, and I wonder how much I’ve stolen [laughs]. I mean, during the process of writing this record – which was over the course of two years or something – I was listening to a lot of Alvvays, and also a lot of New Zealand bands I really love, like Hans Pucket.
J: Alvvays seems like a cool one, there’s some similarity there. There’s this awesome wave of pop-punk bands coming through the indie scene at the moment, and so I was wondering how much that has to do with where music was a decade ago you know, I remember growing up and hearing that sort of music in a mainstream sense, and so I wonder if that has a role in the resurgence of that style in an indie sense. I was curious more than anything!


E: Yeah totally, I think you’re right. I really like the way that guitar music, and pop-punk, has come back and that the torch is being carried increasingly by women, particularly in this kind of rock guitar music with people like Courtney Barnett and Snail Mail or Charley Bliss and stuff. It’s not exclusive to that, but I really like that it’s taking these sounds… it’s not reinventing the wheel making guitar pop music, but it’s just with new stories because they’re being told by people it wasn’t being told by necessarily before.
J: Yeah, there’s this wonderful female-driven indie scene coming through, and a lot of the music coming out through that lens has been awesome. I guess it’s proving that “guitar music” isn’t dead, despite what everyone wants to say…
E: Yeah, I think “rock and roll” carries connotations… sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and that carries zero appeal to me…

J: I totally agree!

E: The aesthetic of that is just so dated I think.

J: Nice to give it a facelift in that sense then, we’re better than that.
E: I feel like rock music used to be cool, but now it’s a nerdy music kind of. It’s not a cutting edge, “cool” thing, which is where I feel comfortable, definitely comes with being kinda nerdy, that’s where I like to live.
J: I agree! I like these musics that sit on the margins a bit, it’s comforting for lots of people. Anyway, what does the rest of this year look like? Touring?
E: Yeah! We’re coming back to New Zealand! We’re playing at The Other’s Way, and then going over to Australia and doing a tour and then coming back to New Zealand and doing a tour, which I’m really excited about.
J: I’d be super keen to see you guys! Also The Other’s Way is a super cool festival.
E: It’s really fun! I get to play with all my friends, like Wax Chattels and Hans Pucket and Miss June… it just feels like a nice homecoming to be able to play with all local bands, and all my friends, on K Road!
Future Me Hates Me is out August 10th through Carpark Records, and keep an eye out for their live dates later in the year.

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