“I’d say we’re like Birthday Party running into Michael Stipe on a guided tour of under water Antarctica given by Werner Herzog.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, firstly, I’d advise you not to expect to find a representative genre in which to place them, for their sound is a mish mash of punk-rock, spoken word poetry, Beastie Boys vocals and God-knows what else. You should expect, however, to be very confused at first, followed by emotions of discovery and enlightenment, before coming to the conclusion that this mob are clearly mental – in good way (think of Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys).
The band in its current form consists of the eponymous frontman Ed Schrader and his flatmate and now bassist Devlin Rice. Their debut record Jazz Mind was released earlier this year and soon both men will embark on their first European tour – a trip that will take them outside North America for the first time in their lives. The band will take to the roads of Europe at the end of October and stop off in Glasgow’s very own Nice N’Sleazy, much to the excitement of yours truly.
Prior to that forthcoming tour NES caught up with both members (one of which was stoned) over email to discuss how the Music Beat came to fruition, and get some clue of the methods behind their ‘madness’.
Listening to your album is a terrific experience; No two songs sound the same, and you both sound slightly mad – discuss
Devlin: I like to think of Jazz Mind sort of like going through a day. There are moments of contemplation, moments of disbelief and rage but never one thing that dominates your thoughts. Is seems pretty normal to me.
Ed: Devlin said it best.
Jazz Mind is terrific and can be listened to in around 20mins – bonus. How quickly was it to record and how easy was it to get released?
Devlin: It was actually a slow process. We had Twig Haper (of Nautical Almanac) record and Chester Gwazda (Dan Deacon, FutureIslands) mix it. There was a lot of scheduling difficulties so we ended up recording songs in a number of different sessions. I think that gives much of the dynamic in terms of the record itself; having to set up the mics all over again etc. Then it took awhile to find the album art – Nolen of Post Typography did a wonderfully job. Load was going to release it in the US for the start and then Upset the Rhythm came to us during the process and wanted to release it for you all in the UK/Eurozone.
Ed: This recording took so long that it started before I even joined forces with Devlin. The album which I was supposed to put out with Load was going to be originally just me and a drum – you know the rest. The whole thing took about 2 years and went through 3 different dudes, 4 different studio settings. This last one felt right. Getting it released was easy in the sense that I was on a label – that part was done, if anything was difficult it was making the decision as a group i.e. ‘when do we release this thing?’ – You can never tell, something’s always eclipsing you, hell even the sun is eclipsed sometimes, just ask David Gilmore .. OH BEHAVE!!!
How did you both meet and subsequently decide to form this band?
Devlin: Ed had been playing solo for about three years touring with just voice and the drum. He was asked to play a ridiculous showcase of Baltimore rock bands at this locally famous after hours club called Paradox. We live together and he came into the kitchen a week before this happened and said he wanted to try something different and asked me to join him on bass. It worked out well and we decided to start the band that night.
And how come Ed gets his name in the title?
Devlin: It sounds cool and he had established himself in a variety of mediums.
Ed: It’s all phonetics. I would have settled for Karl Pilkington’s got a
head like a fucking ORANGE! Or K.P.G.A.H.L.A.F.O.
Getting back to ‘not having of posing a dull question – who are your influences music-wise and elsewhere?
Ed: Swans, Current 93, The Birthday Party, Neil Young, Patti Smith,
Public Image, REM, Bowie, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Big Black, Shellac, Joy Division, Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Errol Morris, Hunter S Thompson.
Devlin: I have been listening to a lot of Scott Walker and Sparks. Historically I love King Diamond, Devo, Misfits, Scorpions, B-52’s, Judas Priest. I guess that gives some picture, I am generally into riffs and how sounds come together whereas Ed tends to be more attracted to vocal performance and song structure. I think that also plays into how we write our songs.
Whats your relationship with Future Islands?
Ed: I met them outside a bar in 2006 after their gig at The Depot on Are We Not Men night, this was a great night Mark Brown use to do where he would bring in great underground bands to this tiny Goth Dance Club. The dudes were hanging round back having a cig as was I and they invited me to chill outside their van while they blasted Selda, we had a couple drinks with them, then years later we all moved in together and became like family.
Devlin: We are sort of like domestic partners. We have toured the U.S and Canada with them, we live together as well. I first met them on their first tour as Art Lord and the Self Portraits. The show was at a garage next to a junkyard where they would dispose of jet fuel and other hazardous material, it was a pretty run down location. They all thought they were going to be murdered that night, much to their chagrin we had a wonderful time being drunk. It wasn’t until my first tour when we played in GreenvilleNC 3years later that we were reunited. They are some of my favourite people and I hope their music spreads to every corner of the planet.
Of your sound, you’ve said that “One guy sings and plays a floor tom and the other asshole plays the bass. It’s kinda punk.” Surely there is more to it than that? What about the influence of coming from Balitmore – which I’ve read is pretty rough…
Devlin: Yes I think there is more to it than that. I was just being cheeky. Ed’s a great lyricist and most of our songs start with lyric first and then kind of playing to the imagery and feeling in them, hence the variety of sound. As far as the influence Baltimore has, that can go a few ways. It is a really engaging town as far as art and music is concerned. I feel like folks that are making music and art here are not generally thinking about blatant trends and trying to replicate them. I’m not saying that people don’t know what’s going on or anything but it seems like people tend focus on making work that stands on its own, independent of those influences. Most people that you would talk to don’t live in the bad areas but that’s not to say the drugs and murders are not close by and a concern.
Ed: I’d say we’re like Birthday Party running into Michael Stipe on a guided tour of under water Antarctica given by Werner Herzog.
Ed, I understand you’re a writer also, do you hold aspirations to publish any fiction or…
Ed: I’m a Sports Writer, and I do Book and Film reviews for Baltimore City Paper.
I would like to publish some creative non fiction at some point, and
direct and write films. I am reading 1492 by Charles C. Mann right now. Some of my favourites: A Farewell To Arms, and A Light In August, The Brothers Karamazov.
So you both are coming to the UK at the end of October? Excited? I am.
Devlin: It’s our first time leaving our continent ever. I am looking forward to it. It would be silly to not say I am not nervous. Hopefully we will be able to see your country and get a good idea what it’s all about while meeting new people. The whole trip seems very exotic to me.
Ed: Yes, I have only been to Canada prior to this, so I’m over the moon!
I think I will warm to England, most of my heroes are English, and the
I like an element of sentiment from time to time and to end, I wondered if there was a defining moment or memory from your life which propelled you into wanting to do what you do – create music, art etc….
Devlin: Seeing King Diamond. I was right in front of him and Andy LaRoque. I admire him very much. He has always done what he wanted to do and put total confidence in his persona and albums. Also reading the Beat writers of the 50’s. Post WW 2 America is always depicted as some golden age that has been taken away from everyone. Their writing exposed that everyone in fact wasn’t “living the dream”, that a picture perfect American life was rare and came at a cost, and that there was a way of being outside of it. Have enriched lives and adventure was more meaningful and spiritual than the bought and sold life of America.
Ed: I guess seeing a Michael Jackson Impersonator when I was 5 did it for
me, I want to wear that glove.
ED SCHRADER’S MUSIC BEAT WILL PLAY:
Autumn – Europe
29.10 – London – Dalston Victoria
31.10 – Leamington Spa – Zephyr Lounge
01.11 – York – Stereo
02.11 – Glasgow – Nice N Sleazy
04.11 – Manchester – Sounds Of The Other City
05.11 – Brighton – Sticky Mike’s
06.11 – Ghent – Kinky Star
07.11 – Rennes – La Bascule
08.11 – Paris – La Miroiterie
09.11 – Karlsruhe – Kohi
10.11 – Stuttgart – PopNotPop Festival
11.11 – Lyon – Grrrnd Zero
13.11 – Giessen – AK44
14.11 – Wurzburg – Theater Ensemble
15.11 – Linz – Stwst
16.11 – Nurnberg – Musikverein
17.11 – Ilmenau – Baracke
18.11 – Dresden – Ostpol
19.11 – Prag – Club Final
20.11 – Halle – Huhnermanhattan
21.11 – Bielefeld – AJZ
22.11 – Brussels – Magasin 4
23.11 – Berlin – Schokoladen