posted on December 08, 2009 18:00
Northern Ireland’s finest The Beat Poets release their new EP “The Making” this week (See in Album Reviews Section). I caught up with them recently to discuss their desire for world domination.
I first encountered you guys in 2004 when I think you were starting out, what have you been up to since?
At that time several of us were in a different band, in May 2005 we launched ‘The Beat Poets’. Since then it has been a lot of hard work mixed with some excellent experiences; supporting acts such as supporting Sonic Youth at outdoor festivals, playing in Canada, America (including SXSW 2009), UK tours and releasing records.
Are you as a band at a stage where you know what you want to get out of the music and the direction you want to go?
I think it took us a few years to find a sound, we are very critical with ourselves and we have experimented a lot over the last 4 years with different tracks, sounds, producers, studios etc. Since the start of 2009 we have been moulding the band into the sound we finally want, after SXSW in March we realised to do this would mean taking 6 months out to really concentrate on the song writing and production. Most songs we have would have several versions and we really only want our material to go out when every member of the band is happy with the same version for release.
The EP itself, 4 tracks, is it a taste of what’s on the album or a stand alone release? Where was it recorded?
It was recorded with Neal Calderwood in Manor Park Studios who recently recorded the General Fiasco and FWW’s first albums. The E.P is a slight taste of what is to come on the album, the acoustic version of ‘Bloodline’ for example will be replaced by the full electric version on the album. It’s been a year since our last release, which is far too long. It was necessary to work on the direction and sound of the band but we felt that in coming back we wanted the release to be of more substance than a single. The aim was to show we were working hard at developing the band and song writing as well as giving people the chance to get their teeth into the direction the band is taking.
In the band’s existence, have there been points where any of you thought about packing it in? Or have the years served you well through experience earned?
Any band in this day that says they don’t have low points is talking S****. I don’t think I ever thought of packing it in, but there have been disappointments over the last few years. It mostly has revolved around trusting in people to work with the band that dramatically let you down. Hence why we’re happy for the time being to self-release and work campaigns ourselves. We definitely have developed thick skins over the last few years and I find any knocks a lot easier to deal with. In this game and no matter what level you’re at it is inevitable that there will be a few.
The current exposure both on MTV and the BBC, does it feel like the start of something big? As a band do you feel the next 12 months are make or break?
It’s impossible to tell, as with the last question I think in developing thick skins and gaining experience in this industry we have calmed down substantially compared to the poets first few years. Our aim now is to enjoy playing and recording music. We have started to develop our own label and have a great marketing team in London called Absolute that work with Dave Matthews, Imogen Heap etc and our records are distributed by Universal. We can release at will and this control means technically we don’t need a record label to get the music out there digitally or physically. We have great contacts with MTV and other licensing bodies from our trips to the UK, Canada and London and actually have sealed all these deals ourselves without management, publishers or a label. Off course we would love the financial input of a major or significant indie to help push the band more but rather than hopefully wait until they come along we have decided from now on to take the initiative ourselves and see what happens.
There is an earnest sort of desire that is conveyed in the music, do you see yourselves like that? As a sort of an honest group who want to achieve for themselves? You don’t buy into the pop star element at all?
We have a reputation as a very DIY outfit and rightly so as outlined in the last question. Since I was a kid I loved the old school approach to music; the gigging like crazy to earn your trade, forming a band with mates, working your ass off to getting enough money to buy a new guitar. I think this approach gains much more longevity and respect than the pop star one. I do see the appeal of the pop star approach for boy bands and solo artists and while I would indulge with guilty pleasure to a laugh at the X-factor on a Saturday night, it’s a route to success I would never consider.
U2 are the obvious inspiration though personally I heard elements of Embrace (when they are good!) and actually The Verve. Am I off the mark altogether??
I would agree that we are inspired by U2, they would be in my top 5 acts for definite. I do like the Verve and some older Embrace songs but they’re not bands I have followed over the years. The bands I find most inspiring are The Doors, Pearl Jam, KOL, Oasis, REM, U2, RHCP, Gaslight Anthem etc.
What’s the plans for the immediate future with regard to touring and dates etc?
We plan to do major Irish touring and release the E.P in further afield in the new year. To initially promote this release we decided to do three selective shows; The Spring and Airbrake in Belfast on December 3rd; Whelan’s in Dublin on December 10th and finally a hometown show in ‘The Square Peg’ in Warrenpoint on Dec 12th. The E.P campaign will run through until the end of January when we’ll announce the next single which should be out at the end of February. 2010 is when we plan on bringing the show to the road with more new material.