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The Beans

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Stefan, am: 13.10.2004 ]

Es ist nicht gerade einfach, zu beschreiben, was genau The Beans aus Vancouver jetzt wirklich machen. Ist es klassischer Post-Rock, Avantgarde, einfach nur experimenteller Indie-Rock oder doch etwas ganz anderes? Im Prinzip völlig egal, denn die Band hat wieder einmal ein sehr intelligentes, durchdachtes und feinfühliges Stück Musik namens „Bassplayer“ auf die Welt gebracht, das keinesfalls in irgendwelchen Spezialistennischen verhungern sollte, sondern eine breitere Öffentlichkeit verdient hätte und diese durchaus auch erreichen kann, denn so unprätentiös, direkt und doch komplex und vielschichtig war in letzter Zeit selten ein Album. Grund genug mich mit Stefan über Vancouver, Politik und Plattensammlung zu unterhalten.


Musicscan: How long did you work on “Bassplayer” and in how far do you think it differs from your previous efforts?

The Beans: We recorded the bed tracks and some overdubs sometime in the fall of 2000. At the time, we had other projects come up and there was some confusion as to what we were going to do with the recording. Intr.Version showed interest in releasing it in 2003, which was the push for us to finish it. The primary difference between this record and the previous studio records is that Damon, the bass player, is on it. You can definitely hear his influence on the band when you compare it to the other studio records.

Musicscan: Is the band a collective of changing members or do you work with a fairly constant line-up?

The Beans: ItÂ’s constant. Just the five of us.

Musicscan: Many people would perceive The Beans as a political band. Would you agree?

The Beans: No. May 6 Expires is loaded that way and the idea in that song spilled onto the cover art, but as far as I recall, it is the only Beans song that deals with a historical political event.

Musicscan: Can sound or music have a political dimension itself? Is it possible to convey political content apart from artwork and liner notes?

The Beans: Yes, I would say so. IÂ’m not exactly sure what that would mean in musical terms today though. If I look into the history of western music, there was definitely elements in music which resulted a in political and social impact. This was done with form and harmony, etc. But today I find it hard to see what would be a political statement musically. Maybe if I consider the politics of my country or city, it might become more clear.

Musicscan: I believe you are also actively involved in establishing arts and performance spaces in Vancouver. What is your relationship to the city and how do you think the city and your surroundings influence your music?

The Beans: Ida was running a great venue here called the Sugar Refinery but thatÂ’s closed now. WeÂ’ve also played some shows in unusual places like an aquatic centre, a big old church, etc. Being five busy people from Vancouver (which is a little out of the way), we havenÂ’t toured much, so a lot of our energy goes into finding new places to play and interesting things to do within Vancouver. We work quite a lot with our surroundings. We do a lot of field recordings in the city and surrounding area.

Musicscan: I assume that the band does not pay the bills yet, so what are you doing besides music and how do you make ends meet?

The Beans: I have been getting bits of money here and there for short film soundtracks, shows and odd jobs. I also teach part-time.

Musicscan: Are there certain aesthetic goals or criteria that you are looking to achieve on an album?

The Beans: Not really. We record some songs, do overdubs, and pick an order for the songs that sounds good. There are ideas we have about the music in general which may make it on to a record. One idea we worked on was the perception of the passing of time, or how fast we perceive time passing in music. We tried that out with a song that was 48 hours long. What we learned from playing that influenced our music noticeably in a time sense.

Musicscan: Is there a common theme on “Bassplayer” that would tie the songs together in order to make them one artistic entity or is it just a compilation of songs? In how far are the albums even connected?

The Beans: If there is a common theme in the songs, itÂ’s just how we were all feeling at the time. A lot of it is just the stage that we were at in learning how to play together. This may be reflected in different forms throughout the songs, but nothing conscious or literal. On Inner Cosmosis there is definitely a central theme, though.

Musicscan: Do you feel a strong connection to bands like GYBE, Do Make Say Think, Mogwai or Broken Social Scene? Do you think instrumental music has become much more widely acknowledged and received due to bands like The Beans and the aforementioned?

The Beans: Not really. In Vancouver, there are many great bands weÂ’ve played with who we really enjoy and feel a connection with. Outside of Vancouver, weÂ’ve played with Hanged Up and Xiu Xiu, who are our friends. I donÂ’t perceive our music as really making it out there too much, but itÂ’s great if people outside of Vancouver like what we do. When we play Montreal, we always have a good time.

Musicscan: How do you write your songs? Is there one major songwriter or does everyone contribute equally? Has the process changed over the years?

The Beans: We improvise a lot. We write songs as a band. Sometimes someone will come with a riff or a song. Tygh brings the songs with singing. WeÂ’ve come up with ideas for long songs and fill them out when we perform live, like a structured improvisation. Inner Cosmosis was a structured improvisation. Often we write skeletons of songs and flesh them out differently every time we play. We donÂ’t really play a song the same twice.

Musicscan: How did you get in touch with Intr.Version? Is it purely a business relationship or also a friendship?

The Beans: Mitchell saw us play at a music festival here in Vancouver. We kept in touch and ended up giving him “Bassplayer”. Yes, we’re friends.

Musicscan: Do you have any specific goals with the band? How far do you want to take it?

The Beans: Not at the moment. Though, we did go through a period recently of coming up with themes for shows with music written specifically for that show. One show ended up being released (Inner Cosmosis). Another show we played in a large indoor swimming pool. Another show we played a song that was 48 hours long.

Musicscan: Any current favourites as far as records, books or movies are concerned?

The Beans: Current favorite records: Loren Mazzacane Connors “Portrait of a Soul”, Toshiya Tsunoda “o respirar da paisagem”, Glen Gould “The Solitude Trilogy”.
Books: Margeurite Duras “Moderato Cantabile”, Paul Bowles “The Sheltering Sky”, Thomas Pynchon “V.”
Movies: “Werkmeister Harmonies” Bela Tarr, “Father and Son” Alexander Sokurov, “The Return” Andrey Zvyagintsev

  The Beans