The Beths

James Wadsworth met up with Liz from The Beth’s ahead of their gig at The Anvil to talk tour games, the Oceania scene, bands we should be checking out and more.

What is your secret talent aside from music?
It’s real hard after touring I feel like I’ve become a boring person where my whole life revolves around this. As a child I played badminton competitively until I was about 14, I really liked that and wish I could play again. I decided [when I was a teenager] that music was all I was going to do.

When did you start playing guitar?
I played guitar off and on as a kid but started playing properly in high school, but I was learning trumpet at around the same time.

When are your next concerts in the UK after this tour?
In January and February weíre supporting Death Cab for Cutie on their tour, around 16 dates but we’re doing at least 1 headline show of our own in London at The Hoxton [Bar and Kitchen], January 31st. Last time we were there [in London] we played The Victoria in Dalston.

Do you have a funny/silly/something went wrong story from this tour?
Hmm, lots of things have gone wrong, I don’t wanna talk about that they’re quite depressing. When you’ve been on the road for a while you become quite unbalanced, youíre fine but the smallest thing can tip you over the edge.

We’ve been playing this game on this tour called Bakers Dozen where you listen to one song 13 times in a row. We did it earlier this year with a different band in the states, we listened to Crazy by Seal. It’s a real fun game, you go on a journey wherewith every listen you pick up more and more of the instrumentation and the lyrics and at about 8 listens it becomes unbearable and then around listens 10, 11, 12 it starts to come back around, and you love it. [It comes from] a band called Lawrence Arabia, Jonathon played with them for a bit. We stole the game from them. Jonathon plays guitar [in The Bethís] and also records the band.

What is your favourite song to play live?
I like all the songs. They’re all quite finicky and some of them are more finicky than others but I think its fun to play the fast ones like Uptown Girl or Not Running just because they’re fast so itís like you don’t have to think about playing everything really good you just have to think about playing fast. It’s a different feeling, it’s quite satisfying. When you’re going that fast the room for error is quite small so it’s like skateboarding down a hill. Just gotta keep balance it’ll all be fine.

Did you skateboard as a teen?
Oh no, I tried it out for one whole day and I was getting it and then I had a big fall and grazed my whole side and I put it down forever.

Tell me about your Marc Riley session?
It was pretty cool, obviously coming from New Zealand I only learnt about Marc Riley earlier in the year and how important he is. It was really cool going there and seeing him. Thereís a camera on him when he’s doing the show and heís just air drumming and you feel he just loves music so much and itís really nice to see someone who’s really found their calling. Heís a total sweetheart. Between songs heís just recommending bands and things, telling you about all these artists and what they’ve done.

Can you remember any of the bands Marc Riley recommended?
There’s a band from Dunedin called Opposite Sex, who’ve never been to the UK and released some things really small scale. He was asking if theyíre still a band.

The Beths

What does future me like about me?
If we’re getting real small scale future me likes I tend not to drink before we play. It’s multiple things, I used to do it before we play but I’m not really a good enough guitar player to play whilst tipsy and then usually have 1 beer after the show. In the morning I don’t have a hangover! It can destroy you on tour. I’m extremely uncool in that regard. Future me likes me for that. I don’t ever want to do a shit show.

Tell me the differences between touring the UK and New Zealand?
New Zealand is a similar population but a much larger land mass. You may play a show in Auckland and then the next decent place to play is Wellington which is a 9-hour drive and then if you want to do a third show you have to go to Christchurch which you have to catch a plane or catch a ferry and then drive for another 11 hours. Itís harder to tour and because of that itís hard to do a 10 date tour and get to that good level of tightness. In the UK itís really nice to have these big cities and smaller town which still have a decent venue and people will come see you. It’s nice not having too punishing drives.

What other New Zealand bands are really great at the moment?
If your tastes are in the pop direction you should check out Chelsea Jade, whose album personal best came out this year. Sheís my best friend but she lives in LA. She should be huge, she writes really good songs with really beautiful lyrics. Probably termed as sparse pop.

If your tastes are a little heavier you should check out Wax Chattles who are a post-punk band who are amazing live.

Or if your tastes are more metal check out Earth Tongue. Theyíre one tour in Europe at the moment. They made our video clip for You Wouldnít Like Me.

Is there a sound a particular Oceania sound?
New Zealand has a thing maybe but I feel Australia is quite self-contained. It feels like America, the music scene is quite insular and for example, in Australia you can be an Australian band and get big in Australia and that can be your career. In New Zealand you can’t obviously do that, itís too small market unless you work really, really hard. Because of that Australia has a really big love of guitar music on a commercial level that a lot of places donít have which is really cool. Whereas good time music has a separate space. There’s a lot of guitar music played on the radio and you can still have a career. They also self-support, so Australia supports its own artists. Which makes it quite difficult to crack from the outside.

What song should new fans start with?
You can start on Whatever towards the end of the album, which is also on the EP we recorded. It’s the only song we doubled up. It was the first song I wrote that from then that was the outline, it included all the elements of the sound we were going to go for. I wrote it and then we started playing it and it was clear that this is the sound. We were experimenting early on and this was the blueprint.

Is there anything else you want to say?
No, not really, itís nice to be here in the UK.




Interview by James Wadsworth.

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