By Julijana Capone
Beth’s hypnotic sounds pull from the noir-ish side of post-punk. With measured cut-and-slash riffs and dark lyrical imagery—black snakes, rats, severed heads, blood and desire—it’s a macabre universe that’s as creepy as it is sensual.
Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Stefan Wolf and bassist/guitarist Ken Prue (both of defunct post-punk act Pop Crimes) and skinsman extraordinaire Rob Gardiner (Figure Walking, Conduct), the band’s debut self-titled release arrives on May 27, featuring seven tracks that ooze Lynchian eeriness and Nick Cave’s foreboding sung-spoken poetics.
Many of the tracks feel as if drawn from a nightmare or hallucination, and according to Wolf, that’s exactly where some of the material was derived from.
“Do you ever have weird premonitions in your dreams and you wake up and those things are happening? Wolf asks by phone from Winnipeg.
“I’m a skeptic in many aspects with those things, but when things are staring you in the face… it’s like I can’t define it, but I know the feeling, so I think a lot of the lyricism was trying to define what that feeling was and where it was coming from.”
The track “Center of the World,” centers on a dream Wolf had when he was visiting his brother in Vientiane, Laos. It speaks to that sense of cosmic spookiness in a slow, creeping slither.
“I have a horrific phobia of snakes,” he says.
“I had this crazy dream where I woke up in this room and there was this massive 10-metre-long black snake that just started feasting on my legs and it slowly consumed me… and I was like, ‘this is good material.’”
At the time of writing the album, Wolf says he was going through a “horrendous break-up,” and that heaviness is certainly felt throughout the record, particularly on the track, “Little Smoke,” which revolves around the repetition of love and obsession.
The song, Wolf says, grapples with understanding “what is real and what is something you’ve constructed, and if it really makes a difference if it’s a truth or fallacy if the final outcome is the same.”
As Wolf explains, Beth’s anguished tone and patient atmosphere was an intended shift from the abrasive four-on-the-floor post-punk of their former projects.
Recorded at Collector Studios with technicians Art Antony and Will Grierson, an array of recording techniques were applied to create the record’s spaciousness.
“We spent a lot of time writing, re-writing, and knit-picking over single lines and guitar parts,” Wolf says.
While Wolf contributes guitar work to the record, he sheds all instrumentation live, putting his brooding vocals front and centre.
“When I first started practicing with the band I thought I was going to be a lot more timid and standoffish about everybody hearing my lyrics and my voice, but it felt very organic,” he says.
“I was a guitar player for a long time, so just having a microphone is a freeing experience.”
Along with the band’s attempt to create a consistent sonic and lyrical mood, there was also a conscious effort put towards the aesthetic of their live shows.
A full audio-visual experience that conveys the seriousness of the record, on stage Beth’s members are not the same dudes in T-shirts from projects of yore, but rather a more sophisticated version—in all black, of course.
Vampires are going to love this.
Beth perform May 6 at Red Gate (Vancouver), May 10 at Heck Haus (Lethbridge), May 11 at The Sewing Machine Factory (Edmonton), May 12 at Tubby Dog (Calgary), May 13 at Amigos (Saskatoon), and May 27 at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (Winnipeg). To purchase Beth’s new album, visit whoisbeth.bandcamp.com.
Amigos, Beth, Crescent Fort Rouge, Heck Haus, Red Gate, The Sewing Machine Factory, Tubby Dog