Your melodies are very original: you’re not decorating for the sake of decorating (Mariah-style), but you create some unusual, beautiful shapes. Do you plan things out on piano or sing as you feel?
Thank you. I mean, if I could sing like Mariah I would! I find I’m always writing melodies that are just on the cusp of what I could comfortably sing. I think the register you sing something in is important, so if I come up with a melody in my head, part of the process when I pick up my guitar is figuring out where in my range it makes sense for it to go. But I think the most important thing to me is phrasing. It’s what makes a song yours.
At the end of the awesome Dying To Believe, we hear an automated trainstop message: “We are now arriving at… Orakei.” What significance does this suburb hold for the band?
We wanted to use a train announcer voice in the song, so we asked Rose Matafeo to play the role and chose Orakei station. We’re all public transport heads, big fans. When you take the Eastern Line train from the city, you pass through Orakei along the beach and over a body of water. It’s a beautiful view of the harbour. It’s just got to be one of the best commuter train trips you can take in the world.
What inspired Tristan’s extremely excellent rim-pattern rhythm in Out Of Sight?
[Tristan:] I love Paul Roper’s drumming with The Mint Chicks. I was listening to them a lot last year and admiring his relentless momentum on the drums. On the track Post No Bills there is a change mid song from loud and thrashy to an earnest, heart on sleeves guitar riff. Roper continues to play a busy, high energy pattern, but by changing to the rims and freeing up some space it becomes a very tender section and it’s a beautiful, sensitive moment bookended by thrashy intensity. In Out of Sight I used a similar device. I wanted to keep the energy and momentum up between the hits, without taking up much space or distracting from the big guitar chords.
What can you tell us about the fascinating, but bloody cryptic, album art?
My friend Philippa Emery, who made it, had this to say:
“For this work I began by listening to the music and jotting down some ‘vibes’ that came to mind… e.g. a sense of distance, a sense of disconnect (but also connection), broken structure, a need to create light/strong lightness, memories/nostalgia/future projections. After doing some sketches I decided I wanted the text to be incorporated into the environment of the work, to have something that was object-ish, and about how people relate to each other… what keeps us apart/together. In my practice I like to make things that are conceptually a bit hard to tie down so people can read their own meanings into it, which may change over time. I also like to explore unusual uses of materials, and try to create a dual sense of familiarity and other-ness.”
Which of these frankly brilliant songs are you most excited to see a crowd reaction to?
We’ve already played I’m Not Getting Excited live before, and that’s really [fun] to play, plus it has a trick ending which is always funny. I’m really looking forward to playing Dying to Believe live for the first time; it’s coming together nicely.
Jump Rope Gazers by The Beths is out July 10 via Dew Process.
Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.