Adelaide’s Beaver are pretty hot right now. After a run of sideshows alongside the Hits & Pits Festival the band are about to drop their first official release, a 7-inch titled “On The Record” on legendary label Arrest Records Australia.
We spoke to drummer/singer/all-round-nice-guy Dan Jones about the new release, the band name, releasing vinyl, the drummer/singer combo and surviving in a niche market in a small city. Read the full interview here.
Brittles (Dying Scene): Alright, tell me the story of Beaver? How you came to be etc etc?
Dan: Beaver was born almost a year ago on Labor Day, May 1st. I’d just finished writing five songs in the vein of Descendants, Dag Nasty and Bad Religion, and was pretty excited about doing a punk band again. I’ve played in hardcore bands with our guitarist Ryan Crowe for almost 10 years, and had tried to get a similar project off the ground with our bass player Louis Pitman, so the line-up came together easily. After playing our first show 2 weeks later, we recorded the first five songs live and released them on a limited run of cassettes. If anyone’s interested, the songs are still available for free download at our site.
I have to ask, does the band name refer to a woman’s genitals or are you simply into the animal?
Ha! The name draws inspiration from the industrious animal, 90’s-punk one-word band names, and yes, a childish reference to genitalia, which could also be seen as a feminist statement. The name is also partly inspired by The Beaver, a movie about a depressed CEO who after attempting suicide develops an alternate personality represented by a beaver hand puppet. The beaver helps him recover from depression, which has some resonance with me. We’re serious about playing music, but why not have fun doing it?
You’ve released one demo and are going to drop a 7-inch titled “On The Record” on Arrest Records Australia in May. Tell me about how you recorded this?
We tried to approximate our live sounds but opted to multi-track this release to get tighter performances. The drums were recorded to tape at a small studio in Adelaide, the guitars and vocals were tracked at a friend’s place, and the mix and master were done by another friend of ours on an old SSL console. We took few of risks like deliberately tracking the vocal so it breaks up and heavily gaffing the snare drum to get that dry 80’s sound, so it was a lot of fun.
I think the vinyl format, while resurging in popularity, is always a tricky selection for Australian bands given the price of shipping these days. What connection do you have to vinyl and why did you choose this format for your first release?
My music library is mostly digital these days, but I still collect the physical recordings I really love on vinyl. The big artwork, limited colors, and the sound and character of the recordings under the needle all appeal to me.
In Australia, it’s not a profit making exercise but we really wanted to hear this EP back “on the record” haha. I still remember discovering some of my favorite punk bands on vinyl by mail order, so it has that nostalgic connection for me too.
It’s not hard to tell where your influences come from so I won’t ask about them. Rather how are you putting your own spin on a genre with so many bands before you?
Punk is still the only genre I can relate to. We borrow from 60’s garage punk sounds, the memorable hooks of 70’s punk, the straight ahead sound and ethic of 80’s hardcore and skate rock bands, and the 90’s punk revival we grew up with. It’s really just a mix of all the things that make me feel something. The writing process isn’t overly calculated, it’s just what comes out. We’re not afraid to mix things up. No two songs in the set sound the same, but the tones and our individual playing styles pull it all together into a cohesive sound.
The drummer / singer combo is rare. Just exactly how close to the peak of physical fitness does one have to be to be able to pull this off?
Haha, I actually wanted to be a roving vocalist, but while we were looking for a drummer, I did both so we could rehearse the songs. It felt good and the band chemistry was right as a three-piece. I do try to keep fit so I’m not too out of breath between songs, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near peak physical fitness!
I appreciate that the three-piece is one of the purest forms of rock n roll but would you ever consider adding another element like a second guitar to the band?
We did try a second guitar and it definitely gained something and lost something. It sounded fuller, but at the same time everyone’s trying to play heavier, bigger and more brutal, so we decided to do the opposite. There’s nowhere to hide when you drop out to a lead line over a bass guitar, which is scary, but you can hear everything clearly and you definitely feel more connected to the music.
Being from Adelaide, what challenges do you face being in a niche genre living in a small capital city?
It’s tough. I think playing in a band right now is as hard as it’s ever been. There’s so much music to wade through, and everyone has a band these days so you get these little scenes consisting of each bands friendship circle. Adelaide still has one of the best scenes in Australia, but it’s getting harder and harder for people to get to shows with so much on, which makes it expensive for bands to tour and ultimately stay together. Now more than ever, bands need fans to survive. I think our biggest challenge is getting our music heard by the right people, and by that I mean true hardcore and punk fans.
If Beaver were the love child of two bands, who would they be?
Skid Row and Lady Gaga. We hate our parents. See you at the show!