"You'll never beat the Richmond out of this band"
By Hilary Scott
COLUMBIA, Mo 03/12/15 (Beat Byte) -- People's Blues of Richmond (PBR) hits CoMo's Rose Music Hall (formerly Mojo's) March 14th with a sound described as "Blues meets Modest Mouse-inspired crunch." (Relix)
Black Keys producer Mark Neill produced PBR's latest album, which features the powerful trio of Tim Beavers, Matthew Volkes, and Nekoro Williams on guitar, bass and drums, respectively. All members contribute vocals.
Though comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Modest Mouse, and the Black Keys hint at PBR's super-charged energy and grit, the sheer honesty of the band's approach to songwriting sets them apart.
Read my interview with Beavers and you'll see what I mean.
Hilary Scott (HS): I like to give artists a chance to tell me what they want people to know about their music. Anything you want to say to Columbia Heartbeat readers before they catch you at Rose Music Hall?
Tim Beavers (TB): Hell yeah! Hey Columbia: Get a good night's sleep, eat a good meal. We are coming to stir shit up and you're gonna wanna be ready because we won't be taking it easy on you.
HS: A hallmark of your group is transmitting an amazing energy to audience members when you perform live.
I would imagine you try to retain that same organic and hard- hitting impact when recording. What are some ways you and Mark Neill seek that same energy in the studio?
TB: Energy, togetherness, and fun are our main concerns live.
On our first two albums, you can hear us fighting tooth and nail to capture the intensity and emotion we naturally convey live.
A problem we ran into was that we were very unfamiliar with the recording process and too poor to afford lengthy sessions (our first album was recorded in a weekend and our second album was done in five days).
When we decided to work with Mark Neill (producer on The Black Keys' album 'Brothers' and the J Roddy album 'Essential Tremors'), we wanted to take our time and choose the best songs for his unique sound and recording process.
We did two songs in three recording days (still not exactly taking our time, but better than nine songs in three days). We wanted to do one song that was heavy and fast as well as one song with a more relaxed pace, where we could best explore that huge resonant sound that Mark's other albums are famous for.
One way we translate our live sound to the record is by literally playing the song live in the studio and only overdubbing parts that couldn't be done simultaneously. Like playing a really long live show, it's important to stay energetic and involved the whole time in the studio because if you let one thing go that bothers you go on a recording it will bug you forever.
Performing "Free Will"
HS: Your songs blend a high-adrenaline aural experience with some pretty contemplative and poetic lyrics. Can you tell me about your songwriting process?
TB: The duality you point out is our secret recipe.
We all bring riffs and ideas to the table, and it's always on our mind that we're a three-piece that wants to have as full of a sound as any ten-piece.
The lyrics always happen separately.
Sometimes, I just have an idea I want to expand on that might fit the musical theme of the song, but generally I have poems and lyrics scrawled all over the place that are looking for happy musical homes. There's few better feelings for me than finding a riff's lyrical match or vice versa (except maybe nailing that new tune live).
HS: The place where a musician is born and grows up can have a huge impact on what they create. Would you say Richmond (Virginia) "got into your sound"? It's obviously part of your name, but how else did your hometown surroundings affect your music?
TB: Choosing the name People's Blues of Richmond has really helped us keep our ear on the pulse of our local scene.
We feel a responsibility to honestly portray the ups and downs of our experiences in our hometown. Richmond is rich in youth, culture, and energy. Our city is an underdog with all the potential in the world.
Our music scene doesn't need to be legitimized by outside support. It will not die because it is awesome. Take away all the money and all the support and you still have everything that matters.
We have a chip on our shoulder because we aren't supposed to make it. We are poor and our scene is unknown on a national level.
Everything we do, we learned in Richmond. Scuffle Town showed us that energy breeds energy and anybody who doesn't feel it doesn't matter during the set.
We won't be discouraged, we won't be defeated, we won't stop doing what we love. Ever. You can take everything from us but you'll never beat the Richmond out of this band.
The People's Blues of Richmond with The Main Squeeze
Saturday, March 14
The Rose Music Hall, Columbia