It’s an enviable prospect having some of Bristol’s finest musicians as label mates, especially when you happen to run the label they belong to. This was the position Geoff Barrow found himself in one Christmas in 2007 at the Invada label Christmas party, The Invada Acid Tests.
It was at this party that Geoff, Billy Fuller of Fuzz Against Junk and Matt Williams of Team Brick came together to jam, with Barrow on drums, Fuller on Bass and Williams playing clarinet. In January of this year with space in their schedules, the trio came together once again to record what would be BEAK>’s debut album.
Today, BEAK>’s bassist Billy Fuller has allowed some time to discuss the album. When I speak to Billy, he and the band are in the process of putting the finishing touches to 500 limited edition BEAK> box sets. “We wanted to do something a little bit special in this age of downloading where you just grab it and stick it on your iPod. I’m an avid record collector and I think there are still people out there who like products. A physical thing that looks nice. The box set is like the Beak fans instant collectors box.”
For the recording, BEAK> limited themselves to a time frame of 12 days. With no overdubs or edits, the debut marks a significant change to the way Barrow and co normally go about recording. “Very little production went into it. We’d basically hit record and go for it. ‘Blackwell’ is the very first moment we played together. When we finished playing we went into the control room and put up the faders and that was pretty much the sound really. To keep it fresh. So many records today sound over produced. We wanted to make some music that sounded like it was coming from the space it was made in.”
While Barrow has often let his influences permeate the music he makes, he was keen to keep Beak’s recordings as democratic and organic as possible. “Lots of people have mentioned that you can hear Krautrock in there, and we all like that music, but I don’t think we consciously did that. On the first day we went into the studio Geoff had a CD by The Plastic People of the Universe called Egon Bondy’s, Happy Heart’s Club Band. I think that record just had a murky quality to it, like it could had been made in any time or place, and I think the sound of it maybe leaked over onto the record.”
The band has recently returned from doing shows in Berlin and Paris. Despite appearing on a few occasions in Bristol, this is the first time they’ve played on anything resembling a tour. “The songs are sounding better live. We didn’t know how it was going to be because the album was improvised. Maybe we’ll end up being like Marmite. I think people will either love us or they’ll hate us. I don’t think anyone will just think we’re ok. I think that’s the worst thing anyone can say about your music is that it’s just ok.”
For those who are currently enjoying BEAK>’s new offering the band look set to release more material in the future. “The three of us are really enjoying it. We’re gonna do some more stuff. We’ve been talking about doing a set of 4 EPs that will then count as a second album and then just move straight on to album number three. Then we’d never have to do the difficult second album!”
I leave Billy be, as I’m informed that stencilling 500 pizza boxes is quite a long-winded process. Look out for BEAK> who are touring this December.