The Beets are quick to tell you that they’re from Jackson Heights, Queens and play stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, which they continue to do on their new album, Stay Home, thanks to a string of happy accidents and obliviousness to current music trends. We sat down with singer-guitarist Juan Wauters and bassist Jose Garcia to find out more about the new album and what’s up next.
The L: What would you say is the biggest difference between Spit in the Face of People Who Don’t Want to Be Cool and Stay Home?
Juan Wauters: On a lot of the songs, I sing main vocals now; before it was mostly all three of us singing. I don’t know why — maybe because they’re more narrated songs?
Jose Garcia: I feel like what carries a lot of the newer songs is the way that [Juan] sings them; [his] voice in general. And [he’s] always changing when we play live. A lot of the newer songs leave more room to mess around with how [he] sings them.
Juan: The last year and an half, I feel like we’ve experimented a lot. That’s something I really admire about our band. Even though we have songs written, we always try to come up with different versions for every show, do something at least a little different. I’ve been listening to this Uruguayan musician whose guitar playing and vocal delivery is really loose — like floating almost — and it’s driven me away from that really strict Ramones setup, at least in how we perform live.
The thing about this album is that when we recorded it, we weren’t communicating well with our drummer at the time and didn’t really talk about how we were going to do the album. We just sort of went and did it. We knew the songs by heart, we could play them with our eyes closed, so it was more like we just did it without much thought. I think if you would’ve recorded it during a live show, it would be a much better album. Our first album too. I think they’re really good albums, and the songs are really good, but…
The L: So you think your live shows are better than your recordings?
Juan: Well, yeah, sometimes. Or when we practice, sometimes I can’t believe my ears.
Jose: Everything sounds good at the practice space…
Juan:: Or when we’re just hanging out, jamming, or when we do radio sessions — I listen back to them and wish that they were the album.
The L: Is it how you guys play the songs or the production that you like better live?
Juan: The production, I guess. Now we met this guy, Gary Olson — he’s in the Ladybug Transistor — who has a really, really nice studio and records in high definition with big tape. He’s got a huge board, all analog equipment in the basement — the way bands in the 50s, 60s and 70s used to record. So that’s where we’re going to record the third one, just to get that big sound. I feel like when bands record through a computer, a lot of the soul, the feelings — the what do you call it? — the sentimental part of the song gets lost in the way the computer records the sound.