Interview: The Beets Are Back (Even Though They Never Really Left)

01/24/2011 11:00 AM |

The L: Your sound is a little hard to pin down I think, between its 60s psych-rock and an almost-throwback to 50s greaser-type stuff. How do you guys describe it?

Juan: I think it’s because of Weezer and bands like that, that everybody in our generation listened to growing up, sort of ruined the roots of rock music. And I think our band is more linked to the roots of rock music. I feel like that we’re one of the few bands, that I know of anyways, who play more traditional rock, in a modern way. The Ramones did it in their day, Nirvana did it in theirs, you know? I guess they put names on it after – “punk,” “grunge,” you know, but I think it’s just stripped down rock ‘n’ roll. If you listen to Weezer, that’s not rock music at all. The melodies aren’t rock. Or the emotion put into it. The melodies are just some wacky shit. I mean, I don’t mean to give them shit. I get that they’re famous and people like them. Everybody liked that growing up, so it’s hard for people to get it out of their heads.

And it doesn’t have to be “rocking” to be “rock ‘n’ roll.” People don’t have to be breaking instruments and jumping around. Some people are really folky and groovy and still really rocking, you know? I recently got into Leonard Cohen, and he’s just one guy playing the guitar, but he’s the most rocking guy ever. The delivery and the melody, you can trace it back to rock, whereas when you listen to most of the popular bands in Brooklyn, I don’t think they can be traced back to that.

The L: Yeah, I think you can definitely hear that in your music. I would call it “garage rock.” And now there’s the whole lo-fi thing.

Jose: Yeah, that’s the thing we now kind of realize. Because the recordings are so lo-fi, we get lumped into a certain category. I mean, it’s not a problem, I like that kind of music anyway, but it’s just kind of weird that the way you record can change the kind of music you play &#8212 and it’s just the recording, rather than the actual songs. I feel like the songs are really just rock.

Juan: They can also just be stripped down into a folk song if they needed to. Some dude could play it on a piano and it’d be cool. The most important thing should just be the actual songs, whether you play it on the guitar, or the bass or whatever, the actual song should have some sort of value by itself. I wish a lot of bands would do that, but they’re worried about intricacy and stuff.

The L: What do you think of Animal Collective and stuff like that?

Jose: I loved those first few records, but, yeah — I feel like now that they’re popular, they’re trying to overthink things. I just don’t think they sound the same. On some songs before, it would just be an acoustic guitar and them banging on things, and that was really, really good. I’m not really into all that sort of electronic-y stuff. I understand why people would like it and recognize that’s it’s good; it’s just not the stuff that I’m really in to.