steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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For years, the BEANS have been playing weird free-jazz experimental rock. They've released an ep, "Tired Snow," on Zum Media, as well as a new album, "Crane Wars." Previously, they put out an album called "Portage" on Zulu Records. You can find out more at When I talked to Stefan, a member of the band, they had just finished playing a 48 hour concert!

indieville: How did you guys all get together to form the BEANS?

BEANS: Tygh, Andy and I used to be in a Velvet Underground cover band called the Danglers. Our official t-shirt had a drawing of a stomach on it. Anyhow, that band split up and Andy kept playing with Tygh and me separately. Then Andy worked out this plan to bring the three of us together again. So we ended up playing together this one day (our own material) and I remember watching Tygh curled up in a little ball, wedged in between his amplifier and Andy's futon (we jammed in Andy's room), and there were the crazy screeches and howles and grunts and stuff coming from him and his amp. I still can't remember how he managed to play his guitar, but that was it. We were the beans from then on. One night, at a show we were playing, Ida shuffled in off the street holding her trumpet (she was busking). She asked if she could sit in for a song and we instantly fell in love with her. Andy and I met Damon at university where we were taking computer music courses together. Damon came up with some pretty mean electroacoustic stuff, so we asked him to hop on board, and he consented.

i: What was it like recording Crane Wars? Was it any different from Portage? Why the name Crane Wars?

B: We recorded Portage in our living room on an 8 track reel-to-reel. The 8 tracks companion (the mixing board) was lovingly referred to as "monkey business." we had all the time in the world to record in the comfort of our own home. the all-over-the-placed-ness of Portage just came from us experimenting, trying whatever with whatever instrument whatever time of the day, having fun. there are a lot of unreleased tracks from that period. With Crane Wars, it was basically the same situation, except we recorded at The Hive Recording Studio. They were very generous to us, as far as how long we needed to record what we wanted to record. Crane Wars is a more focused effort only because we decided to approach the album that way. When we left the studio, we had over two hours of recorded and mixed material which was just as all over the place as Portage. I guess we just tried to make Crane Wars a little less eratic than Portage. Crane Wars is basically a document of the beans from 1996-99 so some of the material is fairly old for us now. We actually have another album almost finished. We're a little slow with these things.

i: How did you find Zum? What made you choose them?

B: Zum chose us. My girlfriend met George (Zum) while her band was on tour (he set up their show in Berkley) and she gave him a copy of Portage. He called me soon after. Yvonne and George (Zum) kick some serious ass.

i: What was it like performing for 48 hours straight? Would you do it again?

B: That is definitely hard to describe. I haven't really processed what happened quite yet. It was maddening. We tried to prepare for it but when we were in the middle of it, it really hit us how large of a thing it really was. There is no way to prepare. There were a lot of great moments for the band. We played some of the best music we've played. And I'd like to think that the quality of music that we were putting out over the 48 hours, for the band, was fairly high. We had some moments of exhaustion where the music would drop to pretty minimal stuff with not a lot of effort, but for the most part we steamrolled through that 48 hours. The last 4 or so hours were amoung the best for sure. Something clicked. We had become habituated to playing or something. During the last hour we broke into three part harmony for a song we had never rehearsed as a whole before. Fairly suprising considering we're predominantly an instrumental band. Anyhow, We had the whole 48 hours planned out. We approached it as one song. Our friend David Crompton made these slides describing where we were in the song for each hour. It mapped out the 48 hours for the audience, so they had an idea of what we were doing with the music. We have the projection slides posted on our website for people to check out. David did a great job, they look good. And no, I don't think we'll be doing that again. It's way to crazy.

i: How did you get the inspiration for this type of music? Were any of you exposed to it when you were growing up? Or did you discover it later in life?

B: The only thing that I can think of musically from when I was a kid that might have influenced what I play in the beans is the times when I would sit with my father in the living room with the lights out and listen to Beethoven symphonies. I dubbed those records onto to my little fisher price tape recorder and rode around the trailer park on my BMX blasting Beethoven. Maybe the Beethoven explains some of the melodrama. There is a show Tygh, Andy and I went to back in '95 or '96 (beans formative years) that really blew us away. It was the Dirty Three. They were fresh from Australia, I think, and they blew us away. We didn't know who they were cause we were there to see John Cale. They were spitting and screaming and jumping and playing the craziest music. I think I got a little Warren spittle on me. So initially they were an influence. I listened to Pell Mell and Talk Talk a lot in the formative years as well. I can't speak for the rest though. Since then there has been a lot of things, music or otherwise that have influenced us which would be to much to go into here.

i: What type of music do you listen to? Like, what's in the cd player/tape deck/turntable right now?

B: Dixie's Death Pool - Soon In the Mood For Love - Soundtrack Morton Feldman - Piano and String Quartet some old live Velvet Underground bootlegs a steady diet of Giacinto Scelsi, Gavin Bryars, and Neil Young

i: Got any interesting or funny stories to share?

B: When we came down to San Fransisco last summer on our Westcoast tour, we ended up spending a few nights in a 20 foot high sphere covered in bubble wrap. it was cozy 'cause there was a humungous bean bag pillow inside of it. actually, there is a picture of us lounging in the sphere in the Crane Wars CD booklet.

i: What's that question that you wish all interviewers would ask, that I haven't? And what's the response?

B: Why are the beans so difficult to deal with? Why are they so frustrating and irrational? Once this radio interviewer became a little confused and frustrated because we answered his questions in mono-voice (everyone saying the same thing at the same time). It's actually a pretty neat effect when everyone is on. We didn't mean to confuse or upset. I think he was mildly ammused after he realized all hell wasn't going to break loose. We are responsible misbehavors.

i: What's it like touring? Is the whole experience barrels o' fun, or is there a lot of work involved? Or is it a mixture?

B: It's crazy touring. We all get along, so that's good. I have had a lot of fun on every tour we've done, even if half the shows are us playing behind a heater in someone's basement to 3 people. We have always had really great experiences on the road, like sleeping in giant spheres, etcetera. We like to think of tours as holidays. We bring tents and camp out some nights, roast some mystery chunks from the van over the fire. I have to say, touring is barrels o' fun.

i: So you're walking down the street. A man with a top hat on walks up to you and takes off his hat. He shows you that hat and says, "In here, I've got two bags. One bag contains 5000 dollars, the other bag is a mystery bag." You look into the hat, but you don't see anything. He assures you that they are in there. He speaks, "Now, it's you're turn to choose one. Which would you like?" What do you do?

B: Oh my God. I'm not good with this stuff. I am an indicisive person. Maybe I should probably buy some groceries. I've been eating out too much.

i: What's your favourite colour?

B: Right now it's green.

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