Wednesday 15 May 2013

Beams Release JUST RIVERS, Anna Mernieks talks to the Tinderbox

When will the first BEAMS album come out?

May 14th is the date for the release of the full-length Just Rivers. 
I talk about it on my blog

How long have you been working on this album?

Joanna started recording in winter 2010,
and then Joe quit and the rest of the band joined.
We worked on it all year and it just didn't sound like us
so instead of releasing something half-baked
we started anew in summer 2012.

what do you mean when you say that your first batch of recording didn't sound like you?

The first attempt was done while the band was forming. 
Once the band formed and we'd played a number of shows, 
our sound had a lot more energy 
that the first recording just did not capture.

you’ve been playing a lot in that time. Where?

We haven't really played anywhere outside of 
Toronto and Hamilton,
except for Oshawa and Peterborough
and the one tour we had out east to Newfoundland
but no one really saw us there. 
People were very friendly, 
though when we said we were from Toronto 
a lot of people shuddered 
and one shopkeeper wouldn't let us use his toilet. 
Inland, it was nice, 
but right on the east coast it was very rainy and cold
I think 7 degrees in August. 
We had a really nice time 
but I missed the food from home. 
We had a lot of Keith's, 
deep-fried fish 
and white-bread sandwiches. 

There are many different influences all over the album.

It was written over the course of a couple of years,
and I often like to write songs based on other songs
that I hear and am interested in
so rather than having a whole record 
influenced by certain things,
it's more like each song 
is influenced 
by something different.

Do the musicians in your band bring their influences with them?

Each member definitely brings 
their own influence to the band,
but we all work together 
to make sure that all parts 
support the song as it is.

What other bands do the members of BEAMS play in?

Keith has the Hamilton Trading Company
Mike plays with Danielle Duval, Luke Bill, 
The Whirly Birds (and occasionally with Trish Robb, 
Jack Marks, the Cameron Brothers, 
Flowers of Hell, 
and some other less formal stuff
... he's a bit of a hired gun), 
Martin sits in with Dani Nash, 
and the Marlboros when they play. 
Beams is...the main thing 
for most of us right now

working with Peter J. Moore was so much fun.
Fresh espresso every morning,
Vinny's panini that was a bit too spicy,
recording in beautiful-sounding rooms
and hearing ourselves back how we wanted to sound.

How did you decide upon/ connect with Peter J Moore?
Mike had worked with him 
for a Flowers of Hell recording. 
Basically, we heard the Flowers of Hell recording 
("Odes" - check it out!) 
and it was so beautiful that 
we knew we had to work with him.
What was your favourite moment in the studio?

There were many favourite moments 
of the recording process for me.
Maybe the moment when 
I heard Dave's mandolin parts for the first time 
and realized how creative a writer he really is.
Everyone performed really well.

What Toronto acts are you really into right now?

There are so many incredible Toronto talents.
Some of them have become more Canadian than Toronto,
so it gets a little confusing about where a band is ‘from’,
but I'll try.
a tear for those that have passed

You’re in school, yeah? 
What do you study?

I study forest conservation science and GIS.

Does that have an influence on what you do as an artist?

I'm not sure that it matters exactly what I study,
but having a source of outside knowledge and inspiration,
having to face many challenges
and think about problems outside of my own
definitely keeps me writing.

Little snippets definitely make it into songs.
in "Where my cabin lies", for example
I'm talking about how small roads and paths
generally open up the way for development,
human occupation and deforestation,
accompanying a loss in biodiversity...
in the context of our beloved Paudash Lake.

what's your favourite species of tree? 

I love Silver Maples because they get so giant
and their branches look like furry arms.
Their branching pattern is very unique.
I also love Sycamores and London Planetrees 
because their bark is super-cool and splotchy. 
You can tell them apart because Sycamores have two fruits 
and London Planetrees have one.

How has your experience of performing changed since the Papermakers?

Katie and I had a really deep connection 
that was a lot of fun on stage 
because we could basically read each others' minds. 
I have never had the Katie-Anna experience on stage again, 
but now there are little moments with everyone in the band
 and it is powerful to feel like seven people are melding 
into one voice that everyone is hearing. 
Teamwork is beautiful. I like the freedom that comes 
with being one of seven on stage instead of one of two.

Having such a large band definitely gives me
the freedom to try new styles and go different places
than we could (go) as a two-piece.
I've also had an interesting time
writing within the limitations of the banjo.
Its range is much different than a guitar
and it has less so I naturally write
more percussive, repetitive parts.
I'm not sure if my songwriting is getting better
but it has definitely changed a little bit.

what was the best beams show so far?

I think the most fun I've had at a Beams show...
well it's hard to say because we've had a lot of good ones,
but I really enjoyed playing at the Avro to a small,
attentive crowd where we made up an extended version
of I'm Not Human.

Where is the Avro?

The Avro is just east of Queen and Broadview. I also had a 
great time at our recent Casbah show with the Dinner Belles.
The Casbah is in Hamilton.. It was packed and I love that energy.

Where do you go out to drink ?

I guess I work at a pub, so
I don't usually end up at pubs or bistros,
I usually end up at venues or small bars,
like the Holy Oak or the Dakota.
 I don't go out much during the school year except to play shows.

Those are both good spots. What’s the coolest corner in TO?

I like the southwest corner at Davenport and Spadina,
because it's a nice view to look up.
It always makes me wanna climb the stairs to Casa Loma.
Dufferin and Davenport is also a really beautiful intersection-
if you're standing on the Northeast side,
the view is pretty spectacular. I like to perch.

DO you ingest TV? Radio?

CBC is pretty good.
I don't really listen to the radio.

What are you reading?

"The Global Forest" by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.
It's filled with ancient and modern wisdom about forests.

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