Most bands put up a rational facade to hide their inner weirdness and commercialize themselves, but Beats Antique says, “to hell with that, we want you to party in animal heads on stage with us.” I got the chance to ask Beats Antique members David Satori, Sidecar Tommy, and Zoe Jakes a few questions before shooting the final show of their tour in San Francisco. Getting to speak with the surprisingly rational voices behind this group of world-electronic influenced story-tellers has made me see a very distinct method to their madness: to create an intensely visceral musical and visual experience that invites you to expand your mind and say yes to the journey.
NOTE: For a fully immersive experience stream their new album A Thousand Faces here:
LMB: You guys are doing this tour in support of your new album A Thousand Facesthat you just released last month. You guys have a really loyal fan base. On this tour, how has the crowd reaction been to the new stuff?
David Satori: We’ve been having really positive reactions to our new show and the album. We’re always really grateful to our fans to allow us to experiment. To give us permission to do whatever we want. We don’t feel trapped that we have to deliver the same kind of thing. We feel like we get to change it up a lot and we’re grateful they want to come on the ride with us.
LMB: When you were creating this album, was there a central guiding theme bringing you toward a final product?
DS: Yea we wanted to tell a story. We wanted to make an album and a show at the same time. Previous to this, our show has been a collection of songs from different albums and different things, and always something that’s a lot of fun. With this one we wanted to make it so it was a visceral process. We wanted to tell a story, and do something with more intention behind it. Because of Jeffrey Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces” we were kinda guided through making the concept album and the show.
LMB: As musicians you get to wear so many different faces in Beats Antique. As well as being inspired by Jeffrey Campbell’s book, is the name of the album a play on how Beats Antique gets to wear these different faces?
Sidecar Tommy: It’s more about the audience being the hero because to us that’s our inspiration. That’s what makes it possible for us to do this work. The A Thousand Faces title can be interpreted as: that’s our fans. The faces: those are the people watching the show.
DS: But I do agree that it’s interpretive, and in the group we do get to wear a lot of hats to play in the different genres that we do play in. It’s about that and the audience. It’s about us and the people who come on the journey with us.
LMB: Your guys’ music is such a clash of eastern and western sounds. I know you guys have such a big influence in world music and cultures like David in afrobeat and Zoe with bellydancing, but how did the dubstep, glitch, electronic element come in? ST: I think that has to do with just the current state of the music people are listening to right now, and also our influences from our community coming from the Bay Area. Also, it’s really just fun to play with different inspirations and palettes of sound.
Zoe Jakes: Also, when we first came together, we were hired to make an electronic middle-eastern album. So, electronic has really been synonymous with our sound from the beginning.
ST: I think for the most part it’s kind of like all the lines have been blurred and all the genre stuff has meshed. Sometimes we come in and say lets do something like this or like that, but in reality it shapes itself. By the end of the time we’re done writing the song, its totally different from what we started with.
LMB: Do you guys talk about yourselves as a World influenced electronic group or vice versa?
DS: I’d say it’s both. Not one more than the other really. I do see myself as more of an acoustic musician than an Electronic musician. I didn’t grow up DJing; I grew up playing in bands. That’s where our roots are.
LMB: Album to album then, do you ever think that ‘this needs to have a heavier Electronic feel’ or ‘maybe a more melodic feel?’
ST: This album has really been a totally new experience. In that has pushed us out of our box and forced us to explore new territory with something a little more dynamic. Yeah sometimes we do feel like ‘Oh we’ve been so heavy so lately lets do something more chill’ or the other way around, but this album has definitely challenged us to be very dynamic.
LMB: From this album being very diverse, did you guys come at it any differently than before from a production stand point?
ST: Yeah, we did do a lot of live sound sourcing. As far as a lot of the electronics goes, we set up a whole Dub station with all of our toys and nick-nacks and stuff. Drum machines, samplers, keyboards, and stuff and we would jam along to the sketches we were making and that helped create the sonic palette. We definitely went really far in the live element, and brought in guest musicians and special collaborators. We brought in Les Claypool on bass. We brought in Alam Khan. You know, a lot of different elements.
LMB: Speaking of Les Claypool, you guys got to work with him on the track “Beezlebub” that he lent his bass playing and vocals for. What was it like working with such a legendary musician like him?
ST: Yea it was an honor. I‘ve listened to him ever since I started listening to bands. I remember being like 12 years old and being really into Primus. He was a really huge influence and I remember just never hearing anything like that before. It blew my mind. So to be able to send him a message and have him collaborate with him was great. We didn’t even go into the studio together. I mean that was all through e-mail, so that was definitely a 21st century collaboration right there.
Beats Antique - Beelzebub Feat. Les Claypool
LMB: One track I really wanted to ask you about that was one of my favorites on the album, was “Doors of Destiny.” It has such a funny element of spoken word in being part carnival game show, bad jokes and all, and part filthy dubstep track. Where did you guys get inspired to do a track like that?
ST: Me and Zoe where in a band called The Yard Dogs Road Show, and Micah & Leighton, the speakers on that track, were sort of the carny barkers of that band, so we really wanted to tip the hat to those guys and that whole project as part of our history. It’s fun when you can have a bunch of friends come down to the studio and just talk about a bunch of ridiculous stuff and make it into a song. The fun part for us was incorporating that Dubstep part, which was really fun and in kind of a tongue and cheek way. That like the prize you get. You deal with this album, and that’s what you get. We also wanted to tip the hat to all the Dubstep tunes you know, give ‘em what they want. And in the live show it gives us a really fun opportunity to interact with the crowd.