The Houston Blues: An Interview with The Beans

Within the year following the release of their self-titled debut album, hometown rockers The Beans have quite apparently taken over the Houston music scene. It’s Brendan Hall (drums), Sam Griffin (vocals), Christian Galatoire (guitar), and Daniel Taylor’s (bass) raw, gritty rock and roll, modern-day psychedelic sound that has made its mark on listeners and propelled the band to playing on the same stages as Alabama Shakes, Japandroids, and Passion Pit.

Along with Austin-based band The Couch and The Docs who hail from Bryan, Texas, The Beans will be “melting faces” and “shaking asses” this Friday, January 17th at their highly-anticipated show at Fitzgeralds upstairs. See what The Beans had to say about the big show, as well as the Houston music scene, below, and make sure to get your tickets for this Friday. Doors are at 8.

What has been a major change you have seen since the release of your debut album, ‘The Beans’, in January 2013?

I think the material on ‘The Beans’ really lends itself to an album format because they are songs that people seem to appreciate the more that they hear them.  I feel that things have continuously escalated from there because the more people appreciate and like your music the more they share it, which leads to playing bigger shows, which leads to more people being exposed to your music, which leads to playing more shows outside of Houston, which leads to getting asked to play Free Press Summerfest and New Years Eve, which leads to more exposure, etc.  Also, the release of our first album gave us great drive and focus on what are goals are as musicians.  It also, strangely, spurred us to try and improve and begin writing and performing new material. We probably have enough material for a second album and we plan to begin that process very shortly.

Your music has been revered for its raw, psychedelic, throwback grittiness. Who has been your sole influences while writing and recording your music?

Revered? That’s a lovely sentiment. The band’s influences are wide, varied, and forever evolving. I think that although we may have been unaware of it at the time realism is the strongest influence on the album.  It is something we are more aware of now writing songs for the second album that what we like best and what people can connect with most are honest emotions plainly put and honestly plaid.  That is the pinnacle of what we strive for.  I also think being barflies has had a large impact on our music, the more that we have played outside of Houston the more I have realized that the average person who frequents any dive anywhere at almost any age will probably dig at least a couple of our songs and that is a really good feeling.  I think as we grow more confident as a band we are doing more to establish ourselves apart from our influences, but you can definitely hear some of Junior Kimbrough, Townes Van Zandt, Lightin’ Hopkins, Charles Mingus, and Wilco in our music.

The Beans perform “What You’ve Always Wanted” at Fitzgeralds

Listening to your album, ‘The Beans’, it sometimes sounds like the songs are live recordings of a pure, passionate jam session. What is the recording process like for you guys? Is it this natural and authentic? 

Personally I think the album is more of a simulated rawness, but we decidedly wanted it to have a live and natural sound and it is flattering to hear that it sounds pure.  Honestly, I don’t think we were all at Sugarhill at the same time more than an hour or two while making the album which is remarkable because the whole process lasted about 9 months.  Brendan went in and recorded the drums to a click track by himself and we all built off of that individually.  There are light drum samples and percussion, some guitar doubling and overdubbing, and lots of organ that we can’t reproduce live, but the album is largely just how we play the songs and in that sense it is authentic.  There is no auto-tuning or playing the same lick over and over again until it is absolutely perfect, or anything like that.  The philosophy was more get your point across and move on.  Along with our producer, John Griffin, we tried to create the best possible natural tone, push ourselves for the most passionate performances and tried not worry about our mistakes because they add to the frenzy of the album.  Basically, recording is really fucking hard.

In what ways has being from Houston impacted the band’s dynamic, or your music, and why do you think it’s important to stay true to your roots? 

I think Townes Van Zandt said it best, “If you can’t catch the blues in Houston, man, you can’t catch them anywhere.”  Houston is all about the blues and the blues is at the core of every note that we play.  I think that growing up listening to local and regional artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and others has shaped our ideals of raw, poetic, and real songs, real recordings, of unadulterated passion and spurts of humor.  If you add to that base, some psychedelia, and growing up in our modern era you essentially have the Beans.  We are not purists, but we love and respect the tradition that we come from and we could not stray too far from it without drastically changing ourselves.

What other local artists have you guys been into lately? 

We will always and forever support the funk odyssey that is The Journey Agents.  We have jammed a lot with Nathan Quick and are excited to hear the release that he is working on.  Also, Daniel has played with Alycia Miles in the past and really enjoys her music as well as everyone else from the Renaissance Suite.  We haven’t had a chance to go to a show yet, but we were recently introduced to Mad Maude and the Hatters and from what we have heard we love their vocal harmonies – if we had 1/3 of their harmony talent we would be a much better band.

What can we expect from your show at Fitzgeralds on the 17th with The Docs and The Couch? 

Hours of really good modern blues based rock.  A raw and unfiltered exposure of ourselves. You can expect a sweaty and sultry journey from stage to audience and back again.  We want to melt your face and shake your ass.

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