Beight return with big bag of hooks
A fixture on the local club circuit in the mid-2000s, where they built a loyal following for their no-frills clean and crisp pop-rock sound on the back of a seemingly weekly gig schedule, Beight dropped off the radar right as they seemed primed for ascendance to wider acclaim. Bandleader Brad Senne turned his attention to an acoustic solo career, other members moved on to their own projects, and the local music community was left to wonder what could have been for a quartet whose combination of beautiful harmonies and shimmering hooks recalled estimable Minnesota forebears like the Hang Ups and other masters of the jangle-pop form like Matthew Sweet.
While to the outside eye it may have looked as though Beight had bitten the dust, the band's members held a soft spot for the group's sound and kept the idea of a reunion in the air, even as months went by without playing together. It helped that the cause of Beight's hiatus was the polar opposite of your typical creative-burnout band splintering.
"Our problem was actually that things came so easily for us that we started writing too many songs and didn't know where to go with the sound. It was all just getting a little fragmented," recalls Senne, over early-evening beers with his fellow thirtysomething bandmates (bassist Andre Leroux, drummer Josh Lemoine, and guitarist Brian Just). Beight's extended break began in mid-2007 and ended just a few months back with the decision to finish up and release a long-awaited sophomore album, B8.
"The newer songs were going in multiple directions and we didn't know where to take them," admits Lemoine. "We never got together and said, 'Let's hit the pause button,' we just stopped playing."
"Even at the time things just sort of stopped, I think we kept the band in our hearts and were aware of the recording we had started," claims Leroux. "It just took a bit of a nudge for us to finally put a bow on it and decide we were ready to present it to people."
In a case of modern-technology-abetted serendipity, that nudge came in the form of Brian Just's iPod playlist shuffle. "I was on the light rail and the instrumental mixes [of what would eventually become Beight's new album] came up on the shuffle on my iPod, and I was just bowled over by them, because I hadn't listened to it in such a long time. I immediately realized it was something we should finish and called up all of the guys."
Even imagining the songs that make up B8 as Just heard them, sans vocals, it's easy to hear why they impress. While sticking to a straightforward two guitars/drums/bass template, the tunes' wriggling-earworm instrumental arrangements range from hard-charging Oasis-inspired Anglophile rock (opening track "Bang Bang") to rubbery bass-line power-pop nuggets ("Shiny Armor") and dreamy gossamer-guitar balladry ("Dizzy"). It's the sound of a tight, locked-in band, which Beight undoubtedly was back when the tunes were cut live in the studio in a one-day session at Ed Ackerson's Flowers Studio in 2007.
"At the time, we were playing every week and playing so frequently that we recorded all of those songs completely live in one or two takes," recalls Just.
Rather than tinker with the tunes that still captivated their imaginations years later, the boys in Beight pressed full-steam ahead and decided to finish the album with the same first-take best-take approach.
"There are things that could have been redone on these songs, but ultimately I think the energy is there and that's the most important part," says Senne. "I could have sat down and been super picky about all of it, but I decided to have fun with it instead. We recorded all of the vocals in one night at my basement studio and had a blast. It may have been started years ago but all it took to finish was a couple six-packs and four hours."
With their reunion spurred on by friendship and a shared sense that songs so undeniably catchy deserved a public airing, the men of Beight aren't looking to conquer the world. They'll settle for pleasing themselves...and their parents.
"Of all the projects that I've ever been involved with, this is the first one where I really feel like I could give it to my parents and say, 'Hey, look what I did!," admits Leroux, as our conversation winds down. "'Do you remember all that crap I was listening to growing up that gave you a headache? Well listen to this, you'll actually like it!'"
BEIGHT plays a CD-release show with Villa and A Crack in the Damn on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, at the 331 CLUB; 612.331.1746
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