Interview: Beau - Avail
Hailing from Richmond, VA, AVAIL is arguably the most thrilling band on the planet. It's a band that is intelligent, exciting, passionate and one which can rock like no other. Interview with cheerleader Beau in Wales, April 2003.
..OK, youve just released your new album, Front Porch Stories. How much of an improvement do you feel it is when compared with the previous album, One Wrench?
..Beau) I think its an improvement because we actually knew what we were doing this time. We went in with more of a game plan than we did with One Wrench. We did have a game plan for One Wrench, but this time we knew exactly what we wanted to achieve. We knew how long we wanted to take for certain vocal parts we basically allowed ourselves a lot more time. I think this is the longest we have been in the studio and the most professional we have been in the studio also. So, that was the only different approach
..Is there a reason you changed studios and producers from the previous two albums?
..Beau) Basically, we just wanted to do something a little more different. We had heard stuff that Brian Paulson had done and we definitely liked it. Let me say that Mark Miley the guy who produced both One Wrench and Over The James - is an excellent producer. By no means would we ever say anything bad about him, we like him and we hang out with him on a normal basis. But Brian Paulson is more of a Touch and Go!, Quarterstick labels kinda producer bands that had more crunch and more power to them. Mark Miley is more of a drummer, so his stuff is driven more by rhythm as opposed to power and guitar. So, that was how we tried it and we figured that if it didnt work, wed just . Fire him!! Haha!!
And you feel it DID work then!!
..Beau) Oh yeah, I think it worked really well.
..OK, a lot of AVAIL lyrics tend to be centred around your home city of Richmond, VA. Why do you feel that necessity to promote Richmond to the extent you do?
..Beau) I dont necessarily think we are promoting it. I think we are more on the lines of sharing what we deal with on a daily basis, to people who dont. It would be stupid and ridiculous and . kinda rock starish to try to sing about things we dont really know about and try to branch out to a broader spectrum and say how everybodys scene is this amazing thing; how everybodys home town is this amazing thing, cuz we dont know everybodys scene or home town. What we do know is our home town and our scene and we know what goes on in our local government. We know what goes on with the people in the street like, I know my neighbours! So, I dont think it is promoting Richmond, but promoting what we understand. Yknow, itd be ridiculous for us to try and write a typical Fat Wreck, West Coast sounding record because:- a) we dont sound like that, b) We dont really get a lot of that stuff. We get the Punk point, but we dont get the Surf Culture, or the Bro Culture that whole dressing up to go out type thing. What we understand is sitting out on the front porch with some friends and going, "Oh yeah, were gonna have some barbeque tonight!! We got a meat grill and a vegetarian grill come over!! What do we want you to bring? I dunno bring some potato salad!" Thats the kinda thing we understand instead of trying to talk about the politics of .. anything.
Scuffletown mentions the murder rate in Richmond as being "third per capita." Is it a dangerous kinda town for an outsider to be wandering around on his own after say 10pm?
..Beau) No, no not by any means! There are definitely places that, even though weve lived there for a long, long time, we still dont go. Like, my next-door neighbour is a drug-dealer. He runs, pretty much, four or five square blocks within the general area of where I live. But Im really good friends with him. When I left for this tour, I talked to him and said, "Hey, I just put my stereo in my car and Im gonna be out of town for a couple of weeks. Can you watch them?" And he said, "Sure man, no problem." So yeah, we do deal with the crime rate to a point but primarily we dont live in the areas that are ridiculously infested with crime. We live in a different area and there is also a lot of crime in our area, but we know everybody who lives near us. Weve been in that area of Richmond for ten years and yeah, the first couple of times when we first moved there, I was like the white boy with the Pitbull. Luckily, my Pitbull was huge and I got a little respect for that.
..Didnt the band move down to Richmond from DC?
..Beau) Outside of DC
..So why choose Richmond over, say NYC, LA, San Fran or Boston?
..Beau) Three very, very, very important reasons. The night we went there Joe and Tim went FAITH NO MORE was playing at a club, a block and a half away NUCLEAR ASSAULT was playing, a half block from there was an 80s, like hair-Metal club that had bands and across the street from that was another club that had local bands going on. So, that night, there were four shows and they were amazing, literally in a three-block area. It was absolutely insane! We were like, "Fuck, we should move here." The second reason was that is was far enough away from our parents so they couldnt just show up! They couldnt just pop up at your house going, "Hi Honey, were here!" And youre like, "Oh-oh!! I havent cleaned the house ever. Me and my seventeen friends are living here and all our girlfriends are here too!" We didnt want them to walk into a place where theres like forty-two people in two rooms! The third and most important reason was that it was close enough for us to show up at our parents house and beg for food unannounced!! Hahaha!!!!!
..Flipping that on its head, a lot of your lyrics also deal with travel getting away from Richmond. How important do you feel travelling is to anybody, young or old?
..Beau) I think it gives you a sense of what you are leaving. I know a lot of people who are always, "Oh, this place sucks!" That can be Cardiff sucks, London sucks, Richmond sucks but most of those people who say that never really travel. Travelling doesnt mean going to the States, or going to the UK. It means going to, oh, Long View, Texas where, as bad as Richmond may seem sometimes you end up saying, "Oh what? This place sucks SHIT!! Richmond is soooo much better than Long View, Texas, its ridiculous." So, I think that it is relevant that you get out there and see different shit. And if you dont see different shit, but find you like a place a lot fucking better move there! At the same time, I am a homebody. When were in Richmond, I stay at home. I enjoy my house, I dont like to go out, I love where Im from and I love being there. So, I dont think it IS necessarily important to travel. If you are happy where youre at, then the adage of the grass is always greener on the other side is not necessarily true by any means.
..Being a band that tours a lot and certainly in terms of long distances do you find theres much friction between band members? I know youve been at it a long time, but do you find that there is still one little thing that Joe or Tim will do that completely pisses you off?
..Beau) Ohhh absolutely!! Absolutely! We all have certain things that drive the others nuts! There are certain things that I do and Joe and Tim and Gwomp and Ed that drive everybody or at least one other person in the van crazy. Usually it is something that we end up laughing at, like "Goddamn it! Beau did it again!" But weve also known each other long enough to be able to go, "Will you fucking stop doing that you fucking retard." And you can reply, "Fuck you!!" and then you stop doing it. Weve been around each other long enough to know how we can push each others buttons, and how not to push each others buttons!!
..So, with Ed being the newest member of the band, was there a settling in period for him?
..Beau) To a point yeah. We had known him for a long time. When we very first moved to Richmond, he dated a girl who lived across the street from us, so we saw him everyday. He kinda knew us as the young kids who had just flown in from Northern Virginia. He did fuck up though!! The worst fuck up he did? Me and Joe are notorious for needling people. If Joe starts and Im near, we both go at it were notorious for it, we do it to everybody. Anyway, Ed was like, "Yeah, I wanna play with you guys. Lets give it a go and see how it goes for a while. I just wanna make sure you guys have tough skins. If you guys do something that is wrong or bad, Im gonna tell you!" As soon as he said that, me and Joe immediately started needling him and it really hasnt stopped!! So, everytime Ed gets pissed off, we go, "I hope you have a tough skin!" And theres nothing worse than two 30-year old men telling another 30-year old man, "I hope you have a tough skin" in a really, really annoying voice like that which I just used. Its beautiful!
..It has to be done!
..Beau) Haha!! Oh yeah, it does!!
..I saw your video for West Wye today.
..Beau) Oh yeah? On P-Rock! Haha!!!
..Yeah thats it! Is it the first video you have done?
..Beau) No, its actually the second video we have done. Weve never done a video with the intentions of it going on something like P-Rock and we still dont have the intention of putting it on MTV. We did it cuz every year Fat Wreck Chords does a video comp and thats the only reason we do videos.
..Is the video making process something you personally and as a band enjoy?
..Beau) No, we actually dislike making videos. Theyre actually really frustrating and annoying. Theyre not fun my any means!
..Would you change that opinion if say, Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese was directing it?
..Beau) Absolutely not. If I had a budget of say, 1.2 million dollars the hell yeah! Wed go to the South of France, do all sorts of dumb shit! The fact is though, our video budget was a little less than $1,000. We paid our friends who run a clothing company, and happen to have a couple of really good video cameras, that money to do it. Videos are odd really. I think its really cool to see your friends on TV, be that BOTSETSFIRE or HOT WATER MUSIC, its really cool cuz theyre my friends and I know them its like, "Haha!! They look like dicks!" But I dont wanna be on the TV myself because then all my friends can go, "Haha, he looks like a dick!" So, its not something we enjoy! The only reason we gave it to P-Rock is because Russell, who owns part of P-Rock, is a really close friend of ours. He went to Eds wedding and flew from Amsterdam to be at our drummers wedding, so were really close to him. He said he really wanted a video to go on his station and we agreed because it was for him. We stressed the fact we didnt want it to be huge, that we werent aspiring to be the next huge corporate Punk band. We told him he got it because HE asked.
..When youre filming, do you feel particularly self-conscious?
..Beau) I actually dont because Im a ham! I mean, Im the one who always gets up to the front of the camera if pictures being taken. I enjoy doing that and that is part of my personality. We did a thing a couple of years ago where we went on tour with PROPAGNDHI in the States and we had a guy follow us around for two and a half weeks, so I got really used to the being a camera all the time. As far as the actual process of making the video, it sucked. Its like about ten seconds in a lit up building where we are playing its actually our drummers art space, thats where he paints and we played through this song probably ten times. Granted, its not a very long song, but TEN TIMES? And then its only shown for about a minute, if that! The outside scenario we started shooting when it was like 4 oclock in the afternoon and stopped at about 10. So, that made like a good twelve to fourteen hours of the same fucking song! It sucks how many times can you do that? When we began playing it live, we were like, "This fucking song .." I mean, we practised it for a year, we recorded it so we had to listen to it a million times in the studio, then we do a video and play it for twenty hours straight! The last thing you wanna do is paly the fucking thing again!
OK, coming off the band what are your sentiments regarding the war in Iraq?
..Beau) I have no opinion as a band member about the war in Iraq.
..What about as a person, singular?
..Beau) Ahhh, I cannot say anything for or against the war. I will not. I dont want my opinions, or Tims opinions or anyones opinion on what is going on in Iraq to reflect on the band. I can definitely say that, as a whole, I dont think anybody in AVAIL supports the war, but we do all definitely hope that all our troops, and the British troops and the Canadian troops, get home safely. Outside of that, I just hope that not too many die and . It sucks.
..Have you approved of George Bushs administration, up to but not including the war?
..Beau) Um, no. Im actually a Punk Rock Kid and I dont vote and I dont think I could give a shit less. That horrible?? Haha!!!
..Haha!! No, its cool! OK, this is kinda like a personal question I guess. You did the song, Model, which is kinda like an anti-plastic surgery tirade yeah?
..Beau) I wouldnt say plastic surgery, I would say obsessed with looks.
..OK, so you being tattooed and pierced
..Do you feel that is in any way going against the grain of the message that Model represents?
..Beau) No, because I am a little older. Yknow, Id go on tour an have full arm-sleeves and people would have no idea what to do with me, theyd just freak out. I mean, we are talking here like fifteen years ago and being a heavily tattooed, pierced, skinny, goateed person I was a freak! Even when Id go to squats people would be like, "Woo, what the fuck are you?" Back then, it was done for a kinda freakish thing. Now though, it is like the norm, so thats why I wear long sleeves so much now.
..What inspired you to get into the tattoos and body piercing?
..Beau) Being a Punk Rocker. Thered be people like Bill Danforth who used to skate whod have three or four tattoos and looked fucking great and then Henry Rollins just looked so badass in BLACK FLAG and I was like, "Thats so fucking cool." So, that was the only reason I ever really wanted to get a tattoo, cuz they looked neat. By no means was I big and burly and wanted to accent them, by no means was I on of those kids. As you can see, Im still not!
..Back to Richmond, isnt there a bar where you lot do Kareoke?
..Beau) There used to be! We used to actually go to them and sing, but now there are different bars that do it that we dont go to so much.
..What was your choice of song?
..Beau) Me? I pretty much refused to sing. I would sit there and hang out and goad people into singing songs. I was always the guy forcing other people up while I sat there chuckling! The last time we did Kareoke was in Orlando, Florida with the CASUALTIES you know, like full-bore red Mohawks and we started getting them up there for like ridiculous songs, so they then started to sing us up for ridiculous songs and I got signed up for that Right Said Fred song, Im Too Sexy. Ill tell ya, you have never seen a bar in such utter horror than you did here. I mean, its Red Neck central. You got these kids with Mohawks covered in tattoos walking in drinking beer and then me singing Right Said Fred. These guys were like, "What the fuck?" and I could hear the rest of AVAIL and the CASUALITIES laughing over the top of that. It was one of the funnier things we did on that tour.
..OK what are the AVAIL plans for after the European tour?
..Beau) After this we take two months off so I can play in my Sunday league, and Joes son can play in his Sunday league. Then well probably go and do another US tour, hopefully after that well get to Brazil and then there are no plans. I guess well just keep touring.
..Youve not thought about the follow up to Front Porch Stories then?
..Beau) No, no! Its only been out like six or seven months!
..I have to ask!
..Beau) Haha!! OK. Well tour until we decide to put out another record and if it sucks, well break up.