Out of the Beardspace

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

Today I talk to Jeremy Savo of the Philadelphia-based band Out of the Beardspace. If you’re in the area, go see their show on January 11 with past BandsLikeZappa feature Statospheerius. And also check out their new experimental EP.

Ben Sommer:  I’m here with Jeremy from the band, Out of Beardspace. Jeremy, first of all, tell me about the band, and if you don’t mind to start with this out of left field name you guys came up for yourselves.

Jeremy Savo: Well, the name is Out of the Beardspace, and it comes from an idea and the idea is of the beard space, and it’s a simple idea. It’s just when you stroke your beard, you are in the beard space.

Ben: Got it.

Jeremy: So if you think of the famous statue of the thinker, it’s basically you are in thought, and so out of the beard space simply means that it’s a creation that you make, so it’s something that came of your thoughts.

Ben: Are you guys hirsute, all have beards or any facial hair of some kind?

Jeremy: Actually, only one of us does.

Ben: Oh. My favorite music blog these days is BeardRock.com. They have a similar gimmick. Everything is facial hair themed.

Jeremy: Yeah. We haven’t gone there. I’m actually not sure we can go there yet. We are pretty young.

Ben: Oh, well, how old are you guys?

Jeremy: Our oldest member is about to turn 22 and our youngest member is 18.

Ben: Oh, wow. So your music style is very progressive. You’ve all got chops obviously. Usually kids with those kind of chops and who are playing such a harmonically, rhythmically, adventurous music have some sort of jazz background. Is that true with you guys?

Jeremy: We actually have a rock background. We all went to a place called The School of Rock, but one of the main themes of this School of Rock was Frank Zappa.

Ben: Oh.

Jeremy: And so we all basically, throughout our teenage years, spent a lot of our time learning and performing all sorts of different songs from all sorts of different genres, but mostly with a rock background and then it’s been actually in more recent times that we’ve all gotten into jazz.

Ben: School of Rock, what is this? I’ve heard of this, but who runs this?

Jeremy: Well, when we went there, it used to be ran by a guy called Paul Green who actually founded this school and he created this school, which is now across the country. But we all went in Cherry Hill and most of us, but actually all of us except one of use was in something called the All-Stars. There were all these schools all over the East Coast and the All-Stars brought together. It was like an audition group. It brought together the best of the schools, and through that we got to go on tour and play with some people like Jon Anderson from Yes and Napoleon Murphy Brock from Frank Zappa and John Wetton from King Crimson.

Ben: Wow, and so I’m looking it up now as we talk, so it’s a Philly area kind of thing. Is that true?

Jeremy: That’s what started it, but it’s as far as California and Texas now.

Ben: Right, right. So I’m so out of step. I mix up that stupid movie with the School of Rock. Now, I’ve heard it mentioned several times. In fact, there is this girl. I forgot her name. She’s a young bassist, kind of a hot shot. She has played with a lot of progressive musicians. I follow her on Twitter. I think she went to School of Rock, too.

Jeremy: Julie Slick?

Ben: Yeah. That’s the one.

Jeremy: Yeah, her and her brother.

Ben: So it spawned some minor stars, so that’s pretty cool as you guys are carrying on the tradition. Did you guys go to college?

Jeremy: Well, currently, none of us go to college full time. Three of us go to college part time, which means basically we each take two classes at the community college down the street. But I used to go to college for Music Industry briefly and Sam, our keyboard player went to Berkeley for two years and Zack, our other guitar player, went to school for music for two years. We kind of all pulled out from that a little bit to more concentrate on our band and on other things that we are into.

Ben: Good, God bless you. These days it’s a sucker’s game if you try to spend all that money for a degree that’s worth next to nothing in the end.

Jeremy: Thanks for the blessings because we definitely don’t get them from everyone on that.

Ben: Yeah, aside from owning a house – and I think going to college is next to line – is like the American religion. If you stood in a street corner in Times Square or in Philly somewhere and said, “Going in college is the biggest scam in the world,” people will throw stones at you versus if you tell all sorts of disgusting things, “The world is ending,” they wouldn’t care.

Jeremy: I guess it depends where in New York and Philadelphia you go, but if you went to the Occupy Movements, they would probably agree with you.

Ben: Right, you are right. Well, it’s changing fast for sure. So you all are shacked up together. So listen, I’m a guy in my late 30s who has taken a different course and I’m reading about all the opportunities young musicians have now that the major label system is kind of cracked up in the music industry. The old style industry with the way it was run is kind of dead. This is what people like myself grew up with, and I’m kind of jealous of you guys, you young kids who are taking an independent path. You have all these technologies and tools available to you. I’m jealous and I just wanted to know, is it an exciting for you? Do you have a sense of like where things are at? What were your places in history? I mean, I hope you appreciate it.

Jeremy: It’s definitely an exciting time and I think we all feel somewhat empowered versus how we felt when we were in school because when we were in school, we thought that we would be basically having to spend the rest of our lives in facilities like the schools we were in, like corporate offices and things like that. We thought we would just have to do that, and I think when we found out that we didn’t and that we could actually do it like pursue our true interests and passions that that was really liberating, and hearing you say that the industry has changed and that the old industry is dying is actually really encouraging because it never sounded like a very good industry to be a part of. But right now, it’s definitely an exciting time. There are definitely times of doubt as well when close ones and relatives and family members and friends tell you that you are on a path to nowhere.

Ben: Right, well, let’s say you are and you burn ten years having fun and kind of half starving, and then you would take and pick another career, these days it takes young people that long to figure out what the hell they want to do with their career anyway. They stumble from job to job until they land on something they stick with. So take it from someone who has been down that road while trying to pursue music in the side. It’s better to take the gamble, and if you’ve got talent and the environment is right, and I think it is, now is the time to try for it.

Jeremy: Sure. And if I don’t find success, so to speak, with music being… sort to say that if our band doesn’t become commercially salable and we have to work other jobs or if eventually we don’t want to be in this band anymore, then that would be okay, too, as long as we make some great music that we love and can share with people along the way. That would be worth it.

Ben: Definitely. What’s your role in the band? You are the primary songwriter? Or did I get that wrong?

Jeremy: There is no primary songwriter, which is one of the reasons why our music is very eclectic sounding. Actually, everyone in the band writes, and we all take about an even share. My role is that I play guitar and I sing and I also have a large role in our EP, which was self-produced and recorded at home.

Ben: Cool. So you are the main engineer then?

Jeremy: I think I would get in trouble if I said that, but I would say we all worked with the software. I would say me, Sam, the keyboard player, and Zack, the guitarist were the main engineers and the producers.

Ben: I mean, it sounds good. Well, it’s obviously live. I mean, do you record everything live?

Jeremy: Well, it’s not totally live. We laid down a backing track live, so we would have, on all of the tracks except one, it was all of us playing together and then we did extensive overdubbing.

Ben: All right.

Jeremy: It was kind of ala-Roxy & Elsewhere where they’ve recorded all the songs live and then they went into the studio and overdubbed it extensively. So that’s kind of the idea that I was going for that.

Ben: Right. Oh, that way you get the best of both worlds. You can get away from playing to a click track so you get the human feel and maybe you get a few instruments out of the bass track and then you can tack on a couple of isolated instruments to make a good final product.

Jeremy: Yeah, we actually had some technical problems when we were recording our bass tracks and we wound up recording the whole band and having it mixed down to only two tracks because our interface broke, but we were so driven to just capture the magic that we were experiencing at that time that we just kind of went with that, and so we didn’t have the option of pulling out an instrument or even turning it down.

Ben: What was that one song you did that for?

Jeremy: No, for the five tracks we’ve recorded with all of us playing together, and when we recorded it live, it was all mixed down into the computer. It came into the computer on two tracks, so there was like a left channel and a right channel.

Ben: Oh, I get it. You didn’t even have separation.

Jeremy: Yeah, we did not have a track with guitar and a track with bass and a track with bass drum and a track with snare. We just had left. And right.

Ben: So then you tacked some other things on top of that stereo recording. Is that it?

Jeremy: Yes.

Ben: I get it. Okay. So that’s what I was thinking. Well, it’s good. I mean, it doesn’t have the super separation. In a sense, with someone like me, we are all have been used to super produced, super isolated tracks kind of that production. Whatever the genre you hear, a live recording, that stereo just sounds old fashioned and takes this kind of jarring, but it’s very cool way to do it, especially with the style of music.

Jeremy: Yeah, I felt that. I mean, I had no choice but to record it that way because of the technical problems I was having. I felt that it exuded the music pretty well.

Ben: Yeah. So what are you guys doing now to try to get fame, fortune or at least notoriety and more bread on the table? What’s your plan and strategy?

Jeremy: It’s funny that you say more bread on the table. One thing we do is grow a large garden here in our backyard. So that’s one thing that we work on simultaneously with our music. But we’ve been working on just kind of trying to spread our name out. We’ve been doing that. We printed out a whole bunch of stickers and we are trying to put them in high traffic areas in the city that we live now, which is Philadelphia, and also around the area where we live and so our name is recognizable and then just basically talking to people that we meet on our travels daily and just kind of… I don’t know what the right word is, like emanating that this is what we are and this is what we did. As much as possible just to spread that awareness and setting up things like this interview and just getting into whatever little bubble we can get into.

Ben: Excellent. So keep it up. Maybe even do some videos of your gigs. Are you guys gigging a lot?

Jeremy: Yeah. We had been and we took a break because we wanted to refresh our set list, and I think we may start going for like a one show a month type of thing roughly because we feel like if we are playing all of our shows in one area, if we are not going to tour yet, it’s best not to stack them all on top of each other because we had done that, and we had played like 12 shows in two months all in Philadelphia.

Ben: Yeah.

Jeremy: And it gets a little bit redundant.

Ben: Yeah. Too much, the fan base is only so big.

Jeremy: Yeah.

Ben: Yeah, it makes sense. Do you have any new events coming up, any releases?

Jeremy: Yes, actually, this coming Saturday, which is, let’s see, what date is that? The 26th of November, we are releasing a suite that is 20 minutes long, one continuous piece of music. It was written entirely on the computer. There is no real instruments in it except for one guitar that lasts for about 20 seconds and it was written by all of us in the band and it was passed around in an email chain before we live together for months being added onto and it’s like one- to two-minute segments with 13 parts.

Ben: Oh.

Jeremy: And we are releasing it on Saturday.

Ben: So what did you pass around, like a MIDI file?

Jeremy: No, we actually passed around an MP3 file.

Ben: Oh.

Jeremy: So it got pretty dirty. The signal got pretty dirty after being passed around so long. Right now, we are just kind of re-exporting everything, cleaning it up and printing it up.

Ben: So I mean, what’s the sound source? Synthesized stuff?

Jeremy: Yeah, it was some MIDI, some audio samples, things like that. It was done on Logic, Pro Tools and [through loops 00:17:07].

Ben: Oh, well, I can’t imagine what it would be, so I’m excited to hear it. So well, keep plugging away and keep in touch, and I wish you lot of luck.

Jeremy: Thank you. Thanks for the interview.


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