This band's most recent release "Living Targets" has been received with open arms by fans and critics alike...and for good reason. The album is catchy as hell and just straight-up rocks! If you have never heard of this band, here is a chance to get some background on them.
Interview by "Slick" Nick Smith
You Americans must think you're pretty cool with your low taxes, great weather and quick release dates for movies. Well in one instance, us Europeans had one up on you, because the new BEATSTEAKS album, "Living Targets," has been available to us for a number of months now, whereas you lot are just about to get it for yourselves. You've therefore been deprived of the solid riffage, balanced pace and mesmerizing hooky choruses of arguably the finest record of the year. I caught up with one of their greased up guitarists Peter Baumann at their London Forum show on May 29th, opening up for FENIX*TX and UK pop-metalers 'A' on a tour that had more than its fair share of laughs and surprises. Thanks a lot to Nita for setting this up.
Pastepunk: Do you think your new album got over-looked in favor of the new BAD RELIGION?
Peter: Why should I complain if people like the album or not? Maybe a promotion guy would complain about the timing but there can never be a best time for anything so we just put it out. We'll see. We tour a lot. We're not a band who hopes for the one good song. We're just continuously working.
Pastepunk: Was the production of "Living Targets" a simple one?
Peter: It was definitely too long, almost a year but we toured in between and there was a kinda confusing production. We spent two and a half months with the producer of "Launched" but weren't really satisfied with the resulting ten songs. There was just something missing. It sounded too clean and had too much head-work and so we decided to record with Billy Gould. He came to Berlin, and in ten days we recorded the rest of the album.
Pastepunk: Yeah I read it was a real quick recording.
Peter: Yeah very quick, like six songs in ten days, the opposite of what we did before but it fitted really well.
Pastepunk: Have you been pleased with the response to it? I personally think it's the best of 2002 so far!
Peter: Oh yeah, we didn't expect it to be this good actually. I thought that people who liked us from the very beginning would find it too clean-sounding but in the end it wasn't. Actually it was the kind of response you hope for when you make an album, but you can't predict that of course. You can't write songs for anyone. You just hope for the best.
Pastepunk: What inspired the song 'Not Ready To Rock' on the new album, and why was it chosen to open it?
Peter: The word 'rock' and phrase 'punk rock' has been worn out over the last few years and all these new 'punk rock' bands don't really go together in my mind. So it was kind of a statement for the album of not being ready to rock, but of course we are!
Pastepunk: I could definitely see some of these new songs gaining chart success. Have you ever been offered any major label backing?
Peter: Yeah there's been some offers more or less but right now we don't even look at anything because we're still on Epitaph. We'll see how things go. It's definitely too early to talk about the change of the record label or whatever, you know?
Pastepunk: Are you glad to see more traditional rock 'n' roll bands like the STROKES and WHITE STRIPES and the HIVES etc. becoming more successful?
Peter: How do I find that? I don't really know. We should be happy that this kind of music draws a bigger audience. It's a pleasure actually that those bands exist. But I'm not sure about the STROKES because I'm very sensitive to where a band comes from and what they've done so far.
Pastepunk: But saying that, your band didn't take that long to get very successful.
Peter: You think? I don't know, I have a feeling we took every step so far. There's nobody freaking out or anything, we're very down to earth. We know what we are and what we can do. We don't over-estimate ourselves but I think it's easy to do so. We're more a working band.
Pastepunk: How did it feel to support the SEX PISTOLS back in the mid-90s?
Peter: We played one show with them and it was our tenth gig. We weren't really a band so we didn't digest that very easily. We were, like, "wow! the SEX PISTOLS!" We played in front of thousands of people, like five to seven thousand, which is much too large an audience for a small band like us. But it sounds nice on your band bio!
Pastepunk: Yeah, not many new punk bands get to play with them obviously.
Peter: Yeah, we were very lucky.
Pastepunk: What do you think of them now, what with them re-releasing their new single etc?
Peter: I've still got their old videos and that was definitely punk rock for me. That's why I said earlier that I'm a little bit tired of the word 'punk rock' because that's what they did at the specific time. We are not punk rock, we're just looking at it and trying to get some influence. Most bands that call themselves punk rock these days are not really. Call yourselves something else, it's 2002. SEX PISTOLS... CLASH... That's punk rock.
Pastepunk: How was playing the Deconstruction Fest last year? You were a late addition to the bill, which was a fantastic surprise for me.
Peter: Yeah, we played that over here I think. They went crazy for us. I don't know why but it makes you feel very comfortable. It's not like people standing watching from a distance, they got into it straight away. With English crowds, if they like you, they have to make the decision regardless of anything else, you know. It's different in Germany because you get checked out all the time.
Pastepunk: Are you noticing a larger increase to your fan base through this hectic touring schedule?
Peter: Yeah, I hope so and it feels like it. There's not this huge boom and then all of a sudden you're playing to thousands of people. It's very slow but it's working I guess.
Pastepunk: Do you ever get homesick? Is it tough being away from families for long periods of time?
Peter: Yeah, it is sometimes. You need a stable background at home. You can't handle a girlfriend who's, like, 'Waaagh!' on the phone. You have to have someone who's willing to share this with you and who's willing to make the commitment. I'm a musician and that's how it's gonna be.
Pastepunk: What do you think of 'A'? They're getting pretty huge now.
Peter: Nice band and great people, I wish them the best.
Pastepunk: So how did you get on this tour?
Peter: We met 'A' before whilst playing in Berlin and instantly got along. They blew me away actually when I saw them first and since then, there's been a loose contact. Then they invited us to play with them.
Pastepunk: So what about FENIX*TX, are you friends with them as well?
Peter: No, we just met them on tour. We don't know much about them, different buses etc.
Pastepunk: Oh yeah, I heard your bus got attacked in Coventry.
Peter: Yeah someone threw something at the roof. That's probably the most exciting tour story that we have.
Pastepunk: What exactly is a "beatsteak?"
Peter: I don't even know how the name came up. I always thought it was a very stupid name but now I like it. It's catchy. I'm very happy that we never thought about it or sat around a round table thinking of the name of our band. I like it. I'm used to it now.
Pastepunk: You're one of the more original, hard to classify bands on the circuit, do you make a conscious effort to keep the material fresh and exciting?
Peter: Yeah, at least for us. We always take that into our frame of mind and try to make it fresh for us. We will always be a kind of rock band because we have guitar, we have bass and drums, nothing really exciting. But I think it's even more boring if you play just one direction of music. We have fun in the practice room. We have to try ourselves out. It's more exciting to try something you can't really play that well. It's more of a challenge and it keeps you thinking. It keeps your mind open, and since we listen to all kinds of shit, it's all in our music.
Pastepunk: You effortlessly blur the boundaries between punk and rock 'n' roll, why those two genres? Is half the band into rock, the other into punk?
Peter: I guess it started out with punk, which is where our main influence is from. We'll never deny or get rid of the punk roots, but it's more about the punk attitude than playing punk music. If we have to describe our music, then rock and punk rock fits it best. Of course it's wider but it's too complicated to explain to everybody what you sound like.
Pastepunk: What do you do when not in the studio or on the road? Have you been able to quit your day job yet?
Peter: No we're not able to quit our day jobs. I'm sometimes a runner for other productions, working as a stagehand, or behind a bar as a bartender - anything to earn money before we tour again.
Pastepunk: Has the fact that English isn't your first language ever hindered your chances of success do you think?
Peter: No, except we sometimes couldn't get in contact with English speaking bands that well so they probably thought we were arrogant or something. It's more a personal thing. The music was always universal. Either you like it or you don't. But it's harder to connect with people on tour because everybody speaks English.
Pastepunk: How does a song get from inside your heads onto CD?
Peter: That's difficult. It's probably recorded on an 8-track for us, like the main riff or whatever and line for the voice. Then we'll play it in the practice room and figure out quite soon what we all like and how to change things more. It'll be one rough idea then we work altogether until we're satisfied with it.
Pastepunk: You all contribute to the songwriting. Does that have any disadvantages would you say?
Peter: Only if you're egocentric but you have to be able to take no for an answer. But it doesn't really cause any major bust-ups in the band. We've known each other a long time and are all friends more than musicians I guess.
Pastepunk: What's in store for the future?
Peter: There were three years between the new record and the last one, which is too long. Normally just U2 can do that or something. We definitely want to be more busy. We'll put the new record out earlier.
Pastepunk: Do you have anything else to add?
Peter: Come to the concerts if you can and if you have no money it won't be that expensive. That's another bad thing I've witnessed, that most bands that get big, or are big already, take so much money for T-shirts and tickets. No one can tell me they don't have any influence. They're your tickets and T-shirts and you can keep the price down. I thought in Germany they wouldn't recognize it but they do and they're cool with the prices. Thanks.
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