But there is, you'll be pleased to hear, more than
one surface to the Beulah coin. Not only can they justify
their place on that line up of peers, earned over and
over by the very fine forthcoming 'The Coast Is Never
Clear' album, and the previous and wholesome
'When Your Heartstrings Break', but there are sides
to them that that are, if not entirely unique, certainly
a touch different.
As anyone who's followed the fortunes of Pavement or
Sebadoh over the years will no doubt stand testament
to, kinship amongst personnel is by no means the most
necessary of band ingredients. But Beulah founders Miles
Kurosky and Bill Swan have never liked each
other. Not in the beginning and not now, not really.
They met as mail-boys in San Francisco and it was only
through Miles' desperation for someone with a four-track
and smidgen of musical talent that they hooked up. But
you have to suppose there's something there, as 3 albums
down the line they're both still standing.
Then there's the fact that some bands have groupies,
nay demand them. But think about that for a moment,
it's so passé, so lightweight, so last century. And
Beulah have a whole town stalking them anyway. Beat
that Kid Rock! The Welsh valley's town of Resolven (where?
Exactly) showed their appreciation so much last time
Beulah were on British soil, chartering busses to gigs,
singing every word to every song, that the band have
repaid the favour by dedicating the opening track on
the new record, 'Hello Resolven', to those good people's
memory. And, as they should, the official album launch
was held in Resolven at the end of August.
We caught up with genuinely affable and passive lead
man Miles in his London hotel two days previous to the
launch, just before playing a storming low key date
at Poptones' Radio4 club night in Notting Hill with
the volume turned to 12 and the melodies harsh, rugged
So, your album launch just two days away and here you
are playing a warm up in London before the main event
in an obscure Welsh town that nobody's ever heard of.
What's going on there then?
"Well, it was just these people, especially from this
town, Resolven, in Wales, that showed a huge interest
in our band even though we didn't even know they existed.
I think it just touched us enough - especially being
on the road, away from home, missing relationships at
home or whatever - that it meant as much to us as anything,
being that loved. It was like a beautiful one night
stand with a whole town."
Crud: So much so that you wrote an ode to the
"Yeah, exactly. It was also taking the piss out of Britain
too, saying "kill off the King, kill off the Queen,"
and everything'll be fine. Maybe it'll be a call to
arms, we'll start a civil war & just leave the mess.
It'll help record sales anyway. Better than killing
Crud: True, but from what's been written about
you it seems you and Bill could be close to killing
each other anyway? You really hate each other?
"Well, we weren't friends before, we were just co-workers.
It was an awful day job and you hate each other more
because you hate the job. But I knew he was a good musician
and then I just asked him later to help me record the
record, and that was about it. I didn't think we'd become
a proper band, never did. I did it as a hobby, just
as everyone has a hobby, to get away from my apartment
Crud: So what keeps the creative relationship
going now? Always trying to better each other? Thrive
on the tension?
"Well, no. Because he can't better me! That's a moot
point really. Frankly I don't think the tension works
so well. The tension only comes in because I'm the one
that leads the band and says what's going to happen.
So there's never been a battle for leadership in this
band. Nor will there ever be. I write the songs and
I direct everything. But in many ways if there's a certain
vague or abstract idea he'll bring it to fruition through
his playing or sense of music."
You get on better these days, now you're away from the
shitty job where you met?
"Somedays! What it comes down to a lot of the time is
that he and I are just very different people. We haven't
had a blow up or physical altercation or even a yelling
match in a little while, so we're doing ok. I think
we've learnt to be around each other a little more.
He's got married recently and changed a bit. We just
know how to push each others buttons, which we're tired
of doing. He has far more buttons… or maybe I do… oh,
I don't know. His are easier to push. Well no, that's
not true either. He's just very sensitive and I'm not.
There you have it."
Crud: But making three records with a guy you
don't much care for ain't bad. You two still going to
be making beautiful music together in your death beds?
"I don't know. This might be the last record to be honest
with you. This could be it, you have to wonder sometimes.
We'll probably be asking ourselves, if we haven't already,
if this is the best this band can do. And if it happens
and it ends it's really no big deal. I don't think we've
made a masterpiece but we've made three good records
for what they were at the time. They communicated what
they were supposed to. Very lo-fi records that in a
way have their charm and for some reason people like
it and that's great."
Crud: Have you found the success you wanted then,
if you'd be happy to say goodbye tomorrow?
"I already know we don't get the same attention as
The Strokes or The White Stripes say, or other American
bands. Because we're not wearing fucking red and white
polyester trousers every day. And that's fine because
I know that musically anything we wrote on this last
record is equally as good as anything America's put
out in the last year. I know that as a fact. It's a
good record and I'm very proud of it and it's kind of
sad that if I don't do something in a certain way it
won't get heard in this country. We're doing great in
the States, it's fine, people are diggin' it. But here
in Britain you have to play rock stars like Cowboys
Crud: But (last record) 'When Your Heartstrings
Break' certainly had some good press over here. And
that's ignoring the obscure Welsh interest too.
"Yeah, it did well. Remarkably well. But we've heard
the British press will love you the first time and second
time round they can't wait to rip your head off! But
yeah, we've done remarkably well. We're lucky that we
can show up in any city and have a bunch of people come
out and see us. We've been really lucky."
site - www.beulahmania.com
site - www.shiftydisco.com
Interview and report by James Berry