When these particular Kiwis fly, they go far and wide! In the six fresh years of The Beths taking center-stage, they’ve racked up a loyal flock of fans, signed with an international label, toured locally and abroad, and created a storming impression within the burgeoning indie rock scene.
We spoke to the talented drummer of The Beths, Tristan Deck, about all things music in his world, including two new Melodics lessons for their hits, Jump Rope Gazer and Great No One.
Tristan’s eclectic music taste and his fused style of pop-punk and jazz drumming has added to The Beth’s unique alternative and indie sound. We got the inside scoop of what it means to be flying high during turbulent times. Here’s how The Beths remain focused, adaptable, and keep their engines revving despite the odds.
How did you start playing drums with The Beths? What were you doing musically before joining the band?
I knew Liz and Ben through studying Jazz at Auckland University. I knew they’d started a band and the first time I heard The Beths play I fell in love with the music. I knew I wanted to be a part of it but was content to enjoy the band as a die hard fan. I was teaching drums and playing a lot of jazz and improvised music around Auckland. Jazz music remains a great love of mine, I love the drum language and the collaboration and spontaneity. I met Jon properly on tour with Aldous Harding and some touring work with The Beths needed to be filled. A dream come true! During that period in 2019 I became a full time member of the band.
What does it mean to you and the band to see songs by The Beths picked up and taught through a platform like Melodics?
I’m chuffed! The music I was listening to when I started learning drums was half what my parents played around the house and half whatever was on the radio. Back then NZ artists were featured at a higher proportion to overseas music on popular radio stations so I started practicing while listening to lots of music from Aotearoa without even realising it. I’m chuffed because I have a very high opinion of the quality of music being produced here and am stoked to be contributing to a scene I love!
Any pro tips for cracking the drum parts on Great No One and Jump Rope Gazers?
Great No One is so much fun to play. It’s fast and has lots of big anticipated offbeat hits. Listening to lots of pop punk will get your ears in the right place for the drumming language used in the drum part. Think of the drumming on the immortal album American Idiot by Green Day, Love & Disrespect by Elemeno P, or Attack on Memory by Cloud Nothings.
Jump Rope Gazers I try to play somewhere between these two extremes: Back in Black by AC/DC and Alvvays’s song Marry Me Archie. I try to take the intense respect Phil Rudd has for good old rock beat number one and combine that with something a little more dreamy and sensitive.
What impact has Covid had on the band’s plans over the last couple of years?
Massive! We’ve had to shift from a large amount of touring and playing to staying in NZ or at home in our bubbles. We’ve done internet live streams for single and album releases and done lots of playing together, learning and workshopping different songs. I miss touring but spending a good bit of time back in NZ is wonderful. Whenever I’m on tour I miss going to watch gigs, which inspires me and makes me want to play more! There are positives and negatives for both situations.
You recently announced a 2022 North America tour, what impact will Covid have on how the shows happen? Are there certain precautions you have to put in place at the shows?
The touring landscape has changed permanently since early 2020. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to travel and play and meet people. In balancing our desire to return to a touring world the overwhelming priority is keeping people safe and healthy. The wellness of gig goers is something we take very seriously and will not put at risk by playing shows before it is prudent to do so!
Do you have any rituals or habits that help keep you on top drumming form?
I try to pick up my sticks every day. I’m constantly drumming in my head and tapping ideas out on tables. I like building drum solos in my mind too – thinking about the things that I can play and arranging it in ways that sound interesting to me (and hopefully others!). It’s a great way to practise composition as well as being a memory exercise.
Any final tips for beginners or anyone thinking about playing drums?
Set realistic practice goals and focus on being regular with practice more so than the volume of practice. Make friends with as many other musicians as you can, it’s never too early in your drumming career to start playing music with others!
(PROTIP: jam out your own take using Playground Mode!)