The Beths’ debut album Future Me Hates Me was one of our favorite indie albums of 2018, and we can barely contain our excitement for its follow-up. Due out July 10, Jump Rope Gazers is preceded by the single “Dying To Believe,” which showcases the New Zealand quartet’s incredible power-pop songwriting prowess, pairing a massive vocal hook with simple but impressive instrumental arrangements.
In anticipation of the new record, Elizabeth Stokes sat down to talk her formative CDs, a 14-minute disco banger, and more in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Electric Guitar Bass Drums Singing oh god no I’ve miscounted.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
This is a huge question. If we were really lucky, we’d be a band that people feel a personal affection for, and an association with being really special to them during certain periods of their lives. That would be nice.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Auckland, New Zealand. We’ve so rarely played at home the last couple years and when we do it’s indescribably special.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
Jonathan Pearce nudged me into songwriting again, which is the whole reason this project exists, and constantly inspires me to try my best with this band and not mess it up.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
I’ve don’t really have a good memory for food. Last night we had rice and stir-fried mushrooms and a fried egg and Lao Gan Ma. I’m pretty sure that’s the best thing I can remember eating. I wished it would never end but it did :(
What album do you know every word to?
All the albums that I had on CD as a teenager between 2004 and 2008. Bright Eyes Lifted, Rilo Kiley More Adventurous, The Postal Service Give Up, Fall Out Boy Take This To Your Grave … Lyrics were the main draw for me so I’d learn all of them before googling guitar tabs.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
The first time I saw Hans Pucket (NZ’s best band) at the Wine Cellar as part of a night where around 8 bands were playing alternating sets between Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar. It was so incredibly tight and fun and the songs were so immediate and the arrangements so imaginative. I went and saw them at a house party the next night and they covered “Loyal” by Dave Dobbyn and it was glorious. I feel incredibly lucky to count such talented people among my friends, and we got to take them on tour to the UK last year.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
Trying to figure out how to say this without name-dropping brands haha. I bring two pairs of shoes on tour, one… boot shoe that’s a bit clunky, and one pair of skate sneakers that I keep in my guitar case. I wear the boots all day because they are more comfortable, but when we play I do a lot of pedal changes while singing and it’s not unusual for me to miss the correct pedal. So the light, tight-fitting sneakers give me the much-needed foot dexterity to hit the correct pedal, and to move around a bit more.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
My flatmate @_richardparry_ makes quite amazing photography art that involves dismantling game consoles and cameras. It’s beautifully polished stuff, which is completely at odds with his ‘story’ content. I won’t give anything away.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
We like to start a particularly long drive with a 14 minute disco banger called “Am I Honest With Myself Really” by Chaz Jankel. Sometimes a couple times back to back. Ben (our bassist) introduced us to this song and it’s now a part of our touring tradition. It’s quite a journey of a song.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Chas Jankel “Am I Honest With Myself Really.”
What album makes for the perfect gift?
I mean, it would depend on the person right? I think it’d be hard to turn down ‘Brightly Painted One’ by Tiny Ruins, it’s a classic.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
On our first NZ tour, in Christchurch we stayed on the floor/couches of a factory warehouse that a friend worked out. That was weird and a bit cold, but freeee.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I don’t have any! Weirdly none of The Beths currently have a tattoo. I’d like one, I think the reason I don’t is that they’re quite expensive?
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Can’t turn off Fleetwood Mac when it comes on.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
For my 16th birthday my highschool bandmates organized a surprise birthday party for me where they had a mobile petting zoo that was just bunnies and one small pony. I was very confused and then just had rabbits dumped into my lap. I still don’t know if it was real.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to change much really. I think I’d tell myself not to get so caught up in university. I threw myself 100% into music school and lost touch with the local band scene I’d been a part of all through high school. I don’t regret getting fully immersed in studying music, but I wish I’d stayed connected. Reconnecting afterwards was nice though.
What’s the last show you went to?
Oh god. It was my friend Callum Passells’ show, who is a saxophone player. He did a triple trio gig, so three kits, three bassists, three saxophone players. It was a great cacophony. It was at the Audio Foundation, which is the home for Auckland’s free and experimental musicians. It’s a special place and I hope it makes it through this period ok, because there is nothing else like it here.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
10 Things I Hate About You.
What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?
I don’t think this is a good idea, I can’t think either of us would have a very nice time.
Jump Rope Gazers is out July 10. Pre-order it here.