5 Questions: Deadbeat Beat

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There’s a certain strain of pop music that’s impervious to trends.

I’m talking about a particular brand of classicist, hook-laden guitar pop that draws just as much from the 60s as the independent side of the 80s — think The Clean or The Bats from New Zealand. Or the self-titled debut from The House of Love. Or a little more recently — the debut LP from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Or records from Veronica Falls or Crystal Stilts.

Detroit indie pop trio Deadbeat Beat share a spiritual affinity with these bands, and their beautifully constructed pop songs have been weather-proofed to stand the test of time the best possible way — through classic melodies, gorgeous harmonies and sprightly guitar chords that sound just as fresh and vibrant as they do familiar.

The band, which consists of drummer Maria Nuccilli, singer/guitarist Alex Glendening and bassist Zak Frieling, can trace its origins to a high school friendship between Maria and Alex. The two bonded over their shared obsession over music — creating their own sounds was inevitable. After moving through a number of projects and working with various other musicians, Deadbeat Beat really came into its own with the addition of bassist Zak.

Deadbeat Beat released its debut LP, “When I Talk to You” in 2011 via the cassette label Gold Tapes. There’s been a smattering of other releases since then, but it’s only now that the band is ready to unveil its second proper full length, “How Far.”

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The record was recorded in the basement studio of Detroit-based musician and engineer Jeff Else, with significant input from singer-songwriter Fred Thomas of indie pop heroes Saturday Looks Good to Me. Thomas not only worked with the band on the recording, but was involved with the mastering.  Rather than rush through the recording and mixing, the band took its time to ensure the end result was something truly special.

And boy did the band ever hit the mark. Check out lead single “You Lift Me Up” to hear what makes Deadbeat Beat so compelling. This is as classic as classic indie pop gets…

Deadbeat Beat is on tour to promote its new album, and thankfully, a stop in Washington DC became a possibility when our friend Laurie Spector of Hothead suggested them for WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE at the Marx Cafe. I got in touch with Maria and Alex to learn more about this very talented group of musicians…

1) Deadbeat Beat’s debut album, “When I Talk to You,” came out in 2011. You’re just now releasing the band’s second record, “How Far.” Why did it take so long? And what have you been doing in the interim? 

Maria: The original band was put on hiatus in early 2013 when one of our members relocated for a job. We spent the next couple years with a few different folks filling in, but nothing stuck long enough for us to squeak out a full length. We did, however, release a tape EP in 2015 called “Only Time Will Tell.” We did a couple other tapes and singles in between now and then too. Between all of that? We were working, finishing up school, playing/touring in other bands and doing records with them too, namely Outrageous Cherry (me) and Tyvek (Alex).

2) Do you feel that being involved in multiple projects is a help or a hindrance in sparking your creative muse?

Maria: As a drummer, the variety is something I need. I learn new things from whoever I’m playing with.

Alex: Playing with other musicians is essential to growth. I’m the kind of person where things are going to happen when they happen, and I’ve learned to accept that instead of freaking out about it. I read on somewhere that Kevin Ayers was also the same way.

3) We can throw around subgenre signifiers like garage, surf or indie jangle, but at the end of the day, Deadbeat Beat play pop music. Do you have a concept in your head of the so-called perfect pop song?

Alex: “Sister Ray” is the perfect pop song. It’s catchy, it washes over you, it sounds cool as hell. It’s also fucked up. There are many other perfect pop songs too.

4) What is Deadbeat Beat geeky about – other than music? Or is it just music?

Alex: A lot of what we are geeky about is music. We got really into making memes about the band Television for a minute, you can still see them on our Instagram. One time Maria and I were having a very serious conversation while driving and she turned to me mid-thought and asked, “Okay wait but is ‘Younger than Yesterday’ your favorite Byrds album, I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”

5) Life on the road – can you give us a peak into what it’s like for Deadbeat Beat? Have you stumbled upon any accidental life lessons along the way?

Alex: Every time I go on tour, no matter how long in duration, I always bring a shirt that I never wear once. It is so annoying.

Maria: Alex makes the most friends, Zak goes to the most museums, I’m just over here trying to stick to my skincare routine. We’re all trying to drink as much water as possible. The best thing we did this time was go to Coinstar with an entire totebag full of change Alex found during his move a few months ago – gotta pay those tolls baby!

Listen to and purchase Deadbeat Beat’s music on Bandcamp, “Like” them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter, and check out the band’s own website.

And be sure to check out Deadbeat Beat’s live show Friday, Aug. 2 at WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE at the Marx Cafe (3203 Mt. Pleasant St NW, Washington DC 20010).  Hothead is also performing a live set. Guest DJ Ahmad Z will be spinning records, along with Laurie from Hothead and the WFTBO DJs!

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