"High energy pop music for the ages." That's how Neil Finn describes the Beths. But how does lead Beth Liz Stokes describe them? We catch up to find out more about the band who are releasing a new live album and getting set for an upcoming New Zealand tour.
1 Describe your sound in one sentence.
Two guitars, drums, bass and everyone sings.
2 Considering the tyranny of distance was a major theme of your last album, how have Covid-19 restrictions affected your musical life?
It changed the plans pretty quickly. Last year we would have played at least a hundred shows around the world to support our album release. We were super lucky to be able to focus more deeply on touring New Zealand, and that's meant our local audience has grown more than we maybe thought it could. But without international touring things are pretty different for us now.
3 How does playing live in New Zealand compare with overseas touring?
Nothing is better than a hometown show, and we really do love it here. The main difference is just the size. As a band you get really tight playing in a different city every night for six weeks. That's something that's much more difficult to do here.
4 What one song should a new listener check out that best represents The Beths?
I suppose Future Me Hates Me, from our first album of the same name.
5 Is the future sound for rock/indie music?
I'd say the future for music is sound. There are always new kids and grown-ups picking up guitars and drum sticks, and learning how to record or create music at home using DAWs and YouTube tutorials.
6 What one change would you make to the New Zealand music scene if you could?
I'd love for shows to start a little earlier, and for public transport to run a little later. And I'd love to see more support and security for smaller music venues, and I'd love to see more all ages venues. Sorry, that's four things.
7 What one song by another artist do you wish you'd written and why?
So many, I definitely get song envy. I wish I could write Anchor Me by The Mutton Birds. This song manages to make me feel so much with such brevity and simplicity. And the transition from the bridge to the last chorus is just masterful. Shivers every time.
8 Your music brings joy. What makes you smile?
Dogs and my band's unhealthy love of Trade Me.
9 What next for The Beths? What's happening in the rest of 2021 and 2022 and where do you see yourself in five years?
Huge question. We're working on an album for the rest of the year. We have a lot planned for next year, knock on wood. In five years I'd love to be doing the same thing, making music and playing it wherever we can. Sorry if this is boring, there just isn't really anything else I want to do.
10 In a post-Covid world, you're curating a music festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?
A lot of implications if I can bring back the dead. Ella Fitzgerald, Rilo Kiley, Steely Dan, Missy Elliot. And Ben Folds Five. Also Sinatra. And Hans Pucket. Let's leave it there. Not awaken anyone else haha.
•The live album and film Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 is out September 17.