“The arts have definitely been keeping us all going during this time, I hope it will be a good thing for artists in the end” – Bethlehem Casuals stop by to discuss the shape of the music industry moving forward
Bethlehem Casuals, the seven-piece psychedelic jazz-pop outfit (yes, you read that right) hailing from Manchester, might just be the most exciting artist that you haven’t heard of… yet. Fresh off the release of their second LP, The Tragedy of Street Dog, the band have been grabbing the attention of many with their unique and gripping sound. Now, amidst uncertain times, we chatted with Joe Woodhouse, Awen Blandford, Will Graham and Pip Sayers from the band to ask a few questions to discuss how these times are affecting musicians and find out a little more about how the landscape of the music industry will look moving forward.
What have you been listening to recently to ease the boredom of being cooped up?
Will: I’ve been going to the park and listening to Radiohead for the first time ever. I always avoided them as a kid – I thought they were lame because I was into metal. I’ve found The King of Limbs is a good album to juggle to. My most listened to album in this time has been Sound & colour by Alabama Shakes, it’s sick.
Joe: I have been smashing through quite a lot of electronic stuff while I’ve been running, 808 State, Bicep, Groove Armada, Chemical Brothers, Todd Terje… anything to get the juices flowing and the legs a’ running, know what I’m sayin.
Pip: According to Obscurify (pretty cool website, that shows your top played stuff on Spotify) Minnie Ripperton is up there on my most played: 80s indie, crunchy-but soul.
Awen: I’ve been listening to Fourtet’s earlier album, Rounds, enjoying filling the house with a calming soundscape. Also, a lot of folk as per, enjoying the Roches – 70s sister trio of wholesome harmonies. My favourite discovery so far is Warsaw Village Band- check it out.
How have you found the extended period in isolation has impacted your creativity? Have you found it to be a blessing or a curse?
A: It’s forced me to learn how to record from home, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. So I guess it’s been a blessing, as I’ve collaborated on quite a few home recordings with different artists and ‘orchestras’.
J: Probably a blessing, I’ve played the guitar a lot more than I was doing before. I’ve also just been enjoying playing a lot more, without the pressure of trying to create stuff, just playing along with stuff I like.
P: It’s been a blessing for me, I’ve been accompanying some choirs so I’ve got much better at the piano because I’ve had to, and I’ve had the time to get better. Recording a load of stuff for the band too, it makes you think about what you’re doing for once.
W: A blessing for sure. With all the time, I’ve managed to record a whole load of material for my next few albums. As a band we’ve recorded a load of ideas for new tunes and jams, we probably wouldn’t have made as much material if we were just rehearsing normally.
Have you taken to any social media platforms to deliver live performances during this time? If so, how did you find the reception?
No, 7 of us trying to live stream from 7 different locations was too much for our brains to handle. For now, we have been enjoying sending music ideas to each other and all adding our own flavours to the melting pot.
Do you think this time will see a rise in ‘DIY’ musicians stepping into the spotlight? Do you think this is a good thing for the industry?
J: I guess there’s quite a lot of open mic musicians and people putting themselves out there playing online. I think people are doing more of it, whether they just pick up a guitar and play a bit more often or share it online.
A: Music of the people, folk music is having a comeback.
P: We are all still DIY musicians though.
W: I think everyone was already DIY musicians, I think the amount of people going into the music industry is the same, and they’re all DIY. But I guess there’s been a lot of pop musicians, who have started doing stuff from home and it’s been a bit sh*t… There’s been a couple of good ones, but watching Gary Barlow sit with headphones on and sway into his computer makes my butt hole close up.
How do you think this period will shape the music landscape for the years to come?
J: Everyone’s gonna be releasing a load of music and touring at once, it’s gonna be fat. However, how’s it going to work next year with a backlog of stuff at festivals? I’m not sure. Will there be space for smaller artists to get on the scene for next year?
A: I hope everyone will want to get out and play and watch live music more than ever, and the country will appreciate it a bit more. I think arts have definitely been keeping us all going during this time, I hope it will be a good thing for artists in the end.
W: It could go both ways there will be people itching for gigs and a load of bands who are super under-rehearsed.
P: Unfortunately I think it’s going to fudge over a load of venues, especially small ones. I’m all about moving everything to the top of multi-storey car parks.
W: Or we could move everything underground, turn houses with basements into small venues.
J: Festival in a multistory. 3 different stages on 3 different levels. Sick.
W: I think there’ll be a lot more popular songs that have generic lyrics about…
J: ‘I’m all alone, sat at home’
P: ‘On my eighth day of eating porridge, haven’t left the house for 200 days’
W: We were on the brink of going back to the 90s with songs like ‘We like to party’ , and ‘Going to Ibiza’ but now after isolation we’re just going to revert back to sad boy pop songs, or quiet songs like those from Billie Eilish’s album talking about what we do when we go to sleep.
What is the first thing you are going to do when this is all over?
A: I’ve been dreaming about diving into the sea, I want to feel a bit of adrenaline, a warm day and a cold and refreshing swim, can’t wait.
W: I want to run the North Coast of Wales.
P: the end of my lockdown is going to be exactly like the end scene of ‘Independence Day’, lots of cheering with Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith and a burning spaceship.
J: Hopefully just get back to Manchester and see everyone. I’m just looking forward to having people round, cooking a big tea and getting wine drunk. I make a pretty good lamb risotto and grilled aubergine with goat’s cheese and caramelised onions for the veggies.
Have you got a message for any of your fans that might be reading this? Any means by which they can support yourselves/the band at this time?
J: Keep it Casual.
P: 5G isn’t as good as 6G
W: Make sure you keep washing and shaving. For Manchester folk: Shindigger delivers beer in under 3 hours and Fletcher Moss is underrated.
… also Bethlehem Casuals merch is out now.