While Liz Vassar was writing up a review of The Beards’ latest, “Muskito,” I was jamming it, too. I was also reading the materials they had sent with it and thinking, “it’s time to talk with these cats…” So, I dusted off the ol’ keyboard and sent a message all the way to Italy in a matter of a second or so and we got started…
I have to tell you I’ve been a fan of The Beards since they sent me a copy of “Widman’s Mansion,” last year. Every time I spin one of their tunes, I like them more! So, here you have it, straight from Emanuele and Max, the story behind “Muskito”… Oh, yeah, they did a decent job in the translation, so I left it like it is without edits because it’s more fun that way…
It’s been a little while since I last heard from you. You were planning a visit to the States. How did that turn out for you?
Well, The Beards had been adopted as artists by USA, we’re the crazy, strange Italian cousins of the great Americana family. We won’t ever be able to find the right words to express our gratitude and admiration to Aaron ‘Professor Louie’ Hurwitz and Miss Marie, Kris, Mark, Benji and all the guys from the Last Waltz Ensemble, The Sundogs, T.J. Cole, Alfred Catabiani and many others. In the last ten years they have supported The Beards, tolerated and enjoyed our weirdness, shared many adventures and offered us their friendship! We are far but we keep them always in our heart, we learned a lot from them. Notwithstanding we risked to be arrested in Pennsylvania during our USA tour in 2006, it’s quite normal for us to think to come back to USA!!
Any truly memorable experiences?
What was your favorite place that you visited? Are you still here? USA. Made an exception for our experience with cops in Pennsylvania, we can’t forget the moment we have met Levon Helm of The Band in The Barn, his Recording Studio in the Woodstock hills. We listened to an Elvis Costello record they were mixing and, of course, we spoke about recording ……. We spent some time together and he really touched our souls. When we were leaving we noted a limousine precariously parked on the top of a dunghill, it was the evidence that Levon didn’t pay very much attention to that kind of stuff! This funny scenery didn’t balance the commotion we felt leaving the home of midnight ramble. The favourite place we visited is probably Panama city beach, we spent the Thanksgiving day there, we had the turkey, we swam in the ocean and, in that case, we risked a congestion, but it was great! We will back soon!!!
Tell me a little about the inspiration for the songs on “Muskito”.
It’s a Tasmania’s frontier concept album: an apocalyptic western, set at a time when the island of Tasmania was known as Van Diemen’s Land, Britain’s most far-flung penal colony . Songs tell the story of three displaced characters whose paths become strangely entwined in a drama set against the Tasmanian wilderness. Musically Muskito is based on the idea of creating a “soundtrack” so it offered us the opportunity to experiment a lot , we aimed to create evocative music, we wanted to describe the gloom, the craziness, the tragedy of the story even without lyrics but, at the same time, we tried to keep each single little soundtrack inside the boundaries of a song. Honestly, we never try to copy something, it is our weird vision of sound that rules on our decisions, in the case of Muskito our approach matched quite good with the concept and, in some way, with classic Spaghetti Westerns style .
If you had to argue about what kind of ice cream to have, who would win and what flavor would it be? Red wine flavor!! (It’s not a joke!)
Hey, tell me about the film end of this. Is there actually going to be a movie?! I want to see it!
At the moment Julien is planning to create, through a period of auditions, workshops and rehearsals, a series of live presentations of Muskito. This will be a collaboration between us, Australian and indigenous Australian musicians, actors and theatre workers. He plans to premiere a live-on-stage version of Muskito at the Theatre Royal in Hobart Tasmania then tour this production to other venues in Australia, Italy and the world… So maybe you will see Muskito, the musical, on Broadway!! How did you and Julien get together? We have met Julien in 2009 in Britain, in the north of the France, right on the other side of the Ocean. We were on the stage of the Binic Folk and Blues Festival. Julien often recalls the very first time he saw us walking through the fog the morning we arrived: “You looked like characters of a Spaghetti Western”! So this is reason why Julien approached us…. Not the music!!!! Muskito was recorded in the same place and, with the same team we recorded the Widmann Mansion lp in Summer 2010, Professor Louie, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Marie Spinosa and Julien Poulson who is the writer of the Muskito screenplay. A mobile recording studio was set inside the auditurium of Villa Widmann, a stunning 17th century Venetian villa along the Brenta Riviera and our sound engineer Francesco Fabiano pushed the botton: “recording”. The gorgeous garden of the Villa was, in some way, alarming, maybe because of the presence of many statues looking like ghosts under the shadows of giant trees, the combination of this environment, Julien tales about the old, outlaw, bloody Tazmania and “the Italians” generate a quite creative cocktail.
What’s on the schedule next for The Beards?
El Brigante, our first Record in Italian is on the way. It’ll be released by Metal Postcard Records . Would you like to review it my friend? A big hug from The Beards!!