Beverly’s Brilliant Careers

By
Photography Frank Sun

Published June 30, 2014

ABOVE: BEVERLY, PHOTOGRAPHED IN NEW YORK, JUNE 2014. PHOTOS BY FRANK SUN

Around this time last year, the recording project that would eventually become Beverly was a way for singer-guitarist Drew Citron and Williamsburg mainstay Frankie Rose to keep busy between tours. (A chance encounter in 2012 at producer Le Chev’s Thermometer Factory Studios, where Rose was mixing her album Interstellar, ultimately led to Rose inviting Citron to join her road band.) But as the two began laying Citron’s songs to tape, it soon became apparent that Beverly was more than a side project.

The result is Careers (Kanine), a 10-song batch of magic-hour-imbued rockers that recalls Amps-era Kim Deal and the shining moments of ’80s indie-pop band the Shop Assistants. Citron’s dreamy vocals, the centerpiece of Beverly’s sound, are carried along by her reverb-driven guitar and Rose’s captivating harmonies and sturdy, to-the-point drumming.

And though Rose is no longer in the group, Citron, along with two of Williamsburg’s finest players, multi-instrumentalist Scott Rosenthal, and drummer Jamie Ingalls—both of whom have also toured with Rose—is looking toward bigger things on the horizon (including the band’s second show in as many weeks at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right, Wednesday night).

Several nights before we caught up with the magnetic front woman at a bar near Beverly’s practice space in Brooklyn, Citron and Rosenthal had gone to the tony Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side to watch Woody Allen play clarinet.

DAVID JACK DANIELS: So you went to see Woody Allen.

DREW CITRON: Right. Scott and I went to see him play with his New Orleans jazz band at the Carlyle. I got there early and waited in line all day, and had people save our seats so we could get oysters… It was an ordeal. And then Woody Allen goes on stage, and he’s, like, this 78-year-old man who was not really excited to be there, and was not really [whispering] an adequate jazz musician; didn’t have any feel, any rhythm, didn’t have any tone … I kind of thought it was going to be like Michael’s in the ’70s.

DANIELS: Very glamorous?

CITRON: Or like the opening credits to Manhattan [1979].

DANIELS: When you walked in, did everything go black and white?

CITRON: [laughs] I mean, there was an element of that… kind of, Stardust Memories [1980], you know?

DANIELS: It’s like you know if you get to a certain point with fame, you’ll have to live it out for the rest of your days.

CITRON: I like that he’s just, “I play clarinet. Sometimes. That’s a thing I do.” And that’s a nice thing to carry you into your twilight years. But it was very voyeuristic, and the night had a sinister feel, especially given the fact that he’s a total creep, but we don’t have to get into that.

DANIELS: On the topic of cinematic moments, looking at the cover of Careers, I’m reminded of a kind of warm isolation I feel when being on the road out West, and seeing all those big roadside motels that seem lost in time. Does that resonate with you?

CITRON: We definitely wanted to capture a road aesthetic for the album art. A lot of the inspiration for the imagery draws on Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas [1984]—that, combined with Clerks [1994] and shitty deli parking lots. [Daniels laughs] My friend Trenton, who painted the album cover, is amazing, by the way.

DANIELS: Paris, Texas is such a classic.

CITRON: It’s one of my favorites. I like how the landscapes in the movie are just as emotional as Harry Dean Stanton’s face …

DANIELS: So I guess at some point we should get down to work and talk about music. What about influences?

CITRON: Well, I’m a huge George Harrison fan. I like big, round, classic rock sounds—Dwight Twilley. I like music that makes you want to drive; songs with beautiful arrangements; [music recorded in] huge live-rooms; [listening back while] smoking in the control room. People liken Bev to ’90s bands, and that’s a huge compliment. We really love the Amps, the Breeders, the Pixies. I love Pavement. I’m also trying to get a Smashing Pumpkins guitar thing happening, which will always elude me—basically, big pop music that hits hard and leans toward punk, with true emotional intent.

DANIELS: I’m glad you brought up Dwight Twilley. I’ve been obsessed with his song “Looking for the Magic” for a while; it’s one that I keep coming back to.

CITRON: It’s my favorite of his. Apparently he doesn’t play it anymore, though, because he’s too heartbroken that [his songwriting partner] Phil Seymour died. I feel like that’s evidence that he’s the real thing.

DANIELS: Did you make it to his show at the Bell House a month or so ago?

CITRON: I bought tickets but didn’t end up going. I was psyched when I heard about it, but, I don’t know, maybe it’s…

DANIELS: Did you feel like you might be disappointed? It sounds terrible, I know, but…

CITRON: Yeah, it’s the same reason I refuse to see Bob Dylan in concert today. It’s like, why would you want to see Dylan past 1975? There’s no reason, you know? You can revisit the records, and play them in your house. I think it would’ve killed the magic for me.

DANIELS: You want to preserve that original feel. So, going back to Careers, could you tell us a bit about the recording process? Was there a particular formula you used for guitars and vocals? 

CITRON: Um, formula?! [both laugh]

DANIELS: As you can tell, I came prepared.

CITRON: Well, It’s really an experiment, but we did have one fool-proof, zany sound that sort of happens throughout the record, which is an acoustic-electric through a tube amp, and EQ-ed heavy on the low-mids, and it came out huge, shockingly so. It’s as close to [Billy] Corgan as I’ve come. Close to Corgan, our new side project!

DANIELS: Is he a big influence, Corgan?

CITRON: [laughs] Not really, but I do love the way everything he records sounds. For the vocals, we did them in a way that would make them the highlight of the song, bring out harmonies, and also satisfy Frankie’s aesthetic, honestly, because she layers a lot of vox on her records and has a lot of great ideas as far as how to get them sounding the best.

DANIELS: But Frankie’s not doing Beverly with you now?

CITRON: No. Frankie’s focusing on her solo project, and we’re moving in different directions. I’m taking the Beverly live show in a three- to four-piece direction now, which includes bass and some synth parts that you’ll hear on the record.

DANIELS: Beverly is a shift away from some of the other bands you’ve played in, like Avan Lava and Pains of Being Pure at Heart, that rely pretty heavily on an overall computerized sheen and backing tracks.

CITRON: Well, in a live setting, backing tracks can take you to a breadth of sound and volume that people who know your record can understand because [the show] sounds more like the record, and there’s something to that. But I’m interested in live sound. I think you can achieve a more nuanced experience with the instruments and your voice that you can’t get with backing tracks. Completely live has the capacity to be more subtle; it’s special, and if you practice your instruments, you can let go and let if fly, and it’s not to a click track—you’re vibing with the people next to you, and that’s what live music is supposed to be. I’ve played in bands with backing tracks for the past five years, and I’m so excited that Beverly is not that.

DANIELS: How do you see the rest of the summer shaping up for Beverly?

CITRON: We have the record release party at Baby’s All Right, and there are a few tour offers floating around. We’re definitely trying to go to the U.K. and Europe, and we’re hoping to get a cool support tour in the fall.

DANIELS: Do you hang out at Baby’s quite a bit, go to a lot of shows?

CITRON: There was a time when I was, like, living there. And my roommate would be like, “What are you doing later?” And I couldn’t even say it. I was too embarrassed. And he was like, “You’re going to Baby’s?”

DANIELS: Did you see Macaulay Culkin’s Velvet Underground parody band there a while back [the Pizza Underground]?

CITRON: I didn’t make it, but I just read an article that said they got beer thrown at them and booed off the stage while playing a show in the U.K.

DANIELS: [laughs] Speaking of VU, or I guess in this case, PU, past-his-prime Lou Reed is another one you wouldn’t wanted to have seen live.

CITRON: [laughs] But there’s always that [2000] performance of “Perfect Day” featuring Pavarotti.

BEVERLY’S CAREERS IS OUT TOMORROW, JULY 1. THE BAND WILL PLAY BABY’S ALL RIGHT IN BROOKLYN ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 2. FOR MORE ON BEVERLY, PLEASE VISIT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.