Discovery: The Beverleys

Published March 3, 2014

ABOVE: THE BEVERLEYS

For those looking to wash down their punk/grunge/shred with a stylistic flavor reminiscent of ’60s girl groups—which should be everyone, naturally—look to the Toronto-based trio The Beverleys, and find something even better. The band, comprised of Joanna Lund (guitar, vocals) and sisters Susan (guitar, vocals) and Steph Burke (drums), evinces a playful personality that embodies both strong sisterly affection and a traditional punk audacity without distinction. Together, the three band members wrap each others’ sentences with interruptions and giggles just as frequently as they might answer a question about lyrical inspiration with the deadpan, “Pain.” But don’t mistake the Beverleys as coquettish—their brand of humor is their cozy intimacy oxidizing in front of an audience, and that audience is fast growing.

Their music belongs to Toronto’s rich tradition of offbeat sonic excellence, a link of a magnitude the band both understands and embraces comfortably. Three years ago they began a steady but low-key presence in friends’ basements and art galleries alike, only recently venturing into New York for the CMJ scene and slots at Brooklyn locales like Death by Audio and garnering a wider following beyond the familial circle of friends and fellow Toronto bands—a fact they consider more surprising than satisfying, as well as an incidental opportunity to release a self-titled EP this past February 11 and finally put together an album in the near future. But in their music, The Beverleys produce songs of a martial vigor, with disheveled lo-fi wails flicking their wisdom above furiously and fluently shredding guitar chords that must require Olympic endurance. The track “Dreams” exemplifies this duality: the vehemently metronomic lyrics “I’m not right / In this light” punch a grave vulnerability into a song titled with an inside joke—the band’s original, forgivably bad name.

We spoke to the Beverleys about matching jumpsuits, Instagram identities, and how depression pays for itself.

BAND MEMBERS: Joanna Lund (guitar), Susan Burke (guitar, vocals), Steph Burke (drums)

HOMETOWN: St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

CURRENT RESIDENCE: Toronto, Canada

THE SUBURBS: Susan Burke: We all kind of knew each other from mutual friends and going downtown. But there wasn’t really a grunge scene in St. Catharines when we were growing up.

Joanna Lund: I’m not that much older than Steph and Susan, and I was into a lot of Britpop and shoe gaze. I never really got into grunge, but Susan really did.

Steph Burke: Everyone else in St. Catharines was into your main indie bands, and whatever was on the radio. Radio shit.

LIFE-CHANGING DISCOVERIES: Susan Burke: I’m sure we were listening to what our parents were listening to and we played instruments growing up, so when we had a bit more of a say in our own tastes—for me it was always heavier stuff, like Nirvana and The Nerves.

Joanna Lund: Yeah, it was always Britpop and shoegaze. I didn’t really get into prog stuff until I was much older, when I discovered the Constantines and my life was never the same.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Susan Burke: Our first shows were really tiny, like in an art gallery or in a friend’s basement. We rented a little space and started playing a few nights a week, just plugging and getting loud, and being a bit ridiculous. It kind of took off from there.

BAND LOVE: Steph Burke: Susan and I are sisters, so it would be strange if we didn’t get along. [laughs]

Susan Burke: It feels like a strong, solid bond. We help each other and have each other’s back, and we get closer to one another, and if someone needs help we’re there.

Joanna Lund: Especially before shows—it makes us play better. I think it would be different if we didn’t like each other, but we love each other.

NOMENCLATURE: Joanna Lund: We had a really shitty, awful band name before. It didn’t fit with our sound at all. It was so bad, I don’t even know if we’re going to mention it. There are maybe 10 people who know. [laughs]

Susan Burke: We were called Dreams.

Steph Burke: But there are also a lot of other bands with that name.

Joanna Lund: We gave ourselves that name before we even started playing music. We didn’t even know what music we were going to play.

Steph Burke: We got a jumpsuit at a vintage store, and our plan was to each get one. [laughs] One of them said Dreams…

Joanna Lund: One of them said Ideas, and so on. We thought that was going to be our thing.

HEY, STRANGERS: Susan Burke: Our first interview was actually last year, when we did a couple of interviews for North by Northeast [music and arts festival in Toronto].

Joanna Lund: The more people we play to the better, whether or not they like us. I’m not worried about expanding the fan base.

Steph Burke: Obviously you want people to like you, but it seems only recently that people we don’t know have started “liking” us, or whatever it’s called. It’s interesting seeing people you don’t know show up.

Joanna Lund: Usually it’s a big circle of friends and other bands and we all support each other. It’s still kind of like a family, in a way.

OTHER TORONTO BANDS TO WATCH:  Steph Burke: We’re all friends—Greys, The Dirty Nil, Pink Wine, Beliefs. Oh my god, there’s so many.

Susan Burke: The Toronto music community is getting bigger, and just better.

A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR BEVERLEYS: Joanna Lund: We all take care of social media, but…

Steph Burke: If we put a picture on Instagram, we’ll have people try to guess who posted it based on the comments. [laughs]

Joanna Lund: You can usually tell which one of us posted something. Only if you know us.

HOW TO CURE WRITER’S BLOCK: Joanna Lund: Pain.

Steph Burke: I don’t think there’s a theme in our lyrics, but—

Joanna Lund: It’s much easier to write lyrics when you’re miserable, and it’s cathartic. Depression is just kind of easy to write about. I feel like there’s constantly this energy of anxiety or—

Susan Burke: Worry, or panic.

TO HEAR THE BEVERLEYS’ SELF-TITLED EP, PLEASE VISIT THEIR BANDCAMP.