Interview with Tambourinen’s Grant Beyschau

Grant Beyschau of The Myrrors released a total kosmische monster of a solo album on cassette back in May under the name Tambourinen. Earlier this month, the great people at Centripetal Force and Cardinal Fuzz Records did the lord’s work by reissuing it onto vinyl.

Wooden Flower is a riff-fueled interstellar trip of howling gutsy guitars and in-the-red drumming that sounds like a mad Träd Gräs och Stenar and Amon Düül II super jam. It would not be a hyperbole to say that this record might be the most cosmic hard rock LP of the year.

EDIT: You can still grab vinyl copies from Tambourinen’s Bandcamp page (click here for that), and you can also purchase digital copies from Centripetal Force.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Beyschau over a Zoom call to discuss the record and how it came together:

Record Crates United: How did this solo project/record come about? What was the inspiration for it?

Grant Beyschau: It originally started actually…do you know the band Weeed? 

RCU: Oh yeah, absolutely. 

GB: So we had emailed with them about booking shows and it didn’t work out or whatever with Myrrors, and they hit me up about booking a couple of shows here and in Phoenix. I told them I had a new band that could open for them, because Nik, the other main guy from The Myrrors, had moved to Europe and I actually didn’t have a new band. I had been wanting to start a new one, so I figured that would be a good excuse to actually do it. So I had a few months to put it together. 

I got a few local musicians, like one of the other members of The Myrrors and another guy who had played in The Myrrors and a few other friends. We played a show here and another one in a little town called Bisbee, which is a cool old copper mining town in the mountains outside of Tucson. It was super fun. 

We just did those shows and the record itself was more…like I just played all of the instruments on the record, and it was just all me. I guess the release was more of a way to put out other recordings that I’ve been doing on my own for years. Just messing around and recording stuff. I had wanted to do it for a while, and finally, I was like, “yay, now I need to find a band name and stuff,” so I figured I’d go for it. 

RCU: When was this all recorded, exactly?

GB: I had recorded it pretty much all end of 2019 into the beginning of 2020, through the winter, basically. 

RCU: Ok, so basically all prior to COVID.

GB: Yeah, exactly.

RCU: How do you differentiate the music from this release and your work for The Myrrors? Like, why put this together as a solo release vs. an album with them?

GB: I think the process is the same in that…for the recording unit for The Myrrors, it’s just Nik and I. He plays guitar and sings and I guess we each play half the instruments. He and I get together and basically just do a recording session that is both of us, like multi-tracking and a bunch of overdubs. We’re always together for that portion of it. 

I took the same approach for this, I just do the multi-tracking thing, and all that. It’s all kind of improvised, I think? We maybe come up with a loose idea and just jam it out two instruments at a time.  

RCU: That rolls right into my next question, actually. There’s a wildness and an unpredictability to most of these songs. Were they largely born out or improvisation? 

GB: Yeah totally improvised. Most of them started out with some kind of part or an idea. I think the title track was just…I tuned all of the strings of the guitar to the same thing, and just played the rhythmic part through like a bunch of delay and a phaser, and with the stereo spread out. You can kinda hear it in the background of the track, but there’s a bunch of other shit going on, too. That was kind of the beginning of it, then I would lay down a bass track and use that one for a while, then it was like “oh, that one doesn’t fit with everything else that I’ve since layered on there, so I’ve got to redo that one,” and just go through the process that way. 

RCU: Comparisons to Träd Gräs och Stenar, Amon Düül II, Agitation Free and other Kosmische bands abound when you look at the reviews for the album. Did artists like these actually play a role in the forging of this record’s sound? And if not, what did heavily inspire the sound and vibe of this album?

GB: I think those are definitely true. Yeah the Amon Duul, like the improvisations on Yeti…that’s just been in my head for years. That’s one of my favorite things. Obviously yeah, Träd Gräs och Stenar, I’ve been listening to them all of the time. 

I think there’s a lot of modern bands that influenced the record, too. I think they pull a lot of the same influences too, from like Krautrock bands and stuff like that. Eternal Tapestry is a big one. I’ve been a big fan of theirs for years, and Planets Around the Sun, Herbcraft and some bands like that I am really into. 

RCU: What was the gear that you used to craft the sound on this record? Instruments, effect pedals, etc?

GB: It’s just mainly guitar, bass and drums, and on the last track there’s violin and harmonium and soprano saxophone. Oh, and there’s sax and flute on some of the other tracks, too. I got a Space Echo…I didn’t use anything too crazy on this. I discovered on the Space Echo, you could split the dry signal, so like, just the guitar, straight through and just the delays. Then, if you send the delays through a phaser, and have then have that panned stereo…that was like the basis of the title track. I just messed with that for hours and hours. 

Mainly, MXR Phase 90, that’s on there a lot. Usually if it’s a fuzz guitar. I want to get more fuzzes. I just have a Fuzz Factory, which is a really crazy fuzz that is hard to control at times, it makes these crazy squealing noises sometimes. I haven’t totally figure it out yet [laughs] but I managed to get some sounds out of it.  

RCU: As we were saying before, you play every instrument on this record. Do you prefer having that much control on a recording, or do you find it more difficult to not be able to collaborate with another artist? 

GB: I think that is the eternal struggle. It’s like, no one’s going to do exactly what I want them to do, you know what I mean? Then it’s like, I don’t want to do everything. It takes so long and it’s also like…I don’t know, in an ideal world, you could get somebody like Nik. Nik is kinda a crazy example of that. Our music taste is insanely lined up. I’ve never met anybody else that likes the same music in the same way. So he’ll do something that I like, but wouldn’t have thought of. Which would be the ideal thing. I think I’m getting more open to that as time goes on and open to letting the project organically happen and see what other people could contribute.

RCU: If you could collaborate with any living musician right now on a song or a full record right now, who would it be?

GB: Oh man, I don’t know. It’s tough. I think honestly, it would be hard not to say Träd Gräs och Stenar. I saw them a few years ago in LA and they played three nights at Zebulon. 

RCU: Wow, lucky!

GB: Dude, it was insanely cool. We hung out with them and stuff. They were really, really cool people. 

RCU: Wow, really? That’s so good to hear.

GB: Yeah, the drummer is the drummer for Hills and we had met two of the guys from Hills when we were in Sweden a couple of years ago, and was like a common connection, so. Cool folks. So it could potentially happen one day. One can dream! [laughs]

RCU: I would love to hear that! That would be…just fucking great. 

GB: Yeah, man. 

RCU: Similarly to TGOS, your music always feels attached to natural environments, especially on this record. How do you define the relationship between your music and the natural world?  

GB: I think around this time…I don’t know, have you ever been to Arizona? 

RCU: I haven’t, but my wife has gone a few times in her youth, so I’ve heard a great deal about what it’s like down there. 

GB: Yeah, it’s kind of the opposite in most places in that the summer is super brutal, and you basically can’t go outside. You just go from one air conditioned space to another. So by the wintertime, you’re so stoked for the winter so you can finally go outside. I think that probably contributed to it in that I was able to hike. I think I was hiking probably every day. There’s a lot of trails around here and relatively mountainous down here, so you can drive for like 10-15 minutes and go be up in the hills and walk around. I think that kind of thing refills maybe the creative cup or whatever, you know what I mean? 

You get kinda beat down going to work or driving around and dealing with the city and living in society and shit, so I think that’s like…I don’t know if that’s a direct influence as like listening to birds or something, but I think it fuels the [music]. 

RCU: I hear that. I firmly believe that one’s environment has some sort of impact upon their creativity. Like for instance, when I hear the songs on this record, I could easily picture these huge rock formations looming over a sandy horizon, and then I remember that you’re in Arizona, so that makes total sense to me.

GB: Oh yeah.  

RCU: Once Covid is past us, would you be interested in performing this material live, with or without The Myrrors?

GB: I would definitely be down to perform it. I actually hadn’t even thought about playing it with The Myrrors. That just made me think about if we could play some of this, then maybe we could play some of Nik’s side project, too. I don’t know, it could be fun. I’ll have to talk to him about it, but who knows when that could happen. Hopefully soon.

RCU: Oh yeah, that would be great. So what’s next for you that you can tell us about? 

GB: We’ve got a record coming out on Cardinal Fuzz soon, I think we’re just waiting for Nik to finish the art. It’s a compilation of the singles.

I’m also working on a…I want to make a folk record. I got an acoustic guitar at the beginning of the pandemic, in like March or something. I want to do something like Third Ear Band or Comus kind of. 

RCU: Oh now that would be very cool. 

GB: Yeah that last track on the album was kind of like…I was originally going to save it for this thing, but then I stuck it on there. That’s my next thing. I don’t know when I’ll be done with it, I’m not really close so [laughs].

RCU: Well, I really look forward to hearing that, because while that closing track is short, I really felt transfixed by it and just loved everything about that sound. I only wished it had gone on for a whole other LP side or something! [laughs]

GB: [laughs] Yeah totally. 

RCU: Nice, I’m psyched to hear that once it’s complete!  

Big thanks again to Beyschau for taking the time to chat with me. Don’t forget that you can still purchase Tambourinen’s album on vinyl from his Bandcamp page and digitally from Centripetal Force Records. If you are in the UK and you want to keep an eye out for any potential second pressings of the LP, you’ll find it here on Cardinal Fuzz’s Bandcamp site.

-KH


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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