Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Townhouse Interviews: Beau Beasley from Insect Warfare

Insect Warfare were a no-holds-barred, grind throwback from Houston, Texas.  Though they were around for a relatively short time, they have rightly earned themselves a place alongside the legends of the genre.  While Grindcore certainly isn't for everyone, there can be no mistaking its merit as an art.  It's a primal expression of human emotion, or perhaps as Beau Beasley might see it, a reflection of its demise.  Beau was the guitarist and a founding member of Insect Warfare, and he was kind enough to do an interview for the Townhouse. 

Evan Jones Who are you, and what do you, I guess did you, do in Insect Warfare?

Beau Beasley My name is Beau and I did guitar/electronic noise blasts in IW.

EJ What was your musical journey?  When did you start playing guitar, how did you get into this music, early influences, etc.?

BB I started playing guitar around middle school and at that time was just interested in learning Slayer and Metallica riffs.  I kind of did that by myself til senior year in High School when I started playing with a death metal band called Coffin Grinder.  It sounded kind of like Symphonies era Carcass with some Death riffs thrown in.  After that I just played guitar and bass in a bunch of punk, power violence, noise, and grind bands.  There are too many early influences to list but as far as grind goes I remember being really in Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, and Carcass like most people in my age range.

EJ What is your day job.  How does it affect your music?

BB I run a giant machine called a Pitney Bowes DI2000 mail insertion system.  Basically I press start and then constantly fix it when it fucks up, which is all the fucking time.  It doesn't really relate to my music but there's been many times when I'm sitting with it running and thinking about how much it sounds like a power electronics record.

EJ So what do you say to critics of heavy music, and particularly of y'alls brand of heavy, which is on the even more extreme end of the scale?

BB Do you mean critiques as in negative?  If so then I think this kind of music is really a type of thing that you either get it or you don't.  There are still a lot of people who can't get past the 20 second song thing.  "That's not music".  Well, its not supposed to be.

EJ Grindcore is one of the many thousands of (I kid...kind of) sub-genres in metal.  However, as a visual artist I know that while there's a little merit to classifying things into genres, 99% of the time that's all it is.  A name.  And there's too much gray area for it to really mean much more than that.  Do you or IW as a band ever think about genres and what they mean? 

BB I really like to look at genre name like Witch House and think about how that really is just like the most extreme form of someone trying to create something new or kitschy as far as genre classification goes.  It applies to all forms of music.  I remember at some point in the late 90's someone telling me they listened to Fastcore and someone listening to Slowcore, but I mean, isn't that really just Thrash (punk variant) or Sludge?  People just try too fucking hard to be cutting edge.  That being said, I don't think there is any other word that describes grind core better than GRIND.

EJ Does it have any effect on your approach to Insect Warfare?  I guess I mean do you feel any obligation to the idea of grindcore in writing music for Insect Warfare?

BB Not really.  I just kind of listened to Napalm Death a bunch and what came out is what came out.

EJ So you guys wrote some pretty extreme music, or as your Spotify bio states, grind in its least accessible form.  To someone who might say, wtf why would anyone want to do that, I would ask you, what is the point?  What drives you guys to make this kind of music?

BB Hm, I guess as far taking music towards its least accessible form I would say that we tried that with the 2nd and final 12" "Noise Grind Power Death".  That was really just an attempt to write anti music (which was done before us by bands like world, Arsedestroyer, Anal Cunt, GBN, etc.)

EJ So I read an interview you did where you said one of the reasons to end IW was because you didn't want to regurgitate the music.  That's a very admirable and tough decision to make for an artist. Is there anywhere left for grindcore in general to go in your opinion?  I think about minimalist painting for example.  At a certain point, you've ended up with a blank canvas.  Where can you go from there?

BB I can't speak for anyone else but when trying to find ways to take IW in a direction that would keep us from repeating ourselves it just didn't sound right and didn't feel natural.  I'm sure someone will make that progression.  It needs to happen.  I've said it before and I will say it again, Discordance Axis were the last band to truly move the genre forward.  In my opinion, we kind of moved it backwards but it worked with what we were doing.  I know it sounds like I'm trying to sound hip but I just feel my statement about DA is accurate.

EJ Now there's also a lot of shock value in the cousin-genres of grind.  Themes of mutilation, gore in general, Satanism, ya know.  To me, it's easy to be shocking, but it's a lot harder to be honest.  I sense IW wasn't/isn't about shock-value.

BB No, we made a decision pretty early on not to include gore, misogynistic, and religious type themes into our music and instead just focus on the downfall of humanity.  I'd rather try and observe reality instead of just write some pointless shit. 

EJ Tangent, what's the most extreme band in your opinion?

BB GG Allin

EJ In another interview someone from IW described the music as primitive.  Maybe it's as simple as that?

BB Yeah there's really not much to what we did.  When I was writing riffs for IW it was really at a time when grind was kind of drifting away from the things that were laid down by Napalm Death, Terrorizer, etc.  I just kind of chose to try and take it back to its primitive beginnings.  This kind of relates to the previous question where I stated I felt that we pushed grind backwards instead of forwards (good or bad I'm not sure).

EJ So I've never been to a grindcore show and I'm not in the scene beyond the fact that I like the music, but as with punk music, there's also kind of a lifestyle or a worldview associated with grindcore.  Do you think you necessarily have to be "in the scene" to get everything out of the music there is to gain, or do you believe it can speak for itself, and listening can be enough?  

BB I don't really feel I'm part of a scene.  If you saw me on the street you probably wouldn't know I played in a grind band.  What drew me to grind (and underground extreme music in general) was the fact that it was anti-scene.  The irony is the more I got involved I realized it was even more of a sheep scene than most scenes that don't scream about being anti-conformity every song.

EJ What are you listening to these days?

BB To be honest, nothing.  This has probably been the only time in my life that I've never listened to music. I' m constantly working on music in my head and playing that but I don't feel the desire to put on a record or anything like that.  I think it might be too that I sit in a room 9 to 10 hours a day with a droning machine and when I'm not there I just want my ears to rest.  I did listen to trap music for a while though because I was becoming really fascinated with the production more so than the songs. Some of those 808 hits those guys are dropping are fucking speaker destroying.  That's what I'm into I guess.  Complete sonic destruction.  Trying to fit sounds in a song just doesn't interest me much right now.  Hearing them fucking ruin a speaker however …..

EJ You once likened being in a grindcore band to throwing money into a burning trashcan haha. Rarely does true art, the things that change people's lives and their way of looking at the world, pay.  Why do you think that is?  Why do the meaningful honest things we create tend to not reap a financial reward? 

BB Well, money should never be the point.  All great art is created because someone was more concerned with getting something out of their heads foremost and not worried about what financial gains will be achieved afterwards.  People can say all kinds of things about us for signing a license agreement with Earache but for one, we aren't making any money off that (trust me, all of us are slaving away at day jobs) and two, the things I wrote on World Extermination are probably the most sincere things I've ever worked on in my life.  The reason those songs sound like that were because that was a time of heavy depression, paranoia, betrayal, and isolation for me.  Thinking of where that record would go or if we would see a dime was so far away from my mindset that it's almost unfathomable to me someone would think that.  I was just trying to get all that frustration out and what I had at the time was IW.  Anyone who wants to shit on that and try to act like that's not true can if they want but its true to me at least.

EJ Is it maybe better that way?  Does it keep it pure? 

BB Well yeah, of course.

EJ Is grindcore dead?  That's a little tongue-in-cheek.

BB I actually think its more alive now than it was in its hay day.  The internet has done wonders for it.

EJ This has become a staple here at the Townhouse: what do you think of the state of music these days?

BB There are too many bands because everyone wants to start a band camp, release a shitty demo, break up, and use up all the good band names in the process.

EJ Do you pay any attention to the effect technology has had on music?

BB Yeah this is actually the one part of music I'm interested in these days.  Aside from recording technology I'm just amazed at some of things happening between computers and music.  I saw a guy a few years ago in Houston (can't remember his name) that basically just had a laptop on stage and had it jacked into the PA.  He was running coding scripts and using that to generate the music/noise that was coming out of the PA.  It was great.  That truly interested me.  It wasn't music but just sound moving in all these crazy, weird, weaving rhythms.  I hope more of that type of thing happens.

EJ And what's next for you? 

BB Death at some point.

EJ Anything youd like to share in closing?  Promotions, life advice, anything at all.

BB I don't really have any good advice on life but I always kind of found this quote from John Carpenter interesting: "To Make Michael Myers frightening I had to make him walk like a man, not a monster".  I think that pretty much sums up humanity to me.


Though they're now officially disbanded, Insect Warfare music and merch can be purchased from their Bandcamp.