The Beta Band Biography

    I am now going to sell five copies of “The 3 EP’s” by The Beta Band.” – John Cusack, High Fidelity

      cue possibly their finest track “Dry The Rain”…

The Beta Band are Stephen Mason on guitar & vocals, drummer Robin Jones and John McLean on decks & samples. They were (and probably still are) all friends from Edinburgh. Later on they were joined by Richard Greentree on bass.

They are a band whose public image is wilfully strange; They have done many publicity photos dressed as Mexican bandits, once they gave out tequila shots dressed as banditos prior to their gig following the release of the 3 EPs, early press releases described them as “4-piece quartet consisting of four people”, “Pastoral” is Stephen Mason’s least favourite journalistic description of The Beta’s music. And it’s musically they really start to confuse people…

While searching for info on The Beta’s I made a list of the artists and groups that they have been compared to in attitude, sound or people they were suspected of sampling.

Here’s the list :- Beck, Third Eye Blind, Laurie Anderson, Syd Barrett , Crash Worship, Pink Floyd, Roky Erickson, Chemical Brothers, Jonathan Richman, Public Enemy, Radiohead, John Denver, Korn, LL Cool J, “Murmur-era R.E.M. remixed by German-dubmaster Pole” {from a forum, I forget where}, Benny Hill, The Beastie Boys, Dr. John, Stone Roses, Wu-Tang, Dr. Octagon, Mighty Arrow (60’s calypso guy), Kool Keith, JJ Cale, Beenie Man, Lou Reed, Al Green, Nick Drake, “Fairport Convention remixed by King Tubby” {another forum…}, Vaselines, Stereolab, “RZA jamming on Krautrock” {people do talk some shit in forums don’t they!}, Negativland, Spike Jones, ‘Grown up’ Ween, Bonnie Tyler (They quote “Total Eclipse of the Heart”…Once upon a time I was falling apart, Now I’m only falling in love…), “Mr. Sandman” and Pavement. As a warning I should add that Noel Gallagher wants Oasis to be “moving in a Beta Band direction”…

Also The Beta Band are by the same token a folk, hip-hop, reggae, pop, classic rock, electronica, chamber music, Celtic music, Bay Area jam, B-boy band.

What that list says to me is this. The Beta Band sound just like The Beta Band. Listen to them. You will then know what they sound like.

Their career has no doubt been helped enormously by designer (he was responsible for virtually every Oasis sleeve released up till then) and now manager Brian Cannon adding weight to their claims. However strange the claims happened to be.

In July 1997 The Beta’s released their first EP, the 4 track Champion Versions containing “Dry The Rain”, “I Know”, “B and A” and “Dogs Got A Bone”. They drafted in Nick McCabe of the Verve as a producer.

According to the weekly music press they are the dreaded “next big thing”! They followed that with 2 other EP’s The Patty Patty Sound in March 1998 (“Inner Meet Me”, “The House Song”, “The Monolith” and “She’s The One”) and then, in July 1998, Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos (“Push it Out”, “It’s Over”, “Dr Baker” and “Needles in my Eyes”). All the tracks from these EP’s were combined on the THE 3 EP’s album released in September 1998.

In January 2000, as the press release puts it, The Beta Band released their first single. That single was the double A-side “To You Alone/Sequinsizer”. The same press release, of the 25 January, also claims “The Beta Band have even got under the skin of Mr Danny Devito of USA and a Ms Anna Kournikova of Russia (planet wide super power beats!) More adventures of The Beta Band this century. Stay tuned.” Weirdo’s…

1999 saw The Beta Band release an eponymous album. Sales may have been affected somewhat by the band declaring that it was “Rubbish“.

Thought I would finish up with a couple of quotes…

    Richard Greentree, taking the piss out of Radiohead – “Everybody gets miserable. There’s no point making a career out of it.
    Stephen Mason, on comparing bands – “What’s the point? It’s like comparing your glasses to my glasses.

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