Interview with Bells and Hunters
- by Dawn Reed
Deli: How did the band start?
Eric Putnam (bass): Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of man as we knew him...
Kelly Ann Beavers (vocals): As a joke.
Keith Fischer (guitar/vocals): We really had no intention of starting a band. Five years ago, Kelly mentioned to me that she liked to sing so we decided to get together one night and sing a few songs. I was immediately impressed by the uniqueness of her voice so we just kept getting together every week to play and eventually write. After a year, we said, "maybe we should put a band together."
What's the story behind the band name?
Kelly: I don't know exactly, but I'm sure it's a fairy tale.
Keith: It has something to do with nicknames and ghost hunting.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Kelly: Feist, Tegan and Sara, Lykke Li
Keith: Blind Melon, The Avett Brothers, old school Guns n Roses, anything Chris Cornell does.
What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Eric: Justin Timberlake, the new Phoenix single, The Epochs
Kelly: I'm loving The Sideshow Tragedy, a rad band from Austin, TX, as well as Meshell Ndegeocello, and No Doubt.
Keith: I love the new Soundgarden album, I think it's really cool that those guys can come back after so long and put out a killer record like they never took a decade off. Locally, I'm a really big fan of Laura Zax and her band, The Nighttime Adventure Society. I believe she just moved from DC to NYC so anyone up there should definitely check her out. Also Derek Evry and His Band of Misanthropes, Harris Face and the Restoration, The Fed, Skip House, and Cherry Tree (just to name a few) are all fellow local DC artists and friends of ours that are doing really great things with their music. I should also mention that I've been really inspired recently by this kid Zach Sobeich from Minnesota. He's a teenager that has been diagnosed with terminal cancer but he isn't letting that stop him from pursuing his dreams and raising awareness through his music. Amazing people like him help keep things in perspective for me.
What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
Eric: First Concert was Imogen Heap in Milwaukee, first album was Superunknown by Soundgarden.
Kelly: First concert... hm. It may have very well been the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX. I remember having a Minnie Mouse coloring book with me, so it must have been a long time ago! Or wait... that could have been last week. Album, the Judds on cassette got a lot of air time, as well as Amy Grant. My first CD was Alanis Morissette's first album. Rawr.
Keith: I usually lie and say it was Aerosmith at Jones Beach Theater (4 Non Blondes opened), but that was really my second concert. The truth is that I saw New Kids on the Block at the Nassau Coliseum when I was in 5th grade. My dad and I were one of the only males there. The first album I can remember buying with my own money was probably Guns n Roses' "Use Your Illusion II".
What do you love about DC's music scene?
Eric: That, at least in our experience, it seems to pull people from all over the country. We've played with bands from everywhere and beyond.
Kelly: It is a big scene with a small-town feel. I like that.
Keith: It's been very welcoming and supportive. It may not be as big a scene as some cities like NY, Austin, Nashville, etc but because of that all the artists, regardless of genre, seem to band together and really support each other. It's been great to cut our teeth in an environment like that.
What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
Kelly: I would like to see more people at shows, crazier makeup, and more wild dancing!
Keith: I would say in the 5 years we've been a part of it, we've definitely seen the DC music scene grow and become more established. Say what you want about the Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Fest that has occurred the past few years, but in my opinion it has helped bring bands together and has been a vehicle for promoting local music to new fans, which at the end of the day is what we need more of.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
Eric: SXSW 2014!
Kelly: Buy new cowboy boots. Sing while playing drums on stage, and design clothes and jewelry.
Keith: We have a video for "Maybe a Fool" coming out later this month which we are excited about. We also are halfway finished with our third album which so far has been completely recorded in my basement and will be way more stripped down and acoustic. The band started with just Kelly's vocals and my acoustic guitar so we want to release a set of music that is more representative of that.
What was your most memorable live show?
Eric: St Patrick's Day at the Black Squirrel. There was so much positive energy on stage, we played really well, and I think we all had a great time doing it.
Kelly: I cherish the memory of the Level X Lounge show. We played with a stellar local band, Level 7. When I walked off the stage that night, I just remember feeling like the entire room (and my soul) was lit up in lavender light. It was a magical and transformative evening.
Keith: Our album release for Weddings and Funerals at the IOTA Club and Cafe was a special one for me.
Is there someone who has helped your band grow through support?
Kelly: Billy Flip, our original band manager. His aura lights up my heart. Also, so humbled and inspired by the incredible writing that Tony Porreco put together in his review of the Weddings and Funerals album. It lifts me up to feel that someone is listening closely enough to develop such a cool, refined sense of what we are creating.
Keith: I can't thank Christopher Todd Goodin (who recorded and mixed most of Weddings and Funerals) enough for his patience and enthusiasm over the 2 years of slow but steady progress on the album. The record wouldn't exist today if it wasn't for him. He is also a talented musician in his own right and fronts a great band called Green Light at the End. Also, we were humbled to work with the legendary Don Zientara who recorded and produced the last track on the album, "Grey Before the Dawn". The day we spent at Inner Ear with him was an experience we will never forget as we got to see first hand his ability to put an artist at ease and really draw the best possible performance out of us. All I could think the whole day was 'Omg, this guy has produced Fugazi, how are we even working with him?!?'
Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
Eric: My sunglasses. They really give my tone that edge that I need to cut through the mix and allow me to play wicked lines all over the neck.
Kelly: My tutu. (Curtsy)
Keith: Our old bass player Cliff Reed would often make fun of my lack of knowledge and preference about gear. I've been playing the same electric guitar (Gibson Les Paul Studio) since High School after I bought it from my friend Brian Sendrowitz (currently of the awesome Brooklyn based band Beat Radio) for a few hundred bucks. I try to keep things as simple as possible for my own sake.