June 8, 2012 in In-Studio
The District Attorneys kicked off their summer tour last night in Atlanta. Tonight they’ll serenade a Savannah audience at The Jinx (along with Modern Skirts, courtesy of Savannah Stopover). The Athens-based band consists of four high-school friends—Chris Wilson, Drew Beskin, Frank Keith IV, and Walker Beard—and fellow Athenian T.J. Mimbs. After releasing two free EPs on Bandcamp, The District Attorneys are promoting the release of their debut full-length album Slowburner with a 10-stop tour.
I spoke with band co-founder, guitarist, and often lead singer (though all band members have sung lead on at least one song) Drew Beskin about the band, the album, and of course, their favorite food.
SCAD Radio: So this has to be pretty exciting, your first full-length album.
Drew: Yeah, it feels like a long time coming. When we started the band we had about 10 songs to start off with. By the time we released our first EP we had about 20 or so songs, and we were really itching to make a full-length record, but it took awhile because the first 20 songs we had were definitely not the 20 songs that we released [on Slowburner]. There was a lot of trial and error. We think the timing is right, and we’re really excited about this record.
SR: What influenced the decision to release your first two EPs for free on Bandcamp?
Drew: I guess more of a good faith type of thing. The reward for us, especially right now, is that we just want people to listen to it, so we don’t want anything like money to get in the way of people listening to the music. If they like it, hopefully they’ll come back and buy the record when it comes out. We do it so other people can listen to it and enjoy it; everything else is secondary.
SR: What’s your favorite song off the new album?
Drew: We collectively all really like…we’re all very impressed with how the song “Cherry Glow” came out. On the record it’s a very acoustic, very laid-back song, and when we were playing it live and when we wrote it was more of an upbeat—I wouldn’t say a rocker, but it was completely different than how it turned out on the record. That’s probably the one we spent the most time in the studio with…we just kept changing the style of the song, and then luckily we figured out we wanted to do a bare-bones, folk version of that. We’re all kind of proud of that one. I really like “Confusion of Trust,” I think that one turned out really well. And then we all like “Worry about Your Health” and “Madison Row.” They’re all our babies, we love them all.
SR: Where did you get the name “The District Attorneys”?
Drew: The truth is, there’s a Bob Dylan song called “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and our first EP is called “Orders From…” which is from the line in that song. There’s this music video of him just kind of standing there being very Bob Dylan, not doing anything, just holding maybe 60 flashcards. The music video is just one shot on Bob Dylan, and as the lyrics play in the background, he’s dropping cards and each card has one of the words in each line. If you look at that video, on the line “Orders from the DA” he drops the card and it says “district attorney.” I always liked that video and the handwriting of how he did that and it just kind of stuck out. Plus I love Bob Dylan, so it’s kind of a tribute.
Drew: I play a Fender Mustang. It’s the same kind that Beth Constantino played in Best Coast. It’s also the same one that Kurt Cobain played.
SR: What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle that you guys have had to overcome to get your music out there?
Drew: I would say the biggest challenge and the biggest saving grace has been patience with everything. Because you know, as much as we would like to jump into a van and just go on the road for three years and just not stop, we understand—2012, we’re living in it, it’s a more digital age, and we’re able to try and build a brand via our social media pages and try and figure out what it is that we actually have and what we have to offer. We’ve been patient trying to figure out which songs work, which songs don’t work, what do we want to release immediately, what do we want to sit on. Everyone’s got their own opinions on everything, but basically we all know that we want to be steady handed with everything that we do. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
SR: If you could play on a dream tour with three bands, current or past, which bands would you pick?
Drew: Just because I think it would be fun: Rilo Kiley, Modest Mouse, and Oasis.
SR: Where is your favorite place to eat as a band?
Drew: We’ve only been to this place once—we went to Gus’s [World Famous] Fried Chicken, which was in Tennessee when we were on the road to Austin last year. We only went there once, but that’s pretty much all we ever talk about. It was labeled the “World’s Best Fried Chicken,” and it was the best fried chicken. It was delicious, and we always talk about it. I usually keep my Gus’s [World Famous] Fried Chicken cup in my car with me. We all like it because we all like the show Breaking Bad, and it’s kind of relevant to the main bad guy in that show. When we do practices we like the 5-5-5 Domino’s deal.
SR: What’s the best movie you’ve seen lately?
Drew: Me and a few of my friends just re-watched Alien in anticipation for Prometheus. It’s a classic. I hadn’t seen that in so long; it really holds up. I’m honestly counting the days until The Dark Knight Rises. I know it’s going to be the best movie I’ll ever see. I went and saw that movie Cabin in the Woods, and I didn’t expect anything from that. I had no idea what it was going to be about, and I thought it was one of the most interesting funny movies I’ve ever seen. I thought it was great, I thought it had a little bit of everything. It also has Richard Jenkins.
SR: What one piece of advice would you give to people who are just starting their own band?
Drew: I guess…when you get your band together, aside from the obvious practicing, before you do anything try and have some material, you know, demo something, have something up to show people. Try and get something that you can give to people, even if it’s just a live video or something. And also, something that we learned, don’t play in the same place every week. Spread it out and be patient.
See The District Attorneys LIVE with Modern Skirts, Friday June 8, 2012 @ The Jinx (presented by Savannah Stopover). Show starts @ 10:00pm. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. For more about The District Attorneys, check out thedasmusic.com. Slowburner is available through This Is American Music.