From Shadowland to Frausdots
– a mail conversation with Brent Rademaker
by Mathias Krusell
This interview was conducted with Brent Rademaker during the fall of 2004 and winter of 2005 via mail. It was then worked into an article and published for the Swedish online music magazine Revolver in February 2005. The article has been translated from Swedish and is therefore different from the original article which you can find here.
I am a true fan of Beachwood Sparks, the kind of fan who wants to know everything. Everything from what the songs are about to what Chris Gunst studied at the university when he met Brent Rademaker and joined Further just in time for the single ‘I Wanna Be a Stranger/They Say It Couldn’t Happen Here…and It Didn’t’ to what ex-members in the band like Josh Schwartz are up to these days.
In spite of this, what made me contact Brent Rademaker wasn’t his role as a bass player in one of the most influential bands of the new millennia. It was his solo project, the goth rock band Frausdots with their smash hit melodies and big city desert themes. But when the World Wide Web contact was established and word documents with q/a started going back and forth I couldn’t keep myself from asking about possible Beachwood Sparks reunions and the new album from The Tyde.
Brent Rademaker is actually coming of age. His career is traceable back to Shadowland and A New Personality in the late 80s, where Brent, along with his brother Darren, played arena rock long before he was established as a psychedelic cowboy. And it is to the 80’s Rademaker now has returned. Along with girlfriend Michelle Loiselle he has now made an album which he says he could have recorded right after he finished high school.
Frausdots. Photo by Piper Ferguson.
You’ve said that your approach to the Frausdots was sort of 80’s rock from a Gram Parsons point of view. Is that how it was for you, what came first the psychedelia or the gothish music?
I guess darker rock (post-punk) came well before country music but psychedelia filled the music of Teardop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen who were among my faves growing up. I never really got into goth. Joy Division is more of a rock band and I guess I liked some Bauhaus and lots of Cure but not REAL goth.
When did you get into country-music? And who were the important artists for you?
Around 1995. Gene Clarks solo stuff mainly and The Byrds as well as Gram Parson and some more obscure groups.
For how long have you’ve been working on ‘Couture, Couture, Couture’? Planning and writing songs?
I’ve been trying to do a project like this for many years now and one of the songs.
In the opening song on the album, ‘Dead Wrong’, you have taken influence from the classic America song ‘Horse with No Name’. What’s your relationship to the America song?
I really like ‘Sister Golden Hair’ by America but kind of always made fun of ‘Horse with No Name’ for sounding like Neil Young. But I grew up hearing that song and I thought the relationship between the desert and the city was fitting for the intro for this song and it just kind of came out.
Is every song originally Frausdots songs or are any of them material that was first intended for Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde?
‘The Man Who Dreaded Sundown’, was originally intended for Beachwood Sparks.
Really, when did you write it? Why wasn’t it recorded?
Around the time of ‘Make The Robot Cowboys Cry EP’. I had a hard time getting songs to the band at that time because the balance was off. I think Beachwood Sparks would have done a better version.
Is Frausdots a one-album band or do you think that you’ll get back to this format after the next Tyde-album or so?
Well we are learning and writing new Frausdots songs right now. A progression, more raw but still dark and more repetition. I’m really into Iggy solo and some Stooges stuff as well as Julian Cope and early Teardrop Explodes. I’ll save the country for Beachwood Sparks.
The EP ‘Make The Robot Cowboys Cry’ was the last music Beachwood Sparks released. A very slow, almost frustratingly slow, EP which highlighted the folkish, psychedelic strokes in Beachwood Sparks music. Strokes which became even more clear on Chris Gunst self titled album from his solo project Mystic Chords of Memory.
But Beachwood Sparks hasn’t officially broken up, maybe mostly because the band isn’t on the same page on if they have a future of playing together. Since the last EP Brent Rademaker has been busy with his brother’s band, The Tyde.
The Tyde. Photo by http://www.thetyde.com
The Tyde released their first album, ‘Once’, in 2001. An album which in a convincing way melted the Rademaker brothers fascination for late 80’s British indie music with their love for California and the breezy country music originated from there. When rumours about The Tyde’s first album started appearing it was often described as a side project for Beachwood Sparks. Nothing could be more wrong. This is proven not just because The Tyde actually has outlived Beachwood Sparks since they now are recording their third album (their second was released in 2003 and is called ‘Twice’), but more so because the music recorded and presented by The Tyde isn’t in any way overshadowed by the legacy of Beachwood Sparks. Both of The Tyde’s album are wonderful independent works of dreamy cosmic American art.
So what can be expected of new Tyde material, and when? What have the other members of the band been up to since the last album?
Ann Do is on tour with Gwen Stephanie and Ric Menck is out with Matthew Sweet. Ben Knight is doing some solo shows and playing with Mystic Chords of Memory. Darren played a solo show in London and is working on the new record. From what I have heard and played on it’s great and sounds a lot like classic Tyde.
Between the first and second album by The Tyde there were some changes in line-up. Has the band got a stabile line-up now?
Pretty much I think. Ann, Darren, Ben, Ric and myself.
Even if the Tyde’s albums are truly wonderful, most of us has discovered Brent Rademaker’s music through Beachwood Sparks. The bands update of ‘Cosmic American Music’ has had an enormous effect and influence on Americana the last couple of years and through this band we have gotten the great music projects of Frausdots, Mystic Chords of Memory and All Night Radio. But even so, the rumor of a new album and a reunion never seems to die.
Beachwood Sparks. Photo by Autumn de Wilde
There has been a lot said about new Beachwood Sparks recordings, what can fans hope for? Are all or any members interesting in playing together under the band name? And, in your opinion, what happened with the band during the recording/after the release of Make The Robot Cowboys Cry EP?
I really can’t speak for anyone else regarding what happened or what the future recordings will sound like. All I can say is I love playing and singing in Beachwood Sparks and like anything a balance must be obtained to stay afloat. About the reunion, Aaron Sperske and I actually played some Beachwood Sparks songs one night in December at a club in Los Angeles. Real fun, we were close to having Chris Gunst join us. We then had a real reunion show in January with me, Aaron, Farmer Dave, Ben Knight and Neal Casal.
If you add up all the people involved in the different bands that has come out or has people involved from/in Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde it becomes a pretty big group of people. It has been called the Beachwood Sparks-family, how much truth is there in that expression?
I do feel like family not just friends or band mates with most of the people involved in all the groups. I love them all through thick and thin and that’s why I’m still around. I hope they feel the same way.
Originally published (in Swedish) by Revolver in February 2005