Meet London-based post-punk outfit Beige Banquet!
Formed in 2020, Beige Banquet started as the solo recording project of guitarist and vocalist Tom Brierley and has now evolved into a full five-piece band featuring Joe Munsey (Guitar), Danny Gillies (Bass), Ian Crafter (Drums) and Blake Carlson-Joshua (Percussion/Synths).
Debut single ‘Wired/Weird’ got airplay on BBC Introducing London, Boogaloo Radio, Amazing Radio and PBS (Melbourne) and was followed up by DIY debut album “Beta”, released in January 2021.
"Beta" was entirely written, recorded and produced in Brierley’s bedroom studio during the first half of 2020 and delivers post-punk at its frenetic, experimental best.
Their new self-titled 10” EP along with second single 'Construction’ will be out 13th August 2021. After playing our very successful gig at The Victoria Dalston back in July with Pigeonhole and MADE, we thought it was time to have a chat with Tom.
Please give our readers a little intro of who you are. How are things at the Beige Banquet camp?
Hey! We’re Beige Banquet, a five-piece punk band from London. It started out as my little recording project over lockdown but we’ve left the drum machines behind and we’re now a ‘proper’ band, whatever that means! Things are great here thanks, with the return of live music, things are really exciting and we just can’t wait to get out there and play lots of gigs. It’s been far far too long.
Let's talk about your debut album “Beta” - which I am a massive fan off!!! It was done all DIY style in your bedroom and coincided with the Covid pandemic - What's it about? What was it inspired by? Was it meant to be produced that way or was it due to the restrictions?
Thanks so much! Well, I actually wrote the majority of the songs right at the start of 2020, before the first lockdown, and I had planned to get a band together, rehearse, play gigs and then record it in a studio, you know the normal way, but of course the pandemic got in the way a little. As all that was put on hold I had this massive fear that I’d forget all the songs so I thought why not have a go at producing it myself in my bedroom. I’d never really done any of that stuff before (apart from demos) so there was a huge learning curve involved and it never really crossed my mind that anyone apart from a handful of close friends would ever hear it. But the response has been great and it’s even had a vinyl release too. It’s been a wild journey through this album and as I did everything myself (apart from the artwork and mastering) it was a huge amount of hard work. We’re still keen to keep the DIY ethos and release music through our label Just Step Sideways, but I’m not sure I’d do everything myself anytime soon.
You just played your first ever gig in London – which I reckon must have been super exciting and rewarding? Tell us a bit about the other members you assembled for the live shows.
It was a very rewarding and cathartic experience, but that was to be expected, having played live for over two years. I was just so excited that live music was happening again and it was the fact I was actually at a gig, watching bands, with my mates that really blew my mind, I had to keep pinching myself.
But with the fully formed live line-up, Beige Banquet is no longer my little bedroom recording project and feels very much like a real band. It’s something that we’ve definitely outgrown and  It’s certainly how we’d like to be perceived going forward. The line-up came together quite naturally, Joe and I have been talking about doing music together, across a few different projects, for a while so I was dead set on him picking up the 2nd guitar parts. We decided we wanted a much more dynamic sound when playing live so we asked Ian, who I'd played with in a short lived band back in 2019, to play drums. Moving away from the drum machine, we needed someone to pick up all the additional claps and clicks so Blake got involved on percussion and it really added so much to the sound. And finally, I'd been speaking with Danny a little bit online (one of my many new Instagram friends made through the pandemic) as he wrote a review for 'Wired/Weird' for Groupie mag and he was keen to get involved as soon as he heard we were making it into a live thing. He certainly added a lot in terms of sound and stature and really made the bass parts his own.
Things came together really quickly and we knew pretty soon the dynamic was right, I didn't want us to just try and replicate the record on stage so we let the songs grow and develop and everyone has brought something and added a bit of themselves into the performance. We're absolutely a band now and I'm just delighted I've got a group of mates, who are absolutely the best bunch of people, to share this experience with.
Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction or did it simply gradually evolve??
It’s definitely not a contrived journey but when one band ends it certainly bleeds a little into the next and does create a type of sonic journey. Writing music is a bit of a compulsion for me and I tend to make the music I want to hear and it’s usually a reflection of what I’m listening to and where I am at the time. I think maybe in a few years I'll be able to look back and see the evolution with my songwriting and the projects I've been in but it's really hard to get that perspective when you're so close. It's also best not to think about things too much! I just want to keep making and playing the music I love and doing what makes me happy. I think as soon as you consider what something sounds like to the external world, if people will like it, if it's any good, it does lose a certain sense of authenticity.
What do you do outside of music? / Do you have any hobbies that you turn to to rejuvenate your creativity?
I really love nature and just being outside, it's pretty dorky but I love camping and hiking. I love mountains and I love the coast. With the pandemic I've had a new found appreciation for the UK and its natural beauty, I've spent so much of my life scurrying off to the other side of the world, it feels pretty great to realise I can find what I love right here. I find that nature is really refreshing for me but yet I'm definitely shackled by the city and I'm tied to what it offers in terms of a music scene.
What’s the best/worst advice you ever received?
I think the best advice was to buy a Elektron Digitakt. I was speaking with my friend Max (Bo Gritz) and I was telling him I had a bunch of songs and I didn't know what to do, that I wanted to try recording them myself but I didn't know what to do about the drums. He suggested a Digitakt and that I could load some vintage drum samples into it and I'd be totally self-sufficient when producing music. I bought one the next day and it really defined the sound of the first record.
In your opinion – best thing to do in London?
Leave. Nah, I’m joking! I do generally have a fickle relationship with the city, but there’s plenty I love about it. I really like the early mornings here, so I'd say get up and walk down the Lea River through Hackney Marshes, or even go to Roman Road or Ridley Road market and watch people set up their market stalls. It's a different side of London that sometimes feels so obscured by the gentrified pubs and yummy-mummy gift shops.
If we were to look at the artists you are listening to, who would be on your playlist?
I’m a huge fan of what Mangel Records in Berlin and Domestic Departure records in Portland have been putting up out and in particular the latest Klapper and CDG releases have been getting a lot of love. There’s a real non-commercial coolness and honesty in these releases that make them stand out almost a lot of the stuff that’s coming out of the UK at the moment.
What's next on your agenda? Future goals for you?
Well we have our new EP coming out on the 13th August! The single ‘AWAKE’ is out now and you can pre-order the EP on 10” vinyl through our label Just Step Sideways. Apart from that we’re just really excited to play lots of gigs, hopefully tour the UK and Europe this year and work on a new album!
Live Dates:
August 13th - Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, London - Release show
August 14th - Mabgate Bleach, Leeds - Release show
September 24th - George Tavern, London - w/ Saloon Dion - Play It Loud UK's next show, get your tickets via Dice here.
November 11th - Bermondsey Social Club, London - w/ Qlowski
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