The Beths :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Just over a year ago, The Beths were a little-known pop-rock band with a promising EP to their name and a full-length album stuck in the sort of slo-mo creative process that often encumbers musicians with real lives and rent payments and day jobs.

Over several months, the Auckland, New Zealand quartet chipped away at the record when they could -- a couple songs here, a couple songs there, with no pressure from outside entities or expectations, according to the band’s singer and main songwriter, Liz Stokes. Then they got a “kick in the butt” from a friend, she said, and committed to finish the thing.

And that’s when The Beths started picking up steam. Lots of it. And quickly.

First, Stokes and her band mates -- guitarist Jonathan Pearce, bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Ivan Luketina-Johnson -- decided to quit their jobs and start booking a tour, “just to see what would happen,” Stokes says. Then, they started talking to respected indie label Carpark Records about putting out the album.

Carpark released The Beths’ debut LP, Future Me Hates Me, in August, and it’s packed top to bottom with pitch-perfect pop-punk-rock songs built from barbed guitars, relentless hooks, sugary harmonies and Stokes’ deadpan delivery of biting lines like “I’m gonna drink the whole town dry. Put poison in my wine and hope that you’re the one who dies.” Across 10 tightly wound tracks, the band sounds like Velocity Girl fronted by Courtney Barnett, laced with Blue Album crunch, backing ooohs and aaahs worthy of the Beach Boys and a hint of that sweet Kiwi jangle coursing through their veins.

What followed was wondrous: an avalanche of glowing reviews from DIY indie-rock blogs and Big Media alike. “A wonderful little record that never lets up,” wrote Rolling Stone, “piling on unassumingly buzzy fun until you start realizing you might be in the presence of a true power-pop monument.” Now, the band is setting off on a world tour of rooms that were probably big enough when they were booked, but now are starting to sell out in advance.

Stokes is trying to take it all in stride, but that’s not something that necessarily comes naturally. Aquarium Drunkard caught up with her via Skype for a conversation about writing hooks, embracing sincerity and the reaction the band’s getting back home. Below is that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Future Me Hates Me by The Beths

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