Earlier this year, The Spirit of the Beehive released their latest studio album, Hypnic Jerks, their most polished project yet. It has a consistent sound to it that encapsulates the state between wakefulness and sleep. It’s dreamy, but then hits you with a chaotic barrage of sounds, such as the screamed, repeated line, “Can I receive the contact!” on “can i receive the contact?.”
The band came through Dan’s Silver Leaf in October at during their tour with Pile, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Zach Schwartz and Rivka Ravede before the show. I found out more about Hynic Jerks, the band members themselves, and their recording process.
What was the inspiration behind the band name, was it the Spanish film of the same name?
Zach Schwartz: Yeah, I guess we all like that movie, but that wasn’t the first choice, it was just a mutual agreement.
Rivka Ravede: It was just a placeholder.
ZS: Yeah it was a placeholder but now it’s the name.
When was Hypnic Jerks recorded? I read in an interview that I think was either from last year or 2016, where you had mentioned that you already had been working on it, and you described it as like nightmarish, so I thought that sounded like Hypnic Jerks.
ZS: We recorded it in December of 2017, did it in seven days.
Seven Days, what was that like? What made it so fast?
ZS: It was around the holidays, so we had to do it before we left before the new year or Christmas or whatever.
RR: Well it was just supposed to be a short thing we were pushing out
ZS: Yeah it was going to be a tape and it ended up being a full record
What made you change your mind?
ZS: just more ideas, more songs than we had started with
What was the idea behind the d.o.u.b.l.e.u.r.o.n.g. wrong music video?
ZS: Oh, there wasn’t. We just wanted to have a video for something, and I had a friend who was working on one, but he didn’t send me one in time, so we just filmed that after practice one day.
RR: While I was very sick.
ZS: Yeah, she was super sick, I think that comes through in the video.
A Little bit.
RR: Do I look sick?
You don’t look sick, but it seems like you’re doing it on purpose, like you’re trying to act that way [all laugh]
RR: No, I was just dying. That’s 100% Bronchitis.
ZS: That’s 100% grade-A sickness.
RR: Yeah that’s grade-A phlegm.
I know that the audio samples from that song came from I believe your fathers audio recordings, what were those? It kind of sounds like he’s doing skits of some sort.
RR: My dad had a tape recorder from like when he was maybe 7 to like 14 or something and he just always recorded everything like phone calls, and just conversations and stuff. And so, Zach just cut them up from like hours and hours of like weird shit.
How did you pick from them?
ZS: Just kind of listened to all of them alone in the apartment one night, there was some scary shit in there.
There were some in there that just gave off a creepy sort of vibe
ZS: I didn’t even put those in. Maybe I’ll put that on the B side, just scariest stuff from the 70s. But yeah no, just listened to all of it, kinda picked a story arc.
How are the albums created, do you work on it together as a group or does one of you come up with ideas or is it sort of just like whatever happens that sounds good?
ZS: We all work on stuff together, but in the end, I guess it’s more about the mixing, putting it together. I guess I have most of the songs pretty much written before practice, but there’s always room.
Since you mentioned the mixing, how do you pick a sound engineer, who you want to mix and master?
ZS: Well we did the first couple records with a friend in a little studio, not a real studio, and he made records before that that sounded good, so we thought it would be a good fit and was. And then this last one we did with a different friend because he had a spot out in the woods and we really wanted to leave Philly to go record, because we always record in Philly. So, if you leave it feels more like “let’s get shit done.” And also, he’s a great engineer, his stuff sounds good.
So you guys went to like a completely different sort of environment to record Hypnic Jerks?
ZS: Yeah, we went to Northeast Pennsylvania.
RR: It was a lot easier of an environment to record because it wasn’t like, a dank warehouse so I feel that’s partially why the vibe is not as, not horrible but like, not as dark. I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s really why but that’s how I feel.
ZS: He has a different approach to recording too. Sounds more modern to me, I think.
I definitely get that comparing Hypnic Jerks to the last one, it does sound different. How did y’all come up with the theme for Hypnic Jerks. Did y’all have the them in mind of make it this dreamy but still sort of awake type of sound or did that just happen.
RR: I feel like it always happens after like when we do the mixing, like Zach mostly does all that. He makes it like. Because they’re usually pretty straightforward until the mixing and then he’ll add a bunch of shit, like the samples and like, like he slowed down my vocals for an entire song. I don’t know it all kind of happens in mixing with Zach.
ZS: I wanted it to be a pop record with mad hits on it, but that didn’t really happen. So, I don’t know I can’t help it.
RR: There’s hits, they’re all hits.
They’re all hits.
ZS: They’re all hits yeah. We like finished all the tracking and I was like these all sound good, but it sounds like its mixing something, so that’s when we kind of added the samples and then all the music samples I either made or I got from our friend Collin from Graves, Toronto band, kind of collaborated on that. And just makes the transitions a little smoother. I like that the most in a record, hearing stuff flow.
So, when I was researching I somehow stumbled upon this, I found like a baseball theme photoshoot you guys did, with someone named Scott Troyan, could you tell me more about that?
ZS: He’s a photographer in Philly and there’s a DIY venue called everybody hits that’s a batting cage, so when bands come through he takes photos and turns them into baseball cards.
RR: There’s an entire wall
ZS: Yeah there’s a ton of them. Every band that’s played there has a baseball card, or almost every band.
Wow that’s awesome. How or when did you know you wanted to make music. How did you know that you wanted to I guess start a band, or be in a band? Did you always know or was there a definitive moment?
ZS: No, I wanted to play baseball and then I wanted to make movies, but music just comes kinda easy I guess.
RR: I wanted to be a painter.
ZS: Now it just sounds sad [all laugh].
RR: Whoops, and now our dreams are crushed and now we’re just in a band.
Did you play instruments in high school?
ZS: I’ve been playing since I was like 15.
What did you start out with, Guitar?
ZS: Yeah doing like Green Day covers and stuff.
How do you pick what songs you’re going to do live whenever you’re touring?
ZS: That’s always hard because we have a lot of songs, but we always have some members come in and out, so it’s kind of hard to be consistent. You have to teach new people parts a lot, so it really just depends on how much time we have before a tour to try and learn stuff. But I guess, whatever’s most recent would be the most fun to do.
What was the last good movie or tv show you watched?
ZS: Oh man.
ZS: We just watched Mandy last night and was awesome, and today we were watching a show called Delocated which was awesome too.
I haven’t heard of either of those.
ZS: They’re good
I’ll check them out!
ZS: Mandy is kind of like the movie of a Spirit record.
RR: Kind of! It’s like Nicolas Cage and I don’t really know what happened, but I really liked the ride.
ZD: You don’t know what happened, but you loved it.
I guess that’s mostly it, other than that there’s one last question, what advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
ZS: Keep it going. Keep it up, just do it honestly.
RR: Yeah just do it.
ZS: Idk there’s probably a better response to that question
RR: Just write just do it.
ZS: Put in the work, play some shitty house shows before you’re like what the hell, this is not what I thought it was. Have low expectations [all laugh]
What do y’all have in mind next, I know you mentioned you wanted to make a more pop album, do you still want to continue that?
ZS: I don’t know kind of whatever happens, happens really. But yeah just keep writing and touring as much as we can.