w/ Cuzco, Gods
Fri. Oct. 25
137 Calhoun St.
Guilt, the new EP by Charleston band Catholics, takes several disparate musical styles and makes something unique. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Tyler Beall took his love of the towering, icy epics on The Cure’s classic album Disintegration and mixed that with the experimental, largely instrumental song-structures of bands like Tortoise, with some emo-influenced guitar tapestries thrown in.
None of that sounds like it would work well together, but the result is a six-track EP that plays almost like an extended suite, particularly the 13-minute, two-part epic “Chicago On Meth (Scene One & Two).” With the exception of the final track, a cover of Pygmy Lush’s “Asphalt,” the EP is all instrumental. The guitars sound massive, but they’re never overwhelming. Beall and guitarist Tallon Knight alternate intricate, interconnecting melodies with slashing power chords over bassist Andy Krepelka and recording drummer Price Smith’s ever-shifting rhythms.
The songs are so textured and unpredictable that one doesn’t really notice the lack of vocals at all, and an eclectic cast of auxiliary musicians, such as James Anderson (who created the string arrangements), guitarist Cameron Davidson, and trumpet player Patrick Marzett, lend a wide-screen dark grandeur to the EP.
“When we finished the songs, it was like they told the stories on their own,” Beall says. “I also felt like I wanted people to remember the melodies and have them in their heads. So adding vocals to a 13-minute song, it’s like that splits up their attention. If you’ve got to make it all the way through a 13-minute song, it’s very likely that you’re not going to remember the vocal line from the first two minutes when you’re in the 10th.”
Guilt was painstakingly recorded for over a year and a half at Beall’s house, Truphonic Recording, and at Ocean Industries Studios, which gave Beall and the band time to shape the songs exactly as they wanted them.
“It was just a matter of approaching each song individually,” Beall says. “Asking ourselves, ‘Does this song have everything it needs from a sonic point of view?’ That’s what kept us from having vocals, is that the mood and the atmosphere were right, and the songs told a complete story without having that extra vocal line. It was all there; if it’s not more catchy with vocals, then why add them?”
The band sounds so in sync with each other on Guilt that it’s hard to believe that the project started quite a while ago with Beall, a band name, and a completely different concept that involved him being a lead vocalist.
“I had plans for it to be like a Cure worship band,” Beall says. “Not like a band playing covers of the Cure, but just music similar to the Cure in essence. I was planning on being the vocalist, but I ended up teaching myself guitar over three years of working on this, and then in late 2015 and early 2016, we formed most of this lineup.”
While Beall mostly loved the Cure’s darkest material, specifically Disintegration and 1983’s Pornography, he says he found more musical inspiration in the moody variety of their overall catalog.
“They’re an all-encompassing band,” he says. “Everything seemed to depend on [singer-songwriter] Robert Smith’s mood or what he was going through as to whether the albums were happy or extremely sad. I was attracted to how wide a variety of sounds they purveyed; their music had multiple edges.”
As Beall learned how to play guitar, he melded the evocative nature of The Cure’s music with the angular, layered six-string sounds of bands like American Football and Loose Lips Sink Ships.
“It all worked itself into our sound,” he says. “It definitely all intersected, probably more than I had intended.”
The result (thanks to the band, their additional musicians, and the work of engineers and mixers Elliot Elsey and Eric Rickert) is a cohesive EP with an effective balance of serious sonic weight and structural complexity. It’s a balance that Beall says he wants Catholics to maintain, whether they eventually add more vocals or not.
“Eventually, I’d like to end up with more vocals in our sound,” he says, “but I don’t want to ever lose that foundation of instrumental music. I’d like to always keep at least 50 percent of our music instrumental.” Love Best of Charleston? Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.
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