Neo-Psychedelia has become the fastest growing musical trend, and the genre that everyone who wants to be associated with. With that in mind, it’s easy to forget that it is people who make all of this possible and get the music out into the public domain in the first place.
Say Psych plans to address this issue by speaking to some of the labels most keenly associated with the best new psychedelia emerging and finding more about the men and women who are taking the time and energy to makes this great music accessible.
Next up we speak with Dai and Al from The Weird Beard.
Hey guys, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Let’s start things off by you telling us about what your motivation was to start a record label?
Dai: Weird Beard was born in 2016 when a few suspect characters got together and decided to start putting on gigs in Plymouth, the majority of us were living or working in the South West and it seemed like a good idea to get bands that we wanted to watch play locally. We managed to persuade You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons to make the journey from Portsmouth for the first one and had a great night at The Junction on Mutley Plain. It all started there really, it just seemed like a logical progression to start putting out records by bands that weren’t getting the exposure that we felt they deserved. Personally, having been involved in punk / hardcore for many years, I was really into the whole DIY ethic of that particular scene and the idea of giving something back to the community that had given us so much was pretty much a no brainer. I’ve always been an advocate of supporting new music and I don’t think there’s a better way of doing this than by providing a platform for lesser known or even unknown artists to share their work.
It seems DIY is the way to go these days, we’re hearing that time and time again. Tell us a bit about the genres you’ve been working with, it seems quite eclectic?
Dai: I’ve never really believed in limiting ourselves to a specific genre and I really wouldn’t like to have Weird Beard categorised as only releasing a certain type of music. But if you take a look at our output so far, then you can definitely see the general direction of where we’re coming from. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could describe it as neo-psychedelia, but I think that there are so many different elements to each of the bands / artists that we have released that it would be very unfair to pigeonhole them. A lot of the artists that we have worked with are improvisational in nature and I’m a really big fan of never quite knowing which direction the music is going to take you.
Al: When you hear something and think yes this is great I need to hear more of this, it’s a great buzz contacting bands or being contacted, seeing a project from start to finish
Where did the name come from?
Al: The Weird Beard name originated from a beer filled evening out, whilst having a few beers someone very drunk started chatting to us saying they liked beards, do you like our beards we said, the reply was nice beard nice beard nice beard and then that’s a weird beard, it mafe us laugh so much that the name kinda stuck.
And why not with a story like that, its certainly memorable! Who have you worked with so far, tell us a bit about your back catalogue?
Dai: Since putting out our first LP in 2017 we’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazingly creative and generally wonderful people. Our discography as of December 2020 looks like this:
- Vert:X – From Now To Now – 2017
- The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Cosmic Curios – 2017
- Mildred Maude – CPA I-III – 2018
- Black Tempest – Psyberspace – 2018
- Tabby Sensibilities – B&W&Tabs – 2018
- Vert:X – Death To False Motorik – 2019
- Earthling Society – Sci-Fi Hi-Fi – 2019
- Moon Ra – S/T – 2019
- Lastryko – Tetno Pulsu – 2020
- Mugstar / Damo Suzuki – Live at Invisible Wind Factory – 2020
- KORB – II – 2020
- Moths & Locusts – Exoplanets – 2020
- Aquarius Lux – The Infinite Korridor – 2020
This year also saw us start the Weird Beard Tapes, a short run cassette series (strictly limited to 50 copies of each) that, due to the quick turnaround involved, enables us to keep releasing music whilst waiting for LP’s to get pressed.
- Excellent Skeleton – S/T
- Adama – Ganga
- Kombynat Robotron -Kernzeitverletzung
- Krautwerk – Neuling
- Psychic Lemon – Studio Jams Vol I&II
- Black Tempel Pyramid – Prism Of The Present
- Smote – S/T
We were also very pleased to work with Sterling Roswell a couple of months back on a lathe cut 7″ that sold out in around 10 minutes. I think the release that we are proudest of though is the Carlton Melton CD (Live At The Golden Lion, Todmorden 2015) that we produced as part of the Psych Lovers Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising initiative. That release alone managed to raise over £1000 for the charity.
We (along with Andy Uzzell and Ian McGlynn) have also been heavily involved in curating the massive Psych Against Cancer benefit compilations that have come out in the last two years. Along with money raised by auctions of original artwork and other rarities, Volume I & II have raised over £13,000 for Macmillan and this is something that we plan to keep going in the future. If you haven’t seen these compilations, then I recommend you head over to https://psychlovers.bandcamp.com and check them out. The amount of music that you get for your money is truly staggering and all money raised goes direct to Macmillan.
If you’d like to check out some of the things we’ve put out, there’s also a ‘Pay What You Want’ label sampler available on our Bandcamp page
Wow, that’s impressive in such a short space of time, and I know I’m not alone in saying how admirable the Psych Against Cancer initiative has been, really amazing! Can you tell us a bit about what releases you have lined up then?
Dai: 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for us. First up is something that I’m really excited about; an album project by Seattle based sound and image guerrillas Beauty Hunters. For those unaware, Beauty Hunters is the analogue synth side project of Mudhoney’s Guy Maddison also featuring Sean Hollowell (Steel Wool) and Curt Buchberger (Solid Statesmen). Think along the lines of a kosmiche, post punk, John Carpenter soundtrack from the best science fiction film you’ve never seen, and you may just be getting close!
After that we’ve got an LP from Newcastle based multi-instrumentalist Daniel Foggin under his Smote moniker. The cassette release of his first two EP’s was very well received, and we were inundated with calls for something more from this exceptionally talented musician so we duly obliged. Taking the template provided by Trad Gras och Stenar, Parson Sound and other similar artists, Smote provide a contemporary allegory and push even deeper into your psyche.
We also have LP’s planned by JuJu (Gioele Valenti, formerly of Lay Llamas), a second vinyl appearance for Black Tempest on the back of his collaborative offering with Dead Sea Apes & Adam Stone and a second volume of our Tape Series. So, as you can see, things are always busy behind the scenes!
As a new(ish) label, we originally looked to focus our attention towards artists / groups that were looking for their first release on physical media. As time has gone on we do tend to get sent a lot more demos but the majority of work securing new releases is still done by Al & myself just approaching artists that we would like to work with and feel are deserving of a wider audience.
Do you have a vision for where you want the label to go?
Dai: For me, I’m more than happy with the way things are going at the moment. Weird Beard isn’t a business and it never will be, it’s a passion for sharing new music that probably wouldn’t otherwise make its way onto physical media. We haven’t got loads of capital to throw around and in true DIY fashion rely on each release funding the next. As long as bands keep making music, people keep buying the records and it stays fun, we’ll keep going!
Al: I agree with Dai its definitely not a business and we enjoy the fact that we can run with what we like and offer a range of formats , its also very cool meeting people from around the world and getting a buzz from what we do.