This month, the Fingertips Q&A is handed over to Buried Beds, the Philadelphia-based quintet recently featured here for the song “Breadcrumb Trail,” from their new album, Tremble the Sails. The Beds are no stranger around these parts, having been previously picked out for the lovely song “Camellia” in 2006—a song that, additionally, gave them a spot on the late, great Fingertips compilation disc Fingertips: Unwebbed. Answering the questions on behalf of the band is Brandon Beaver (below right, in red plaid), who along with Eliza Jones is the group’s co-founder.
Q: Let’s begin by cutting right to the chase. Should MP3s be free across the board? Why or why not?
A: I think here the road can get a little treacherous. In a lot of ways, free MP3s across the board could potentially mean you’re getting your music into a lot more hands than you would alternatively. For us, it’s a little too early to tell if our “free/donation” download of Tremble the Sails has been beneficial or not. It would be great if money flowed the right way in every case and artists never had to worry about the expense of doing what they do, but that’s not really a debate. Realistically, we have to adapt to the ever-evolving music world and for us it made sense to have people easily access the music we make. But I think even within those confines, you can find ways to appeal to those who will pay for your art. For example, we sell hand-sewn “deluxe” CDs of the new record that are only obtainable through the website for a small fee. People generally want to support bands and spread the music they like to those we might not be able to reach and for a band as small as us, thats an okay infrastructure! I do, however, understand that as you become more known, touring often becomes a more viable source of income and that opens up a whole new subset of issues!
Q: There’s a lot of talk these days that says that music in the near future will exist in the so-called “cloud,” and that music fans will not need to own the music they like any longer, since they will be able to simply listen to everything on demand when they want to. This may actually involve people paying for the service, but not for the specific music being listened to. How do you feel about this?
A: What better than the image of a giant, billowing cloud that continuously plays the music you want to hear! I actually don’t know much about this concept—sounds a bit like that Pandora radio thing, no? I think there will never be a time where people can’t own their music in some capacity. I still listen to LPs as my main source of music and I think being able to hold the record is a huge part of my affection for it. A “cloud” idea does seem like you potentially are taking the opposite extreme. I don’t really know enough about it to say, honestly. I could see a slight benefit of it (maybe) if this said “cloud” could generate suggestions of other lesser-known music that the listener might be into. Hard to say though; we’ll just have to see what happens when the storm arrives…
Q: How has your life as a musician been affected—or not—by the existence of music blogs?
A: We love music blogs! We just recently had our CD release and sent info out to a handful of music blogs that we liked. Most of them posted the show link and/or wrote a blurb about the band which was so great! I think it’s amazing that people can freely voice their likes/dislikes on music blogs and draw some real attention to artists without some huge corporate backing. I think a lot of people go to these music blogs as a real resource not just for happenings around town or new band info, but to be a part of a music community where you’re connected to other people who want to share art they like. Again, we aren’t a huge band so any help to get our name out there is super great and music blogs are a big part of that.
Q: What are your thoughts about the album as a musical entity—does it still strike you as a legitimate means of expression? If listeners are cherry-picking and shuffling rather than listening all the way through, how does that affect you as a musician?
A: This is a topic where I do see an unfortunate side effect of the ever-changing digital “cloud” world. As I said before, I’m a big record collector, and I cherish my albums. It adds so much to be able to hold a record and see all this great artwork and detail that the band went into to bring that music to you. In that collection of records, I have a lot of conceptual albums and albums that I love because of little things like how one song leads into another. Or how there’s this great break of silence before you hear the one song you’ve been waiting for. These things may seem somewhat trite, but to me they really are what distinguishes why albums are important. Buried Beds doesn’t write to produce huge chart-topping singles, we’ll leave that up to the John Mayers or whatever. We are strong believers in the idea of the album and always write and edit ourselves with that in mind. We don’t mind if people ultimately cherry-pick from our album—we just want to do our best to have people really want to chop the whole tree down!
Q: What is your personal preferred way of listening to music at this point?
A: Again, for me it’s records. I have an iPod but I only use it in the car. Some of us are way more in touch with the digital world (which is why it’s sort of ironic that I’m the one answering these questions!). I know most of us are of the album appreciation ilk. I don’t think any of us have ever been like, “Hey, check out this new iTunes single by *fill in the blank*!” I listen to music wherever and whenever. I think Eliza is more of the play music wherever and whenever type! As for the rest of the gang, I think they’re the same more or less. One of the greatest qualities in the band is everybody’s willingness to turn other band mates onto great music. No cherry picking allowed though—unless it’s a Phil Collins record!