Interview with Bevel Summers: “We Just Want to Make Good Music”

By Janie Radler ‘17

Isn’t that what we all want? And if not make it, certainly listen and dance to it whenever the opportunity presents itself. This past weekend and days leading up to it were jam-packed with good ol’ wholesome family/alumni fun and non-stop tunage. Good luck finding someone who can deny shaking his or her booty at least once with so much kick-ass music constantly bouncing campus.

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeb (singer, guitarist, songwriter) and Matt (pianist) of Bevel Summers, the band that truly kicked off the excitement with their high-energy beats that had everyone grooving and swaying all night long.

JR: So this your second east coast tour so far, right? How’s it been going so far? Are there any specific memorable moments that really stand out to you guys or any funny stories you’d like to share?

Matthew: It’s been a good time so far. We started in North Carolina. That’s our hometown.

Jeb: Yeah, we had three dates in North Carolina.

Matthew: And then we just shot up to New York. We had this show in Danbury, that’s just like this little tiny country town.

Jeb: There were definitely a fair number of bikers.

Matthew: During the day there was some biker rally thing. It was a really random venue; it was full of people who were like super bikers. We were like yeah it’s great you guys brought your bikes

Jeb and Matthew: And they were like MOTORCYCLES.

Jeb: Other than that, they loved it! They were not really into us calling their rides, “bikes.”

But once you got beyond that, it was great?

Matthew: I mean your bicycles look really good out there! But yeah and then it was a total contrast going up to New York City.

Jeb: We got to play in the Naumburg Band Shell in central park, which is a stone band shell that’s probably been around since the 19th century. It’s a prehistoric space. Like, it’s hosted the Grateful Dead; Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there. So to stand on that stage was a really special point. It was a gig that didn’t pay shit but like it was a lot of fun. And it was just an honor to play on that stage. So this fledgling young festival that the city asked us to play, it was the perfect match. And then we did a show in Brooklyn with Matthew’s twin brother. His brother’s a comedian, so it was improv comedy mixed with music.

What was that like?

Matthew: It was like sketch comedy, there was like improv comedy, all kinds of comedy. And we got to have the improv thing and the music thing. And for a lot of people, they would’ve never gone out to it. Or they would’ve never gone out to a comedy show or they would’ve never gone out to a music show. A lot of people had a good time there.

 Photos of Bevel Summers by Brady Williams

 Photos of Bevel Summers by Brady Williams

Yeah, I’ve never even heard of that. It sounds really cool. So could you tell me a bit more about how you started as a band, where you come from, and how long you’ve been together?

Jeb: Yeah well Bevel Summers started back in 2010. We met at UNC [University of North Carolina] and we wrote a bunch of songs together. We just wrote some miserable songs about these break ups we’d been through. And then we met a couple other guys who started playing shows with us, we recorded an EP, and then everybody graduated.  And it was like the other three guys got full rides to grad school and I had stayed in Chapel Hill. And you know, I kind of gave up on it for a while, compressed the EP to a CD to just have it as a memoir. And started passing it around and then like met Dylan, the bassist, and Alicia came in and that brought Jack and Matthew who trickled in from doing a play and just like rallied musicians.

Matthew: He like took some singer songwriters and just found musicians he could work with and kind of just rallied them together.

Jeb: And I realized Dylan is an incredibly talented musician, Matthew is an incredibly talented musician, everyone is. I’m the worst musician of the band.

But you seem sort of like the leader of the pack.

Jeb: I’m a songwriter. And I mean we’ve just worked our butts off. It’s a great ensemble. This group has been together about a year and a half now. We recorded an album early 2013. It was released in May and since then we’ve done two tours.

What was that like making your first album?   

Jeb: At times it was like wonderful and at times it was like pulling teeth.

Matt: Yeah, when you first enter a studio, everything is under a microscope. You just have to tighten up everything. Cause when you’re live, you can flub a note, it’ll be fine, people will love it. But in the studio everything’s got to be crisp, pristine. But yeah it really puts every musician in their place.  Like this is the way you need to be, but it’s really a productive process and makes you a better musician, I know it’s made me better. And I think we learned together.

Jeb: We learned so much from the studio about playing together. Most of the time you don’t have to do too much. Because if you’re doing too much individually then it messes up the whole process. I think working in the studio really taught us it’s good to simplify.

Matt: It’s great, you go into studio and it’s like let’s take this combination of people and talents and noises together and let’s do that. Let’s put it together. I think the ultimate goal for band is like what is our skill set, where’s each individual’s skill set, how do we achieve the best possible sound with the skill set that we have and make the best music. We all just want to make good music.

Now feeling super bummed you missed such an awesome show? Redeem yourself by heading over to Student Center at 8 p.m. to get taste of Miss Tess and the Talkbacks!