Interview: Laurent Shervington, Interviewee: Drew Krapljanov
Photo credit: Jordan Piggott
Perth instrumental rock band Ryan Beno’s name has been thrown around a lot recently, thanks to the release of the tracks ‘Saline’ and ‘Anna Karenin’ from the their EP Full Moon Thai. The songs have made some impressive best of lists, testament to the originality of the compositions and the band’s mesmerising live show.
Catching up with Drew (guitar/bass) from the band, I wanted to get to the bottom of some questions about the mysterious band – regarding their ethos, recording process and where the band sits spatially (both musical and non).
Going into our talk I was aware that Drew’s early method of songwriting for Beno focused a lot on creating moments of quiet, with strong minimalistic influences. Drew describes the embryonic period as such: “I had the idea initially from listening to a lot of breathtaking music at the time, stuff like Talk Talk and Tortoise. These bands really changed my idea of what rock music could be, as well as showed me that taking elements from jazz can result in some really interesting music.”Drew describes the early ethos from the band as “very clean” and “primitively expressionistic,” placing importance on the having a cohesive understanding of minimalism.
While maybe not the most obvious influence, Drew spoke about the influence of 80s post-punk on the band. “It’s funny, a lot of post-punk is very jagged and rigid – almost the opposite of jazz.” In relation to the group’s jazz stylings, the moments of tension from post-punk add a kind of space at times, yet drive a lot of the more intense songs.
Beno recorded the entire Full Moon Thai EP live with Michael Jelinek (aka Jelly Sound) in September of 2016, aiming to “de-mystify the process of a band going in and making a recording,” another example of their minimalist approach to music.
However, the band is more than it’s cerebral parts, as Drew describes Beno as playing “not very serious music, but it can touch you in a way that is not particularly positive or happy – it’s playful for the most part.” Such a playful approach goes further into how the band named themselves and the EP: “It was originally the fake name, we had a huge list of more serious band names we were going to call ourselves. It works because it’s authentic to us, it’s funny.” Talking a little more about the naming process of the EP Full Moon Thai, Drew told me about the restaurant which shared a name with the release, describing it as a “really overwhelming place, sort of otherworldly – kitsch but beautiful!” The band visits the restaurant frequently, so the naming of the release made sense to symbolise a place in which they all loved and spent many times bonding as a band.
The band considers a lot in their live performance too, you’ll see a centre-stage glowing lightbulb and looks of amusement and jubilation between band members, all of which complement the exceptionally well put together sonic elements. We talked a bit about music in different contexts, Drew coming back to the idea that “music changes a lot in different contexts” and that as a band they wanted “to create a platform for audience members to create their own experience with the band, based on [their] surroundings.”
However, placing Beno in a tangible place or time is a difficult thing, Drew found it weird to think people would dance to the music, let alone do anything at all to it. We came to the conclusion that Beno is perfect music to cycle to, so long as the mechanised contraption maintains the foundational principles of minimalism. Looking forward for Ryan Beno, I was told the band have another EP in the works, one focused more on melody and repetition, placing sections in opposition, then allowing both parts to morph into one another.
Ryan Beno is a one-of-a-kind-of-band, their approach to music captures you in a way that mesmerises and astounds you. That aside, they’ve got to be the nicest band in Perth.
Catch Beno tonight at the Bird, playing with King Kodo, Telete, Lana Rothnie and Felicity Groom. Tickets are $5 on the door.