Port of call

Beirut Beirut

Beirut Performs at Bogart’s in Cincinnati for new album, The Rip Tide

By Kyle Melton



Upon the release of his debut album Gulag Orkestar in 2006, Zach Condon of Beirut quickly took the indie world by storm with an eclectic mix of European folk, classical and pop song structures. The band recently returned with a new album, The Rip Tide, released on its own Pompeii Records, and is heading out on a U.S. tour this fall in support of the disc. We recently spoke with Beirut’s bassist Paul Collins about The Rip Tide, the band’s preparations for the tour, and how all these compositions come together.

What has been the response to the new album, The Rip Tide? How do you and the band feel about the results? How do you feel it compares/relates to previous releases? How does it feel to play the new material live?
The response has been very positive. Our shows have been spirited and fresh. The fans seem to be enjoying themselves.  The New York crowds have even gone so far as to dance at the shows. The Rip Tide is a first for us. Normall Zach is more on his own when he records. This is really the first time a Beirut record has been conceived with the live band sound in mind. It was far more a group effort than the other records. [Paul Collins]

On this current tour, the band will travel throughout the U.S. over the next 6 weeks, then to Australia and Japan right after Christmas. How do you prepare for such a grueling schedule? Is this a group that is built for live shows and extended touring? Are there plans to tour more in the New Year?
You prepare for tour by practicing, and spending time with your loved ones. Once tour begins, both of those things take a back seat as you are thrown into the vortex. We are most definitely built for touring. Although we had a few missteps in the beginning, we have gotten much better at the touring life. Also, now we have lights. It feels more like a show than ever. Right now we don’t have much planned past our shows in Japan.  You will hear from us I am sure, but we will be taking a break for at least a couple of months. [PC]

With the current lineup, how do compositions come together? Is there a collaborative element in the arrangements or does Zach largely come to the group with everything in place?
It is always different song to song. “Port of Call” was a mere ukulele chord progression, when brought into the studio.  The band dove into it head first, and after two days, we had what you hear on the record. “A Candle’s Fire” on the other hand, was practically a completed demo when we heard it. Zach liked the old version so much that he considered using it on the record.  Hopefully everyone can here some of those demo’s one of these days. [PC]

Having earned exceptional acclaim over the course of the past few years, how does the group feel about its development over that time? What other musical areas do you feel are still left to explore in terms of stylistics and composition? Do you feel any limitations from the nature of this type of ensemble?
Unfortunately, this is more of a question for Zach. But I will say this … The Rip Tide, to me, feels like the tip of the iceberg.  It was our first time in the studio as a six piece (plus Griffin Rodriguez, our invaluable producer and guru).  We were hashing out vocal melodies, horn parts, and grooves as a group.  Ideas were fully explored, and often completely thrown out.  By the end of the sessions, it really seemed as though we had hit a stride, which I look forward to continuing to explore. It felt so explosive to me when I heard “Port of Call” play after an energetic day in the studio.  In short, the sky is the limit, and Zach has found his voice. [PC]

What can people expect from the current tour? How much older material will be found in the set? To what degree is the band changing things up from night to night?
We have a few songs from the new record that we play every night.  Other than that, we like to stick to the “hits.” [PC]


Beirut will perform on Friday, November 11 at Bogarts, 2621 Vine St. in Cincinnati. Tickets are $25 for 18 & up. For more information, visit beirutband.com.

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