Beats Antique: Land of a Thousand Faces
In his classic book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell presents his theory of the monomyth—or the archetypical story that has appeared in the written and oral traditions of seemingly unconnected cultures across the world. This monomyth defies space and time, being told in various forms by the ancient peoples of Greece, America, China, India, Africa and everywhere in between. It is the tale of the hero’s journey, the age old legend of the adventurer who leaves the comfort of his home to embark on a quest that ultimately leads to the betterment of mankind.
Campbell’s theory of the monomyth has influenced countless artists since the book was first published in 1949—from musicians like the Grateful Dead and Jim Morrison to filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. Beats Antique can now count themselves among those ranks, and the electro/world fusion trio have taken Campbell’s influence to the next level. Their latest release, A Thousand Faces Act I, is a concept album in the purest sense of the term. The two part record (Act II will be released in the spring) breaks Campbell’s monomyth down to its many parts and distills each of them into a piece of music that stands on its own, while also fitting nicely into the larger story. We caught up with Beat’s Antique’s Tommy Cappel and David Satori to talk to them about the new album, their live production, working with Les Claypool, Burning Man and more.
You guys got Les Claypool to help you out with a track called “Beezlebub,” which appears on your new album, A Thousand Faces Act I. What was the inspiration for the song and what convinced you to get Les on board?
Tommy: What convinced us to not do it? He’s amazing. Incredibly creative and an icon. We thought of him because of the devil and he’s so badass.
David: I feel like he plays the bass like he’s the devil incarnate. He’s Lucifer on the bass and looks like him a little bit. He’s one of the most inspirational artists we grew up listening to. This is a concept album we’ve been wanting to collaborate with Les for years after we went on tour with him in 2010. This was a perfect opportunity to invite him to be part of this concept album and play the devil in our hero’s dream.
Tommy, Les mentioned you once auditioned for the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. Is there a story behind that?
Tommy: Well my best friend and collaborator at the time, I was in a couple bands with him, Eenor had been playing guitar for him and he told me they were looking for a new drummer. And I was like, “Oh well I’ll go and audition.” It was super fun, I got to up to the studio, set up and play some music. I got to actually go back there twice. He told me I could do another one. It was pretty awesome. It’s funny, back at the time I had pigtails which is kind of funny. Les always seems to remember that part that I had pink pigtails.
He did mention that.
Tommy: I think it his favorite thing about me. Or possibly least favorite. Who knows? It was a lot of fun. We had a blast playing together. It was really cool to play with the guy you had been playing with for years along with Les Claypool as our bass player because Eenor and I had always had a hard time finding a bass player to stick with so that was the ultimate, it was like, “Oh man, we got Les now.” It was more kind of like it was our band, it was kind of funny. At the end of day I didn’t get the job, but I got to continue playing with Yard Dogs Road Show who later on Eenor joined that band after his time with Les. We toured the world and did a bunch of crazy stuff and ended up going on tour with Les Claypool’s project at the time. It was all good and fun. We had a blast and got to know Les a little bit. We got to connect a lot of little dots that I felt needed to be connect.
David: It was pretty cool that Tommy opened for Les in two different bands.
Let’s move on to the new album. As you said it’s a concept album and it seems the concept is built around Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces? Can you talk a little about that?
David: We decided to move with that because we wanted a structure to work on with this album. We wanted a narrative and a story. But we didn’t want to be too particular, we wanted to encompass all cultures and everything. I studied Joseph Campbell back in high school and Tommy and Zoe read bits and pieces of him. We were inspired by his overarching idea of the monomyth, which is the one story that is tied in all cultures and all traditions. We took each stage of that journey and wrote a song for it. The beginning, usually called the “Call to Adventure,” we wrote this song that brings up the inspiration and foreshadows the whole journey. Then we have “Meeting the Mentor” that Obi Wan Kenobi moment when you meet your teacher. And then you have going into the underworld. That’s where Les comes up, he’s this devil in the underworld. He’s this trickster character where everything is chaotic and your confused about who you are. And then it comes out the other side. This all part of all our whole album is, we are only releasing “Act 1” right now. We are releasing half of the journey in the fall and then Act 2 is going to come out early spring/summer 2014. And then the whole thing is going to come out together. That’s the gist of it.
The other really exciting news is that we’ve actually been in touch with the Joseph Campbell Foundation and they are really excited about this project. We are in conversations to collaborate on something really exciting. That’s some really exciting news we just found about.
Tommy: One of the cool things about aligning with Joseph Campbell’s work is that we found out that a lot of our friends and people we respect out there are really in line with him and really kind of resonate with his writing and use his work as inspiration in their lives. It’s pretty cool. Personally, I wasn’t too aware of him. I had heard of him. Through doing research on this album trying to figure out exactly what path we were going to take on this, there are so many things you can do. David had brought him up at one point and we were looking at some diagrams that had been written to encapsulate his idea. It was a circle, the shape of CD, a record and it had these perfect amount of little notches on it to make an album. It was this perfect collaboration.
David: It was a map.
Tommy: Yeah it was like a map. It gave us the opportunity to write music. Since then our whole team has been super inspired, the collaborations we’re doing the videos and the production.
David: That’s a huge part of what we’re doing. This whole album came out of doing a concept album, but more than that, let’s do a concept show. We’ve been doing shows for years that have their own valleys and dips to them, but they haven’t had a cohesive story. So we were like ‘let’s do a show that is a story’. And so that’s what we’re doing. We have full projection mapping and interactive video with a brand new set design that is totally interactive with the story and the content goes along with the story. It’s taking the audience through the hero’s journey, but they are the hero and they are going through each world with us.
When you do this new live show, do you plan to perform the album in sequence?
David: Yeah, we are performing the whole show. And then Act 1 is the majority of the first half and then that’s what we’re releasing. But we are going to perform 19 new songs, but we are releasing 10 of them.
Tommy: Yeah, so we are performing the whole thing in sequence of the hero’s journey, but the audience can only get one half of it and then the whole half of it comes out next year.