Sunday, April 26, 2015

Behind The Tap Presents Frank Turner

(Photo taken from

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For over a year, we've been enjoying the music of Frank Turner. If you haven't heard his music, you seriously have no idea what you're missing out on. He's sold out Wembley, opened the London Olympics, toured endlessly (1660+ shows at the time of this posting) and is working on his 6th solo album (being released this Summer, no official date yet, although he's at Abbey Road Studio wrapping it up). We had the opportunity of seeing him last year at Nelsonville Music Festival (show number 1572), one of the greatest shows we've seen, both in the performance energy and also keeping the audience entertained between songs with musings.We'll be seeing him again in Louisville, KY on May 15th. We have our tickets, you should get yours.

We contacted Frank recently to do an email interview. The following is what transpired from the emails.

BTT: You've toured endlessly worldwide, you seem to enjoy different brews. Do you have a favorite style? Follow up, do you have a go-to beer you prefer?
FT: I like drinking light, Pilsner-style beers for the most part, something that isn't too heavy or too alcoholic, so I can keep drinking it for a fair amount of time without getting wasted! I drink a fair few light beers on the road in the USA, which might not be very hip, but choice can be limited in venues across the world.
BTT: Scenario: You have a moment to relax at home, what beer would be found in your fridge?
FT: Right now I have Becks in bottles. As I get older I can't abide cans any more. I like European lagers.

BTT: You did a collaboration beer with Signature back in 2012. Could you tell us a little more about that experience? Have you done any other brewing since then? FT: That's my one and only brewing experience. It was fun. I can't say I know that much about brewing, but the Signature guys guided me through it and did a great job, we ended up with a tasty and unique brew at the end of it.
BTT: What was the final product like (it was wasn't readily available here in the States)? Also, do you know if it's still available?
FT: They aren't making it any more alas, and getting it to the States was a nightmare, thanks to customs laws. It was a light wheat beer with a very subtle citron twist on it.

BTT: We caught your show at the Nelsonville Music Festival last year. With the umpteen billion things (writing/recording/touring constantly) you constantly have going on, how do you find the drive to put on such high-energy shows constantly?FT: Show are the only thing I care passionately about. Everything else would fall by the wayside first, in terms of keeping the energy up!

BTT:When you're touring, do you try to drink locally made beers or just what's readily available to you?FT: Whatever's readily available. My schedule is such that I don't really have time to be picky. We have a rider that gets sent out, but often it's just whatever the venue has handy.
BTT: What exactly is on your rider? Anything weird (like Van Halen's rider having all the brown M&Ms removed from the bowl)?
FT:My rider is very long, I'm not going to list the whole thing, it includes all the staging and technical specs for my shows as well! I don't believe in asking for spurious shit, the people working backstage work hard for low pay as it is. The Van Halen thing was a serious one though, they were checking to see that all the specs had been read. 

BTT: What is your honest take on the American piss lager (examples- Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Busch)? FT: I actually have a soft spot for it.

BTT: You mentioned in cider in your song "Recovery." What is your take on ciders? Do you have a favorite? Follow up, we do food, music, and cheese pairings with the beers we review. How do smelling salts pair with cider?FT: I'm not a cider fan actually - I drank so much of it as a teenager that it is now irrevocably associated with the taste of vomit for me, haha. I guess the line in the song is referring to that time in the party (or "smelling salts" session) when you'll drink anything. I wouldn't recommend that kind of lifestyle.

BTT: We have paired numerous songs of yours with various beers. Do you have any beer-and-music pairings you favor? FT: I can't say I think about things like that to be honest.

BTT: Nathan: I play guitar as well. What is your preferred acoustic and why?FT: I play Gibson Hummingbirds live these days. They're fantastic guitars. There are other, more niche or bespoke instruments which can be fun to play in the studio, but for live, the Hummingbird is a total workhorse. It plays and sounds great, and it can take the abuse I throw at it, which is important. 

BTT: After listening to the Amy Trilogy (especially "Tell Tale Signs") would you ever date a girl named Amy? FT: Yes. "Amy" is a pseudonym.

BTT: Jennie is going to go all Jewish mom on you for a moment. Any nice, long-term prospects on the horizon? You seem like a nice guy. You deserve a good girl. And if there are no prospects, can we set you up? We know some lovely single ladies. (If not, I'll at least make you some chicken noodle soup.)FT: Hahaha. I am seeing someone at the moment actually. Early days but we shall see.

BTT: You have a very loyal US following, although we are small. Why the fuck aren't you more popular here? FT: You tell me.

BTT: For fuck's sake, you have sold out Wembley Stadium and opened the 2012 Olympics. You have accomplished what many dream. What is your favorite career accomplishment? FT: The fact that I don't have to have a regular day job between tours. That was the dream when I was a kid and it still is.

BTT: Jennie: My favorite song of yours is "Plain Sailing Weather" (although I had "I Still Believe" stuck in my head when your email came through this morning. I went to Albion College in Michigan, "Sweet Albion Blues" was an instant contender). Nathan's favorite is one of three, either "Tell Tale Signs," "Wanderlust," or "I Am Disappeared". What is your favorite song of ours?FT: My favourite song of yours? Uh.. definitely "Don't Stop Believing".

BTT: Do you have a favorite song to play live (does not need to be yours)? FT: I like songs that help deconstruct the barrier between performer and audience. That's a fancy way of saying I like songs that get people moving or singing along, or participating in the show in any other way.

BTT: How often do your fans complain of rug burn from dancing along to "Four Simple Words"? (Nathan had that issue once during a dancing incident while brewing beer.)FT: That'd be the first I've heard of directly...

BTT: How did you figure out the musical formula to perfectly blend punk and folk?FT: I don't write music to formulas.
BTT: No, seriously. There has to be something you go off. You have catchy verses and choruses with deep lyrics, then the bridge changes the tone of the song. Is this a standard you go by or is it just what feels right as you're writing it? 
FT: Really, I just write music that sounds good to me. That's it. 
BTT: After listening to some Million Dead (for readers, Million Dead was the band Frank was in before going solo), how did you not kill your voice with the screaming? Compliments on your vocal range, by the way. Any tips for the wannabe screamers of the musical world? FT: Thank you. Actually, contrary to popular belief, screaming is just another form of vocal technique, if done properly. It's not that technically different from singing a long, hard high note. If you look after yourself it's totally doable.

BTT: What is your take on the Oxford comma? Favor, favorite, color, etc., without the U? (Fucking Americans.)FT: The American spellings are actually historically correct; Franklin, Jefferson et al regarded themselves as true Englishmen fighting against a foreign king, and as a sideline, were total sticklers for accuracy in their spellings. The addition of the "u" was a French-influenced fad after the War Of Independence. So you guys win this round. As for the Oxford Comma, well, I have better, more interesting, things to think about.

BTT: Do you have plans on touring the Midwest anytime soon? 
FT: Yep, more US tour dates coming soon, and plenty of them.

BTT: Care to grab at least a pint next time you are in Columbus, Ohio? Or a brewery tour? It'll be a smashing time. FT: It would depend entirely on my schedule. A lot of people seem to think that the only thing I do on the road is play for 2 hours a night. Which is fucking *hilarious*.         

BTT: What is the most personal song you've written?
FT: Most personal song... Quite a lot of Tape Deck Heart wins that prize. I was trying to get deeper and more intimate for that album. I was listening to a lot of Arab Strap at the time. I think "Tell Tale Signs" takes the prize, probably.

BTT: We do a lot with cheese pairings, as previously mentioned. What is your favorite cheese?
FT: I love cheese. A great Spanish Manchego takes a lot of beating.

BTT: You recently released a video for your song "Get Better." We love how the video is a journey through your career. Is this song going to be the general tone of your upcoming album? Does the album have a  name yet?
FT: That song is something of an overture for the new record, yes. Stylistically, sonically, lyrically that's kind of where I'm going. I do have a title but I'm not announcing it yet.     

It was a blast being in contact with him, although I think we freaked him out with some of the questions (he's since blocked my calls and emails and sent me a restraining order, we'll see who has the last laugh in Louisville. Joking of course). We want to thank him once again for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. 

His latest compilation of B-sides and rarities ("The Third Three Years") was recently released here in the States. We reccomend it. Frank's cover of "Somebody to Love" rivals the original by Queen and the live versions of "Plain Sailing Weather" and "Tell Tale Signs" give a different take on already stellar songs. His road diary  ("The Road Beneath My Feet") is a best seller in the UK. It hasn't been released in the States, but you can find it through online sellers.

Look for his new album this summer. Here's a teaser to tide you over:

And if you're able to make it to Louisville on May 15th, shoot us a message. We'll meet up and enjoy a beer together.

-Jennie and Nathan-  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bell's Mercury: The Winged Messenger

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First world problems: there is currently more craft and homebrewed beer in our refrigerator than food. That is a good problem to have. I didn't realize how far behind we were in the Planets series from Bell's until tonight. Oops. This is a sessionable Belgian single (read: Belgian pale ale) that has apparently been lurking in a back corner of the fridge, hiding behind some forgettable condiment and Jupiter (the Saturn is completely out of place on the other side of the shelf). Yes, mock me if you will, I like some organization in my fridge and most of the rest of my life. Again, first world problems. 

There is a lot of lore that goes along with Mercury. Often followed by "retrograde", this is the biggie. No one really cares when Mercury is direct, or when other planets are in retrograde. But whoa, Mercury retrograde is something to be feared, some vague reason to stop living life as you know it and hibernate until the retrograde is over. Cough cough bullshit. Mercury is, as stated on the label and throughout Roman mythology, the guy in charge of communications and usually makes them happen fast, hence the wings on his sandals in most depictions. Mercury-the-planet is also associated with communication, and when it goes into retrograde, yep, you guessed it, many issues with communication arise. Choose your words carefully, and you will be just fine during a Mercury retrograde. Anyway, don't we have a beer to be drinking? 
This pours a beautiful translucent straw color with a smallish white head. The aroma is faint yet distinctly Belgian, with all of the phenols and esters in the nose to tempt you. Notes of clove, peppercorn, lemon, and banana waft past my nose. It drinks much like it smells, with a bonus of bubblegum and stronger banana in the flavor, and there is a nice cracker-y note that finishes the sip. It's light in body, medium in carbonation, effervescent as one would expect a Belgian-style beer to drink. At 4.8% ABV, it's eminently quaffable, at least as long as you like Belgian-style beers. This was released in December, we had it in January, and it has held up quite fine in the refrigerator until now. 
Overall, it's a solid, yet somehow fairly unremarkable for a Belgian. I'm not always the biggest fan of Belgians, particularly not the lighter banana/clove/bubblegum bombs. This isn't that, though. It's more like a Belgian that decided to play it safe and move to Switzerland. 
4/5 caps
As I fuck with these ear buds, I would like to remind people that our next post is something special. Our next post will be our 300th post, and we have something near and dear to us lined up.
This pours a straw color, as mentioned previously, with bit of white head that lingers around while I continuously fuck with these ear buds... I'm done with ear buds... I'm going back to the normal ass headphones, that give better, less tinny sounds. How am I to rock out to something that changes sounds every time I move my head? Fuck off ear buds...
Back to the beer. The color has been talked about, onto the aroma. Faint aroma, typical Belgian notes blend with a light sweetness from the malt. This is one of the smoothest drinking Belgians I've had. The esters play off each other nicely in a harmonious choir that's blending well with the prog rock somehow. This dances on the taste buds in 5/4, 7/8 and 17/16 time at 144 bpm, ever changing with each sip. some sips give off more bubblegum and clove while others give off banana. The only thing constant on this is the nice dry finish and the smooth drinkability. 
I can't really say more about this beer aside it was liked by people who normally shy away from Belgians. That's a hell of a compliment. 
4/5 caps
Food pairing: Mussels in a beer-butter-garlic sauce
Cheese pairing: A nice, nutty Gruyere
Music pairing:  "Mercury: The Winged Messenger" by Gustav Holst  or "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree if you're not into classical