B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Liz Beebe: A bumblebee. I have always been drawn to and fascinated by bees – they’re very hard working, which resonates with me and also my last name is Beebe so I feel a bit of a kinship with them.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Beebe: Personally, music is a large part of my emotional-release tool box. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. There’s a connection that happens with music, both between us and the audience and also between us on stage. I consider myself a “live” performer in that I prefer performing in front of people. I want to share what I’m feeling with them and receive what they feel from our creation. Singing in the studio is great because we can control what we put out, but performing live is the end goal.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show?
Beebe: We come into a show with an idea of what set we want to play. However, we really try to adapt to what we’re receiving from the audience so on the fly we may decide to change it up.
We want to bring the energy that people expect when they come to a Dustbowl show and let them kick up their heels. Since “dance party” is not all we do, we want to work in those emotionally charged numbers as well and really give the crowd what has been resonating with us musically, as well. The balance of that ebb and flow makes the best sets for us.
B&L: Let’s talk about your upcoming self-titled record (due out in June). What sort of goals did you have for yourself when you set out to make this record? What excites you about introducing it to the world?
Beebe: My goal for this album was to add some more emotional depth to my vocals than had been seen on our previous album. The songs on this record were lyrically written by Zach and one by myself. However, the arrangement of this album was entirely collaborative between the 8 of us and our producer Ted Hutt. This process is different from how our previous releases came about. The past four years have seen us on the road as this group of 8 whereas prior years in Dustbowl had been more of a rotating cast of characters. The solidification of this group really opened up the possibility to create music influenced by each of our life experiences and has made for some exciting and new (but still “us”) sounds.
B&L: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, or do you schedule “office hours”?
Beebe: I try to do a little of each. Now that I’m flexing my own songwriting muscles in the band (I wrote the second track on our new release, If You Could See Me Now) I’m spending more time on that, than I have in the past. I am often a lyrics first, melody later writer, though sometimes the magic happens and a song just lands in your lap and you try to make a voice memo as quickly as possible!
Usually I’m struck with an idea and will work via instinct and emotion to release what I’m feeling. Later on I’ll revisit the song and re-work the lyrics until it feels right. That can happen up to the end. Once there’s a melody and I’ve sung it a bunch, the specific lyrics may change even if the tone and theme remain the same.
B&L: I gotta ask, what does Dick Van Dyke add to this band? How’d y’all meet up?
Zach Lupetin: We met him by chance at an event in LA – he came dancing up to us in a silver suit and kind of kept following us ever since. We emailed his wife on a whim to see if they wanted to be involved in a little music video idea and they invited us to their house in Malibu.
B&L: What are you looking for folks to take away from the music of Dustbowl Revival when they place themselves in a position to experience it?
Lupetin: I think folk music especially is about telling stories that can bring people together. Our music spans a lot of eras so I like to say our shows are rare in that parents and kids can get down and have a great time and not feel weird about it.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Lupetin: Nathaniel Rateliff’s “SOB” has everything I love in a tune – infectious, visceral – and not afraid to say what most of us won’t.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Word Barn on May 7th?
Lupetin: It’s a cozy place so it will be awesome to try out our favorite folky sing-alongs along with the sweet funky dance songs we’ve been working on.
B&L: Is traveling difficult as an 8-piece band?
Lupetin: We do have a lot of overhead. But it’s worth it to bring the powerful sound we are after. We’ve gone to the two minivan approach in the last year or so which has made things a bit more comfy.
B&L: Who all is in charge of the soundtrack in the van? What’s it sound like?
Lupetin: Depends which van you’re in! Our van tends to rock out to NPR or I’ll put on a cool Spotify playlist or station. Local independent radio can still be magical.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Lupetin: The cinnamon mini donuts from Zelda’s in Venice beach!
Dustbowl Revival will attempt to squeeze themselves on to the stage at the Word Barn on Sunday, May 7th. They won’t fit. But it’ll be a valiant (and fun) effort. More information can be found here.