Interview with Reasons BE: “Striking the right balance of quipped lyrics, sunny California guitar strumming, and down-to-earth personalities…”
[Keep reading for full interview.]
[Story and photos by Brian Lee]
If there was ever a live show that felt like a celebration of music rather than a band just trying to earn their paycheck, the Reasons BE show at Molly Malone’s was that show. With the lounge and front stage packed like sardines, there was a feeling of anticipation reverberating from the audience to see if the raw talent and vocal exuberance captured in their song “Hands Up” would translate to the stage, and they didn’t disappoint.
Singing songs about love and personal struggles, this two piece band oozes sincerity and a whirlwind of joy even when they were performing sad songs. Striking the right balance of quipped lyrics, sunny California guitar strumming, and down-to-earth personalities, I found Scotty and Ariel’s onstage dynamic quite unflappable. Sure, humor snuck its way into their set and we chuckled. But, given their incredible work ethic, tight craftsmanship and alluring vocals, there’s no need to entertain the crowd between songs. Deep down inside, I think they knew they had a chance to razzle-dazzle the crowd in the most amazing ways and the crowd obliged. Judging from how the crowd gave the lengthy applause and standing ovation, I knew everyone was heading home to listen to Hands Up EP to recapture the incredible energy and beautiful harmony Reasons BE presented that night.
After the show, I was able to meet the guys by the bar to ask a few questions about their upcoming EP and the creative process:
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the makeup of your band? Describe how you guys contribute? Heard you guys met via Craiglist.
Ariel: He was having auditions for his old band.
Scotty: I was in several bands in Midwest. I moved to California for a better music career. I was auditioning for guitarist. Literally, Ariel was the first person we auditioned. Our manager, Sean Ryan, was telling me about the audition and he said “Ariel is extremely talented”. Me and Sean looked at each other in the eye and said, “Don’t let him know that”. Literally we made our first song that day and it’s a no-brainer. I told Sean to cancel all the other auditions.
Ariel: From my point of view, they told me to jam something and as I jammed, Scotty started singing on the spot & it was good. He was writing on the fly and it was good. I told myself, “Wow, he made it looked easy”. From that point on, the writing and singing became such an easy, natural process.
Q. When did you guys meet?
Ariel: A little over a year ago.
Q. The dynamic onstage felt like you guys have known each other your entire life.
Ariel: We did acoustic shows prior to going to the studio. I guess we’re familiar with each other. Today’s our first show as a full band.
Scotty: We’re not as nice to each other (chuckles). We argue, we fight.
Ariel: We’re like best friend/brothers, we get on each other’s bad side.
Q. This is a question for Ariel. You got serious into music as a means of catharsis due to your mother’s sudden passing (truly sorry to hear that). So tell me how has creating music helped you thus far? If you have to put into perspective, describe where you are today vs. when you first started.
Ariel: In High School, I felt the need to express myself emotionally and I picked up a guitar. I had background in classical music and played the flute. One of the first songs I wrote was about my mother. Then I embarked this journey as a musician. It took some time as I was in Israel and had to go through military service. What happened was I came up to California and I have all these stuff/ demons in my closet. I started doing my own thing. But then I found Scotty, it became…easy. Up to that point, there was a lot of hard work and I’ve developed myself…but I wasn’t comfortable yet. Again, when I met Scotty, it became…easy.
Scotty: We definitely helped each other with our weaknesses. We make each other stronger.
Q. This is a question for Scotty. You had a band that found some success in the past. My question is how do you stay motivated when you’ve tasted success? How do you measure success for this EP?
Scotty: Success comes from getting some cool perks. It’s not about living that dream, it’s about doing something I love. Same thing with Ariel. I definitely believe we’ve been fortunate enough to work with producer Lee Miles. He’s helped us a lot and got us into a place where we have a very solid EP plus performing a nice size crowd. The response has been really well and people in the music industry are responding better than any project I’ve ever done.
Ariel: Any project! I’d say the same thing. Been here for 6 years. Started my own stuff and other projects. And I’ve been blown away with the responses. This is the best project I’ve ever been a part of.
Q. So you guys have been performing quite a bit?
Ariel: Yes, I’ve probably gotten into 40 shows with my projects.
Scotty: It’s weird to hear from people that your music is unique and I think that’s the best compliment.
Ariel: When we work/ write, we have very high level of perfectionism. So if it’s not in our opinion “perfect”, we’re going to keep working on it.
Q. What sort of guidance did Lee Miles provide in the studio? Say you have lyrics and basic instrumentation done and you played it in front of him. What’s the next step?
Ariel: Lee is also a perfectionist. So when we bring our material, he’ll choose the best songs.
Scotty: He knows what he wants, he’s patient with you, and we’re very comfortable with him. He’s damn good at what he does. He gets the best out of you. You won’t be in the studio feeling pressured. You’re in the studio being confident and felt if you’re doing a good job, Lee’s going to make it sound good for everybody else.
Ariel: I thought it was a bit of a scary process because drums came first. Lee was ripping into the drummer (Luis) to get the perfect taste. Me and Scotty looked at each other and thought, “Oh Gosh, we’re next.”
Lee: But to Luis’ defense, I was giving him on the spot changes. Just like I do it with Ariel and Scotty. They’d learn something on their own and in the studio everything changes. At that moment, you have to make crucial decisions about the record. In Luis’ defense, he has a lot of talent to take such bizarre changes. He did a very professional job.
Scotty: You write these songs and you rehearsed/ performed them so many times. You thought they were good. But what I’ve learned from this project is that the more opinions, the better. I don’t want to think I’m this brilliant musical mind. If somebody comes in and brings something to the table, I’m going to put my trust in them.
Q. You mentioned on your Facebook page Simon & Garfunkel as one of your main influences. Any other contemporary artists you admire? Name me 3 records that pop into your heads as your all-time favorites (each of you).
Scotty: Dave Matthews Band.
Ariel: Dave Matthews Band – Crash, Jason Mraz – We sing, We dance, We steal things.
Scotty: Love Jack Johnson too. Maybe some Train.
Ariel: As far as my favorite electric guitar player, I like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Q. Your song “Hands Up” is a very upbeat song with very clever lyrics. It has the right balance of catchy melody, guitar strumming and some reggae beat. It sounds very intimate too. My question is: How do you find the right balance of intimacy and lyrical wordiness? My argument is that being too intimate and lyrically wordy might not reach out as universal as how you’d expect it to be.
Ariel: Lyrically, Scotty writes 90% of the lyrics and he’s really good.
Scotty: Thanks buddy!
Ariel: I don’t think he’s a singer. He’s a poet. I couldn’t imagine creating the musical blueprints that he did.
Ariel: In general, it has to do with Lee Miles. Things change in the studio all the time. Scotty and I work with dynamics. We wanted to create movements within the song. We do listen to our lyrics.
Scotty: It has to be done right. I am able to come up with clever lyrics and sing them to keep it on pace. Ariel will come up with the groove that’d keep it flowing. And as long as people are dancing, that’s what we believe in.
Ariel: And when he brings lyric sheets, we go through it. I’d say this is a problem area. We brainstorm and listen to each other inputs.
Scotty: We also tried to make it none of our songs are too similar with each other. A lot of our songs are very fast pace and has the reggae-feel to it. But a lot of the songs are similar in the lyrical and easier for listeners to subconsciously comprehend them.
Q. Finally, when can we expect a full album? Any upcoming tours your fans can expect?
Ariel: Basically, our plan through Hunter (the publicist), we just started marketing campaign through Lafamos…The goal of it is exposure and raising money eventually. At that point, we want to proceed to second half of the recording and complete the album. After the summer, we are going to start playing gigs. Our next show is slated for early September. Basically, through the marketing campaign, we want to gain exposure, placement, licensing deals, and raise some money so we can get back to Lee Miles and finish the album.
Discover more about Reasons BE.