The West Michigander now based in Chicago returns to Grand Rapids tonight (May 13) for a special band show, touring behind his latest album. The artist profile at Local Spins.
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Peering through purple-framed sunglasses, Seth Beck lights a cigarette as he strolls down Bridge Street in Grand Rapids. His messy blond hair fights the wind as he ponders escapism through art.
“I think at the end of making the album, I realized it was a lot about escapism and about fighting for joy,” Beck says. “I wanted it to sound joyous.
“I don’t think escapism is as bad of a term as people say. Obviously, you want to be present but sometimes it’s the little shit that makes your day. For me it could be listening to records, watching sports, reading, a little weed.”
Beck, who lives in Chicago, returns to his Grand Rapids stomping grounds often to work with The Fever Haze, the Grand Rapids band he plays keys and backing vocals in.
He’s also just released a full-length solo record, “Entertainment Center.” It’s a dreamy, indie-rock, alt-pop album with a colorful array of sounds.
LISTEN: Seth Beck, “Entertainment Center”
Originally from Allendale, Beck spent his early days paying his dues as a solo songwriter around West Michigan before moving to Chicago and forming a band in June of 2021.
“It’s hard to compare the two. Obviously, Chicago is a much larger scale. I think one difference is bands are more focused on breaking out in Chicago. There are a lot of indie artists moving up from touring regionally to nationally,” Beck says.
“There are a few bands in GR going that direction – but it seems less common for that to be the goal. Which is totally OK, but competition forces you to work harder, and I find I benefit a lot from that – but that’s the trajectory I want for myself. It’s absolutely OK to be a hobbyist.
“Good music is made through feeling good, regardless of what city or scene you’re in. There are a lot of pedal steel players in Chicago which is fun to see, but if you have a fuzz pedal, I’m probably more into it.”
TURNING SONGWRITING INTO A DISCIPLINE
Beck says the pandemic lockdown urged him to turn songwriting into a discipline. Inspired by films, records, literature and even video games, Beck would spend hours working on songs. He’s been watching “The Sopranos” and “Seinfeld” lately, and reading books by Tom Robbins and Frederick Exle.
“I like writing about mundane things, but in a romantic way. That feels best when I can say something that’s really clear, but it fills me with joy,” Beck says. “It makes me more in touch with the things that I find important in my own world, you know? And then when you share with other people, it gives them the chance to build from it themselves.”
When we arrive at our photo destination, we leave the street and climb a flight of stairs to a warm, earthy room that overlooks the Westside. Beck leaves the candy-colored sunglasses on and hits the camera with a tinted stare.
Beck and his band will perform in Grand Rapids tonight (Saturday, May 13) at Vision House Studio. For information and location, email Beck at email@example.com. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are available at the door.
“The shows are gonna be fun. Pure fun. Life changing. Jackie, Rick, and Jim from the Fever Haze will be in the band as well as Archie from the One Hits. It’s the same band that’s on the record,” Beck says.
“We’ll be playing mostly songs from the new record, and a few from June. I’m trying to play mostly DIY spaces. There’s nothing better than a packed basement show.”
He adds: “Full band feels like the completed picture these days. Solo is fun because you get to be in total control. Playing with a band is more like a roller coaster or something. You gotta hold on tight and go with the energy, lean into the twists and turns.”
Check out the full Seth Beck album, “Entertainment Center,” at bandcamp here.
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