Interview with Beau Townshend

Where did it all start for you, where did you grow up?

I grew up in a house in Nolfork, Norwich. I was born in a house north of the country side, then my family split apart when I was about 9. I moved to the city with my mum, and then my Dad moved to Spain with two of my older brothers. He helped them peruse a motorbike racing career, however I was way too young for that.

I was with my mum until I was about 16, I moved out of her house, and my Dad came back to England and moved into another country house, that’s when I really got into music in general and shit.

What were your influences when you were younger, what did you listen to?

That’s the thing when I was younger I went through phases, when I was really young I grew up on my Dads side of things, 60’s music was what I grew up on. And then my Mums side of it, she was interested in house, and electronic music. When I got to 12/13, I was really into heavy metal, punk rock, and rock ‘n’ roll music, old school stuff.

When I got to high school I got more and more into drum & bass, the reason I loved it so much is because my older brother is a drum & bass dj, and the similarities between jungle, and heavy drum & bass was like what I liked in metal, the heavy riffs just roll with it.

Then after that I saw the whole mcing side of it, in a very short time I realised this is not the mcing I like. That’s when I found hip-hop, and hip hop is like the perfect tempo, its spoken word poetry but to rhythm. Stuff like drum and bass (impersonates a drum & bass mc), it’s just bollocks!

How long have you been writing music for?

Since I was about 18. When I was in high school I wrote the odd lyric for drum and bass, but I left it at that, I wasn’t really into it.

There’s an era between the ages of 16-18, all I did was get wrecked and fuck about. And then after my Dad passed away, I used it in a form of venting and expression, getting shit of my chest and head, and getting it onto paper. That’s why all the first lyrics I wrote were just deep stuff, I would never them to anyone.

So you just kept it personal?

Yeah, then one day my mate walked in and picked up one of my books, and I was like “whoah, don’t look at that!” he replied “Ah mate, these are sick!” I was like “really?” he goes “yeah yeah, you should write more!” and it turns out that also he spat lyrics, but I didn’t even know this, it was something no one really told each other. Then suddenly out of the blue all of us were doing it, and we got really into it.

So is that how the group came about?

Yeah pretty much, it’s strange it happen spontaneously, out the blue for everyone. It’s something we had all kind of been working on, and discovered ourselves. Before we’d all been like “Oh you’re into hip hop, yeah yeah”, but we all kind of found it in our own way. Then we were like “Oh have you heard of this?” “What you’re into that?” “Yeah!”

With your group, was you doing out of fun, because I know you’ve done shows and stuff, was it all for fun or was you looking to peruse something?

It’s always been fun to honest, when it came about in the one year we all started to write lyrics and jamming with each other, a lot of my old mates from home all were in different bands, and were starting to take off, starting to go somewhere. And because I had that house in the country, I’m living in the middle of nowhere, all my mates are paying for recording studios, and my Dads got this massive music room, so I was like fucking come to mine! And from then on at the weekend we would have loads of jams, because I have friends in different areas, from different social groups.

You know I had people who were quite chavy but well safe, then I had people who were more indie and chilled. I’d have house parties, and you’d have people stereotypically dismissing each other, but they got there and started jamming together “Ah mate you’re a sick musician, we should link up!” I think music reacts to people in a way that it can connect strangers.

Two groups of people you wouldn’t really put together, they end up working quite well.

Yeah, and then we just started jamming more and more. A mate of ours is a promoter, he runs bass jam in Norwich, the town’s biggest drum and bass, reggae, and dub nights. He basically come into one of our jams like “you guys are fucking wicked, have you got anything recorded?” we replied “nah man, we are just doing it for the fun of it.” “Well the next bass jam night is coming up, you guys can have a set”, but we didn’t have any tunes yet, he turn’t around and said “you guys have a month to do so.”

In that month we all came together, we all had lyrics already written, all the band had to do was come up with the instrumentals for it. It all just happened really quickly. As soon as we did that gig, it was like the first dose of a drug I can’t get away from, it’s addictive.

So what confuses me a little bit, is that you’re so into your music, however you’re doing special effects, what made you want to do special effects, rather than doing something like music performance, picking a course that isn’t really relevant to music?

Here’s the thing, basically, from a very early age I was quite into horror films. My eldest brother, the DJ, he’s quite into his home movies, horror films, special effects, you know, garage shit. When I saw that as a kid, these exploding heads and horror masks when I was 10, it never scared me. When I saw a horror film I was like, how did they do that, how did they make that head explode?

So from an early age it was kind of my plan, because all my family live in America, I wanted to get all my stuff done here then go to America and get into special effects. But obviously upon growing up, and going through life, I found music is the one thing I love. One thing I learnt from school was if you study something you love, it can go two ways. You can even run with it, and it will all work out, or it can force you away from something.

If you have a bad tutor who puts you off what you want to do, you’re going to want to turn your back on it. Apart from special effects, I wanted to do all my own sculptures and art work. But the teachers just seemed to want to try and mould me into what they would have wanted when they were younger.

So when I finished art, I thought fuck this. At the same time I was getting into music, and everyone was saying do a music course, but I said mate, I don’t want to start doing a music course and start to hate it, I would rather do something I like and know could work out quite well for me, with the special effects thing.

Music is something I love that isn’t going to take up my full time, it’s a hobby. I think taking it seriously again, I think it can go either way, you can either put all your time into it, and be disappointed, or you could wait for the right time, and think right now we’ve got something, fuck it lets go out and do it. I think its knowing in your mind when is the right time for that.

Does being at uni interfere with anything you want to do musically, do you still contact the people you use to be in a band in, do you still jam and stuff?

That’s the thing, when I was in Norwich there was a two year gap. The first one we started to jam together and it was all fun and games, then next year is when we got that gig, after that it was like, lets fucking do something.

I knew at the back of my mind at the end of the year I would be going to uni, so we got as much done as possible. We really got on, we were making loads of music, a lot of it didn’t get record, and yet to be recorded.

So when I moved to uni it was kind of like, I just left that all behind. That’s the main thing I miss from my home town, jams and hanging out with music influenced people. Since starting here, I just found I don’t even know if I want to do this course anymore. But I think the best way is to keep them both on par, as I said earlier I don’t want to just dismiss uni and drop out in case it doesn’t go right.

Yeah, something to fall back on, because your only here for three years, you can do things afterwards.

Yeah exactly, I mean while I’m here studying this course, when I go home I’m doing music in my own, spare time. But if I was doing music as a course, I wouldn’t my whole time doing it. With this I think it keeps it short and sweet, if I studying music and had to revise it for work all day, then I came home in my own time, I’d probably want to sit there and watch films. Doing something that is quite hands on, creating something physical, going home then creating something that is a whole other form of expression.

Yeah, so you have a good balance of the two.

I think my Libra star sign comes through there.