Sound Bites Interview: The Beets

Somewhere between '60s Frat Rock and '60s proto-punk, The Beets made one of my favorite albums of 2009, their debut Spit In The Face Of People Who Don't Want To Be Cool. Since then, the band have gone through some line-up changes. Drummer Jacob Warstler has departed and Melissa Scaduto has taken over. There is also a fourth Beet now, hiding in the bushes in the picture above, and his role in the band is rumored to be a woodwind instrument. Look for the Beets new album, Stay Home, on the fine Captured Tracks label this autumn, preceded by new single "Locomotion." If you've never heard the Beets beat, here's a track from last year's debut:

MP3: The Beets – What Did I Do? (Buy it)

The Beets play the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series this Wednesday (June 23) on the Pier 17 Stage at South Street Seaport. The band plays at 1PM sharp, with me DJing before and (a little bit) after. Don't forget to check out the Fulton Stall Market while you're there. Weather looks to be lovely this week, do come if you can. Bassist Jose Garcia was nice enough to answer a few food-related questions.

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Spinach, it's very talented.  You can saute it up with some garlic and oil, and bam you have yourself a side dish.  Throw it into some eggs and it makes a great tasty ingredient.  Toss is with some veggies and some dressing and you could even have yourself a meal.  It also might have something to do with Popeye.

What about least favorite?

Cooked green peppers. Raw they are adored,  but when you cook them a bit too much and they're a soggy slimy mess — the texture just doesn't work for me.

Do the Beets actually like beets?

You're damn right they do. Bubby's Brooklyn needs to bring back the pickled beets with rosemary.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

We do have quite a few songs about puking with the idea of getting everything in you out of your system to start fresh. Puke usually gets tied in with bad food. Then you eat good food and start fresh.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

You're going to kill me but I can't come up with anything! I guess we adore a fast food chain in Seattle called Dick's. Well we can't get enough of saying we can't get enough Dick's.

Do the Beets ever cook together as a band?

Without a doubt, many summers were spent in Juan's Apartment for band practice, so we would definitely cook ourselves some lunch.  Juan makes a really great beef stew adding every spice he has in the cabinet and it works.  Pasta with tons of parmesan was also a favorite as well as good old fashioned microwaved hot dogs.  If we're lucky enough to be at Juan's parents house they definitely know how to cook and his mother is more than happy than to host and cook something up.

The Beets are from Jackson Heights, which is known for Indian restaurants. Got any neighborhood food recommendations?

Though the buffet food is not as spicy as I'd like, I would say the Jackson Diner is the place to go. They serve a lunch buffet that's definitely well worth the price of admission. There is also a favorite spot if you're willing to venture to East Elmhurst, on the corner of 82nd St. and Astoria Blvd are the best Samosas I have ever had. [Tikka Grill? -Ed]

What's your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you're willing to splurge a little?

75 cent Samosa on 74th and 37th Ave in Jackson Heights. [This place? – ED] When I'm willing to splurge it is certainly a "bandeja paisa" from any of the many Colombian restaurants in the neighborhood. It consists of white rice, fried egg, "chicharron" (fried pork skin, way more delicious than it sounds), steak, salad, plantains, kidney beans, etc.

What's your go-to hangover food?

Pizza, We are convinced that the cheese and greasiness absorbs all the gunk left in your belly – I'm sure Science would agree. Also, Water! Always remember to keep hydrated buddies, drink water during your drinking and after right before bed. You may not even wake up with a hangover, but grab a pizza anyway.

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

I would have to state the obvious, and go with a beet of course — a pickeled beet would be perfect. If you ever see us at our shows it's quite fitting, as we usually are pretty pickled ourselves.

In addition to the show on Wednesday, The Beets have a bunch of gigs lined up in the next week, including this weekend's Northside Festival. Click through for specifics.

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Let’s Do Lunch


Free for lunch next month? How about coming down to South Street Seaport for some free rock shows curated by this moi? The Fulton Stall Market launches its second season in the old Fulton Fish Market space on May 30 and to help celebrate, the folks behind it asked if I wanted to help put on some daytime shows the first month the Market is open. I said yes and now we've got the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, which will happen every Wednesday in June. In keeping with the "go local" aspect that is so intrinsic to farmers markets, I stayed with bands from NYC, mostly Brooklyn.

We'll kick things off Sunday, May 30 — the Market's opening day — with a performance from up-and-comers North Highlands, and then the next five Wednesdays. I'll spin some tunes at noon and then bands go on at 1PM. It's free. Here's the full six-show line-up:

MAY 30 (Sunday kickoff): North Highlands (MP3: "Collar Bones")
Lovely orch-pop from one of the nicest, best new bands in Brooklyn. Their live show is pretty magical.

JUNE 2: Air Waves (MP3: "Knock Out")
Gentle jangle somewhere between Neil Young and Loaded-era Velvet Underground. Great songs, great stories.

JUNE 9: The Austin McCutchen Quartet (MP3: "Honey Don't Be Sad")
A talented songwriter from my neighborhood, playing bluegrass in the single mike style just like olden days.

JUNE 16: Ribbons (MP3: "Total Loss")
Dark and mysterious indie rock. This is one of their last-ever shows so don't miss it!

JUNE 23: The Beets (MP3: "What Did I Do?")
If Eddie Haskel formed a protopunk band, The Beets would be it. Bratty, but always leaving you with a thankyouverymuch.

JUNE 30: Toys and Tiny Instruments Band
The name kind of says it all. Serious pop music, but played playfully. And in miniature.

Again, I DJ for an hour at noon, then the bands play at 1PM. The Fulton Stall Market has local purveyors in addition to farmers, and I'm told they're getting cool food trucks under the FDR, so grab some grub and come watch the bands. Sounds idyllic to me. Sets won't be too long, so if you work in the neighborhood you'll be back at your desk checking Facebook in normal time. If you're not encumbered by a job, I can tell you where the cheep beer is at the Seaport.

The Seaport is one of my favorite places to see shows in NYC, certainly my favorite outdoor space, and I always look forward to the Seaport Music Festival every year (this year's schedule looks great, btw), so I'm honored and pysched to be a little part of it this season. And that it's also promoting local farmers (I try to be a locavore as much as possible), it's even better. Come down if you can, I think it's gonna be a good time.