Campus Band: Beilis

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In a world where college bands seem to be perpetuating the same ol’ indie trend, Beilis serves as a refreshing reminder that not all college bands want to be The Walkmen 2.0.  The band, fronted by
Matt Beilis SEAS ’07, is composed of guitarist Pete Couto C ’07, drummer Matt DeWit NJIT ’07, and bassist Dylan Shemat MSM ’09. Bwog music correspondent Justin Goncalves speaks to front man Matt about Teenybopper love songs, fractions, and touring with Teddy Geiger.

First thing’s first, I noticed Teddy Geiger of LoveMonkey and TRL semi-fame is listed as one of your friends on MySpace.  I’ve heard some rumors you were on tour with him?

Yeah, last August I went on tour with Teddy Geiger’s band to perform keyboard, organ, and back-up vocal duties. 

How did that happen?

A friend of mine got me an audition with his manager.  I tried out though they wanted a guy that was more organ centered.  I did my best and even though I’m predominantly a piano player I got it.  I toured with them for month playing for crowds of 500-1000 people every night.  It was an amazing experience.

Being in SEAS, there’s a misconception that a lot of students aren’t all that creative.  Have your studies had any impact on your music?

It hasn’t really affected my playing directly.  I’ve always thought of math and music as similar entities. A measure is nothing more than the whole and the notes are just parts: it’s all fractions.  For me, music made me interested in science and math.

Read more after the jump!

So besides Lobechevsky (19th Century Mathematician), who would you cite as your musical influences?

Billy Joel, Elton John, Gavin Degraw, Ben Folds, and John Mayer.

Ben Folds or Ben Folds Five?

That’s a tough one.  I’ll have to say Ben Folds.  I like the idea of a singer-songwriter on his own. That’s how I’ll be playing this Saturday [tonight].

What have you recorded so far?

On MySpace, my original EP, Too Far Away.  It was produced by Chris Keup, who worked with Jason Mraz.  The drummer and bassist on the EP played on Mraz’s debut album.

Considering the kinds of songs you write, it seems like it would be difficult to avoid cliché.  How do you do it?

My earlier stuff is pretty cliché.  Writing lyrics is much newer to me.  My earlier stuff was much more Teenybopper.  I’d give the first album I recorded to my friends and their little sister’s would end up loving it.  I’m stating to steer away from love songs.  On & Off is about a friend turning his back on you.

Is there any particular mindset with which you approach your compositions?

I feel like my art has to make sense and be cohesive.  You can equate it to painting modern art and classical.  My songs have to be cohesive, classical.

How would you describe your music?

It’s piano-based pop rock.  Elton John meets John Mayer.  John John (laughs).  Elton John vocals with a John Mayer style.

Where do you see this going?

Ideally, I would love to be recognized by a major record label.  My end goal would be to make a living.  I used to want go into finance, retire early. I would trade the income for what I love to do.  I was initially into programming and if I were programming for a living, I’d play piano for a release.  You can’t really do the opposite and I never want to lose that.

Beilis plays tonight, 7 pm, at the Tank.

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  1. shh  

    Please don't be so disrespectful. He is a musician. A good one too. Plus this is a good interview. That's hot. You are not.

  2. well

    the state of college bands would be a lot better off if more of these college bands were the walkmen 2.0.

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