Tripp Beam is an LA-based drummer and one-half of the band Psychic Friend.
After The Show: So you recently got back from SXSW with Psychic Friend – how did that go?
Tripp Beam: Great! It was my first time visiting Austin and the festival so I was real eager to get to do that. Our shows went very well and we met a lot of nice people. And so much music! The town itself is growing so much…a really cool place. Only downside, I was bummed I missed Prince [laughs].
Is playing live more fun for you than recording in a studio?
I think I’ll always be comfortable in the studio. Both are great but different. Playing live can be a boost and there’s a real thing or excitement about having musicians in the same place making music together. For me it’s more about being a part of the creative process that may involve coming up with parts, working with producers, and capturing a moment on tape that I love.
You recorded My Rocks Are Dreams at Dangerbird Studios. What was that experience like?
It was great. We were on a quick schedule so it was kind of a ‘one right after the other’ sort of thing when it came to laying down the tracks but fun at the same time. The studio is in a house right by their office so it’s got that home studio vibe. Lots of great gear and very cool sounds. The staff were super nice and accommodating. That’s them doing hand claps on track 7 of the record. Just a really fun experience. We were scheduled in between two pretty big bands so we were honored to do it.
“Never Burn, Never Bruise” is my favorite song on the album, and I think the drums are most potent in “Softer Side.” What’s your favorite song to play?
It’s funny because that song was never really thought of as a potential single but people are loving it! “Quality Control” comes to my mind just because it has a cool, tough groove to it. Live, people really seem to enjoy “We Do Not Belong.”
How is Nashville vs. LA in terms of being a good place to be a drummer?
Both are great places I would definitely recommend. At the end of the day it depends on the musician and where he/she feels comfortable or inspired to create. I had always seen myself going to LA but chose Nashville first mainly because lots of people were moving there (and still are)…More affordable, closer to my family, the list could go on and on. But in the end I found I wasn’t going to be happy unless I took a chance and did what I thought was right for me. I’ve been in both places for the same amount of time now and for me LA has been better in the way of opportunities and the music scene. People give LA a bad rap but Nashville was VERY hard for me to break into.
You’ve played interesting one-offs like with Moby and the Paul Williams night…How do you find opportunities to play?
Both of those situations happened because I either knew the Musical Director, or someone close with the artist. So I would say relationships are very important in getting opportunities to play. When I first moved to town I knew no one and had no gigs… zero. It took a while but gradually I began making friends with songwriters and started playing with them who introduced me to more and more people in the industry. It takes time but eventually people will have a reason to call you and then you gradually get worked in.
How did you realize that you wanted to play drums professionally?
I didn’t really grow up in much of a musical family. During high school was when it really hit me that you could make a living at being a musician and that’s when I started taking it more seriously. It was one of those things I knew I wanted to do but had to find out on my own how to do it. Playing music professionally was always in the back of my mind but for some reason I was intimidated by it mostly because it’s a bit of an odd profession and seemed like a ‘too good to be true’ sort of thing. After college I moved to Nashville to work on the business side of things and then I knew right away playing was what I wanted to do.
Are you discouraged or encouraged by the current state of the music business?
There’s definitely pros and cons in my opinion. As a songwriter I can see where it’s frustrating because obviously revenue has taken so much of a hit these days compared to what the industry was used to long ago. As an artist I can see how now the playing field is as big as it’s ever been. As a musician I think it’s a good time to try and break in, which is where I’m at. I mean the upside of not having big budgets for records and stuff is that people might be more likely to give someone else a chance verses an A list session guy they can’t afford. And I would imagine it might be the same with tours and other aspects of the business.
Regardless, we’re all in this sort of big transition that still after 10 years has not resolved itself. I think it’s on the right path; I read an article recently in the NY Times that global music sales rose for the first time last year since 1999. Maybe it’s a freak thing but I think the digital market is on its way to being profitable. It’s just a whole new world now and I think it’s here to stay.