Beau Navire have been one of my favorite bands recently, so I couldn’t resist but to interview this Californian emotional hellfire during their European tour in 2011. Photos by Austin Kamps and Norbert Farkas, answers by Trei, Kris, and Jon.
Let’s start with an introduction to your band. Why play music, and more to the point, what are you trying to do lyrically and musically both for yourself and for your listeners?
Trei: Why we play music, and hopefully why most legitimate artists make art, is to express and transcend our feelings and emotions in a way that we couldn’t otherwise physically manifest. Lyrically and musically, we are looking to express and hopefully have our listeners identify with these feelings and emotions that we hold close to our hearts.
Kris: I’ve always subscribed to the idea that you write what you want to read and you play what you want to hear. Being in a band with Jon, Sean and Trei i think makes that very easy and exciting—surprising too, when someone comes up with something completely ridiculous and amazing. Even though we may not be completely alike in terms of what we’re into and what not, there’s a lot of overlap that allows us to write fluidly and enough that we don’t overlap on that produces surprises. For the people that like our band or stumble across it, I can only hope that the music and the words make them feel something like bands that really grip when I come across them. That’s all I can hope for.
What is it about playing in the band that makes you most inspired? How do you define DIY hardcore punk and what makes you happy being involved in this “scene”?
Kris: Making something that I think is beautiful with three really good friends and to have the opportunity to show that to other people is what inspires me most about playing in this band. This is easily the most fun, the most dedicated, the most creative and most productive band I’ve ever been in and it’s been the most fun time in my life. DIY could easily be “DIT”, or do-it-together. In spite of the fact that cities, countries, continents are so big and the common convention that if you want to play shows, release records, tour, whatever, can’t be done unless you’ve got a manager, an agent, a label, etc… that we can do these things for ourselves and each other is what I love about DIY.
Jon: Friendship, family and the support systems we put in place for each other. No matter what part of the world we may go to, I feel we have friends. With punk/hardcore there is a very strong sense of community and friendship, with that comes a ton of incredible experiences. We can travel the world and have a warm meal, a nice couch and a tour guide to stay with. The same goes with here in the bay. When our friends come out we show them around.
Do you like to read and do you have interest in critical thought and world literature? I guess the name of your band is coming from Charles Baudelaire’s poem with the same name. Are you really interested in Baudelaire’s poetry?
Kris: I read a lot of Baudelaire in college and the way that terms such as “beauty” and “ugly” are sometimes juxtaposed or inverted was always very interesting to me. One poem of his, “The Bad Glazier” sums that up pretty nicely: the narrator pushes a window repairman down a long flight of stairs while screaming “Make life beautiful!” over the sound of breaking glass. Not to advocate violence, but it evokes a certain idea about where beauty can come from: either the sublime, clean, pure or something raw, dirty, broken, loud or fucked up. He and Rimbaud both got to me on that, which is where I think the idea for the name came from, at least from me. On top of that, I read a lot of stuff from Paris Review and Partisan Review writers as well as Barthes, Althusser, Camus and Sartre, so I have a little bit of background in critical/literary thought.
Tell us about your lyrics and the message you want to spread with your music. For what kind of feelings, emotions and ideas do you lyrics stand for?
Trei: Well, our message in a simple form could be the question “do you understand?”, or “do you feel this way too?” We want people to feel connected with our lyrics, and the love, friendships, political angst, teenage angst, social criticism and a number of ideas/emotions that we’ve felt in this life.
Have emotions disappeared in modern day society where the money and spectacle have become gods? Do you think there’s still a lot of passion and emotions in the hardcore scene, or the kids are still looking for something meaningful that they can relate to, but there is just little to no substance in most current bands and things happening in the scene?
Trei: I doubt that emotion has disappeared in modern day society, I and those around us seem to be surging with them everyday. I think that apathy is a huge part of modern society due to what you refer to as the “spectacle”. I believe personally that humans have the aptitude to persevere through this, in my opinion, terrible philosophy of the “modern meaningless existence”. I think there is still a ton of passion and emotion put into the hardcore scene, although it is constantly evolving. Younger people will always look for something to relate to, there is definitely still substance in being a part of the hardcore/DIY scene. Come one come all.
In my opinion, one of the differences between what’s considered to be traditional hardcore punk and the attitude of today’s hardcore punk is, that now you still have your ideas, your convictions, etc. but you would much rather just surround yourself with like-minded people who provide an accepting, safe environment than engage in direct confrontation to stand up for your convictions, which was considered the essence of hardcore punk in its earliest days. What do you think about that?
Kris: I think the aggressiveness that is inherent when you think of punk in the past has been re-focused and refined into the zeal and passion with which people forge new relationships, explore new places and write the music they write. If being aggressive and confrontational in my convictions, to a violent degree (being the first to fight, being some aggro jock with a chip on his shoulder), is being punk then I’d rather not be. Comfort, community and safety are natural human instincts and I’d take those any day over a fist to the face, mine or anyone else’s.
Tell us about yourselves as individuals and about your hometown. What are the important things in life for the individuals in Beau Navire and are you involved in some sort of activism or social activities? Are you interested in politics, do you read the daily news, etc.?
Kris: I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. I got my first exposure to DIY and house shows there when I was in high school, seeing bands like Funeral Diner, Welcome the Plague Year, Wow, Owls!, The Setup, Order, D’amore, Snack Truck, et al. It was cool to realize that you didn’t have to be a huge bar venue to put on an awesome show or be at a place like that to be genuinely surprised by the music people made.What’s important to me are my friends and my family. All else comes after.
Are there any other good emo/hardcore bands around your area with people of colour in their line-up? I think there are a lot of kids from the latino community, but still not so many black people involved. I don’t remember any bands except Yaphet Kotto.
Jon: There are always bands coming and going with people of varying race, color and religion. Stares, Early Graves (RIP Makh), Allegiance, First Blood, Fleabag and a ton of others come to mind for sure.
Any last words or advice to the readers you would like to impart? Is there something important that you would like to say, but I missed to ask you?
Trei: Stay punk. Stay beautiful!
Jon: I would like everyone to remember that we can all do anything we strive to accomplish. Waking up on a daily basis to work or pay bills is hard enough, if you don’t take the time to make yourself and those around you happy and comfortable then what is the point. As Trei said, stay punk, stay beautiful; live our lives to the fullest and with passion.
The interview was orignally published in Bulgarian language (Tigersuit Zine #3) and English (Tigersuit Zine #4)