All that Ed Schrader needed at the beginning of Music Beat was a floor tom and an audience. For those who were in attendance at his sets over the three years he was solo, they saw an individual that was hell-bent on being as punk as they possibly could. Thrashing along two-minute bangers in his sets, Schrader would go on to release the lo-fi a cappella field recordings The Choir Inside in 2009 via Wham City. Schrader continued to forge ahead musically and soon he would team up with bandmate Delvin Rice. Looking to expand the performance, Schrader enlisted Rice when he was asked to play a rave in Baltimore. It was a match made in heaven; Rice’s inclusion meant aggressive post-punk tunes quickly becoming more fleshed out and focused.
Now comes Ed Schrader’s Music Beat third album and first with Carpark Records Riddles. Released on March 2nd, the new album showcases a fresh direction and a bolder sound, mostly in part to the involvement of electronic-pop musician Dan Deacon. Two years went into the production of Riddles, during which the trio experienced tumultuous moments in their personal lives. From the passing of Schrader’s stepfather and Rice’s brother, along with Deacon’s relationship ending, the production of Riddles took a different turn. The result is Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s strongest music to date.
We caught up Schrader recently to learn more about the early days, influences on the duo, and the unique spin on the release of the album.
What do you two remember about the first show you played together?
It was an outdoor rave at this place called The Club Paradox in Baltimore -It was booked as a dance party that Dan was supposed to headline but he got sick so it was us Teeth Mountain and a bunch of noise bands and tons of ravers from the suburbs expecting a dance party -we gave them a rude awakening, and they dug it ! There was a dude dressed like an avatar juggling fire!
What has the scene in Baltimore influenced you musically over the years?
I’d say Double Dagger, Dope Body, Santa Dads, Blood Baby, Dan (Deacon), Beach House, and Sick Weapons were def influential in our DNA. Twig Harper produced the first album and that def molded the wildness of the sound! He had truck ham mics around the room to get the crazy drum sound! He is a noise god!!!
I read that you two found touring to be difficult in the early stages of the band. Now that you are established and have nineteen tours accounted for, what’re your views on it now?
Even when it was tough, it beat washing dishes!
We just played for gas to get to the next town and crashed on floors like every band in that zone. It was tough coming home broke then jumping back into the “dish pit”! We got lots of good friends supporting us now and showing love -so there’s always a nice couch and good BBQ and “oregano” around each corner! Sometimes even a hotel!!! Oh and Future Islands for me are definitely lyrical influence
Ed-you started the project as a solo project that featured just yourself and a floor tom. When did it become clear to you that having Devlin incorporated was necessary?
Ummm the first practice. I was a wild man trying to steer a ship and catch the fish at the same time. Dev is El Captain!
Everyone involved with this album during the recording process had to work through personal unrest. With all of the unfortunate events that transpired, how important was it for everyone to band together?
I heard in the radio recently someone say “with my friends by my side I can get through anything ” It was like Stranger Things, and we had to team up to fight our own beasts and fears. Can I please be “Eleven?!”
With the untimely passing of your family members, do you feel that creating music is more important than ever?
I think more to the point it was a warp zone to being able to feel again and thereby process and grieve and rock! I go in my head when bad stuff happens. Dan and Dev got me out of there!
Lyrically, did the album in some change with the unprecedented circumstances that occurred with everyone?
Yeah, I think Dan really pushed the need to be direct -so to relate to others going through this stuff-no riddles! He really wanted me to practice restraint and minimalism. I feel like it paid off, at least as a personal goal for me to cut the BS. HA HA HA!
Besides being a good friend and an immaculate musician, what was about Deacon that led you two to have him produce the album?
He is a huge fan and is good at taking a pebble and making it sound like a boulder, whereas we like to take a boulder and smash it into dust! I think the dual tension made for good grooves!
With the pre-order of the new album and Carpark Records, people will be able to get their hands on some “Ed Schrader’s Music Beans” coffee. What inspired the idea to ground your own brew?
Someone made the pun “music beans,” and we’re like “I’ll do ya one better!” Dev man is a CoffeeRoaster, and I drink a pot of the stuff each day, so it just made sense! Dev used coffee from the COMSA Collective in Honduras -which he fell in love with while working for Baltimore coffee roaster Thread! It is a blend that is agreeable to many. I LOVE IT!!
How long did the process to choose your roast of coffee?
Dev Man used his roasters intuition.
With Riddles, you two strived to make an album that was more dynamic than previous efforts. Do you feel that this a springboard towards new terrain with your music?
Totally. I feel like with this album we established a whole new language for ourselves to get lost in. I love getting lost in sonic worlds and peeling through the brush to find gold!