We are excited to premiere the (*spoiler alert* excellent) self-titled debut LP of Near Beer, a three-piece from LA fronted by Joey Siara (of The Henry Clay People and Fakers) who is joined by Brent Stranathan (drums) and Jeremy Levy (bass, backup vocals). Press play below, and continue scrolling to find out more about the band.
At its core, Near Beer is a band of rock-‘n’-roll romantics trying to strike a balance between growing older and not fading out. “You know, aging indie rockers pining for the glory of a perfect power-pop tune while the rest of their friends become responsible, child-rearing adults,” Siara explains. “This Near Beer record is pretty much a rejection of that […] it is about making peace with the fact that we simply love music and don’t really know how NOT to be in a band. Being in a loud indie rock band with your buddies and tons of guitars feels right, and in a world that kinda sucks at the moment, we want to do whatever we can to foster a little joy and human connection.”
Those guitars? Loud indeed, but also melodic. “We have old souls when it comes to our influences,” Siara explains. Near Beer frequently cover classic bands like The Cars, Mott the Hoople, Petty, Blondie, R.E.M, Pavement, The Byrds, and Operation Ivy in practice. Near Beer has a more modern indiepunk sound though, suggesting some contemporary influences are in play as well. Siara goes on to name some of his recent favorites that further proves his love for music (and fit our blog perfectly by the way), like Alvvays, Big Nothing, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Metz, Hop Along, The Umbrellas, Weakened Friends, Tony Molina, Empty Country, Slaughterbeach Dog, Blunt Bangs, and some local LA buddies — The Pretty Flowers, Giant Waste of Man, Coma Twins.
Expect powerful and catchy anthems on the record, almost celebratory. Listen to songs like Double Double, Mixtape Generation or Sleeping Is For Suckers for example, all of which I expext will soon be staples of their live shows – it’s easy to imagine Near Beer sounding even more powerful and cathartic in a live setting. But when you take note of the lyrics, you’ll discover more serious layers as well, like escaping the dreadful state of the world and dealing with personal loss – Siara lost several friends in recent years but also his dog Edna (“My best bud…She was with me the last 13 years, which was easily the strangest era of my life so far.”). That dog you see on the album cover? That’s Edna.
Given it’s been ten years for Siara to release new music, we asked him to reflect on the differences between his time in The Henry Clay People and Near Beer. “Henry Clay People felt more like a longer extension of my youth. My brother was in the band. My buddy from junior high school played drums. We met our bassist in college. It all felt very connected to being young and broke and saying yes to any show anywhere because we had nothing else to do. And I used to write like 3 songs a week and bring them into practice to see if anything would stick. Now, with Near Beer, things operate at a more leisurely adult pace. The songs come out more deliberately. Part of that is having other jobs and being busy and what not. Part of that is living on opposite sides of the country. I’m in New York and the other dudes are in Los Angeles. When we do get together we tend to be pretty productive and celebrate the fact that we can be in a room making music. I think having some age and a little more perspective makes it so we don’t take the band for granted at all. When I was younger in HCP, there were times when I definitely felt like getting to play live music was just sort of a given — easy and forever. With Near Beer, especially in the context of the pandemic, we really cherish each show and any chance we get to find some reprieve from the “real world” by playing some loud rock tunes. I suppose another big difference now is that my body feels more sore the next day. But it’s a good sore.”
Near Beer’s self-titled debut will be out Friday July 15 (on gorgeous custom splatter vinyl) on Double Helix Records. We like it. A lot.