Monday, March 12, 2012

Bonus Q&A with The Beautiful View

Here is more from my interview with singer/guitarist Aaron Magnan of Chula Vista band The Beautiful View...

Q: Do you try to keep the song titles enigmatic? For example, the first two, “The Horseman” and “The Spaniard” aren’t actually mentioned in the lyrics.
Honestly, I think we’ve moved away from that lately. At that time, there were these strange pictures on our bass player’s wall that his grandmother had painted. She had dreamed [about] these people on the wall. We [decided] to do a mysterious song title and kind of shade the feeling of the song a little. So we were identifying these different people. “Nothing Like the Joy of a Southern Woman” came from one of those things, also from the fact that my wife is from Southern Mexico. We have “The Spaniard” and we knew his grandma was Spanish. It was like, ‘this must’ve been the Spaniard man, you know?’ With “The Horseman,” there was a guy who looked like he should be riding a horse. It was simple and kind of ridiculous the way we came up with them. 

Q: During “The Horseman,” your vocals have a paranoid quality and you sing about a "monkey on your back." Are those lyrics referring to substance abuse at all?
More to any sort of burden that somebody carries around. I’ve seen people take [it to mean] drugs and alcohol and that’s totally right on because I’ve gone through that myself. I was really trying to make it a metaphor for any sort of burden that we carry and how we get it off. Part of that is just enjoying what we have. As far as the frenetic energy behind it – it is something that came with meditating on the lyrics. You get filled up with the emotion running through your head.

Q: What is the brief snippet of a child’s voice at the start and end of that song?
Our guitar player’s niece. When she was younger, she used to sing that song, so we recorded it. He held it on his phone for years. When we were recording, it was like, ‘let’s put that on there.’

Q: The CD packaging has an Asian look. Intentional?
The artist we sent it to came up with a few different ideas. One of them had an Asian bent to it and almost looked like a Yakuza tattoo. While we’re not necessarily mobsters or anything and hold no illusions about that, we do think it’s fascinating – whether it’s tattoo artwork or some sort of traditional artwork that carries over into modern times. We told him, ‘let’s keep going with that.’ It worked out. Some of it’s just edgy fonts and things. Underneath it, there’s definitely a Japanese feel.   

Q: Would you say the San Diego music scene is still vibrant?
Yeah, there are people who have opened up their own independent studios and promotion groups there. My high school students will tell me, ‘there’s this band from Chula Vista I really like.’ I’ll look at the band online and they’re 16 year old kids and I’m like, ‘ok, cool. It’s still happening.’

Q: What was it like growing up in Chula Vista?
We saw both the blessing and danger in it. Culturally, it was a huge impact on us as people. Between the ages of 21-28, I lived in Tijuana. We’re influenced by the music and huge art scene in Tijuana. Graffiti art and fine plastics. Those were positive influences. But we’ve also seen the difficulties Tijuana has had, economically and politically. That carries over. If you go to school with people who live down there, you date people who live down there, you have family who lives down there. It’s definitely influenced everything who we are.

Q: What’s next for the band?
We’re looking at writing our new album. That’s going to be our focus. We got done with one, now let’s put out the next one. We just want to keep doing that. Touring is important too because we want to tour our next album with a lot more force behind it. This album came together surprisingly well.  

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