Friday, March 9, 2012

Interview with The Beautiful View

A version of my interview originally appeared at
Aaron Magnan and his Beautiful View band mates take pride in their hometown, a place that spawned such notable rock music acts as Tom Waits, P.O.D., The Dragons, The Zeros and Black Heart Procession.
So the alternative group’s moniker - a rough translation of the Spanish phrase and location Chula Vista – makes perfect sense.
“We’re really proud of it,” enthused the singer/guitarist, during a recent phone interview. "In many cities, musicians say, ‘there was nothing to do, so we played music.’ In Chula Vista, there was a lot to do and we played music…it’s always been a big part of who we are."
Magnan, lead guitarist Adrian Cordero, bassist Paul Rich and drummer Duane Allan attended Hilltop High together in the ‘90s. Each played in different bands and combinations collectively for a decade and worked on “getting our craft and performance abilities” down pat. Then they discovered “we had more in common musically” and formed TBV in 2007.
Upon recommendation from a mutual friend, Mario Escovedo – the former Dragons leader with a famous musical family pedigree - caught The Beautiful View live at Bar Eleven (formerly Radio Room) in San Diego. He offered to “polish us up a little and definitely did,” before signing the quartet to his local management/booking company/label Requiemme.
Highly engaging debut album “Life is Beautiful” came out in January. Although the post-punk and New Wave-leaning sounds recall The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and The Bravery at times, Magnan cited members’ more harder-edged inspirations (Jane’s Addiction, Fugazi, Failure) while making it.
“I’m really into Rock en Espanol; my favorite is Argentine rock band Soda Stereo. We all love old stuff like Depeche Mode, the Smiths, David Bowie, PiL. Sometimes we’ll distort a sound, but the influences are definitely there. We play lots of different styles on the album, whereas the next one we’re currently writing, is more uniform. ‘Life is Beautiful’ was written over five years’ [time], so you get a mix of our musical maturity.”

According to Magnan, Cordero is a master of unique effects and techniques, aspects “carried over from back in the day."
Standout song “Praying Bones,” about being skeptical of romance or certain friendships, boasts a majestic sonic uplift and finds the front man asking “how can you love in times like these?”
“That theme definitely dominates the lyrics. Given all the complexities of human nature, how do you pull love out of that? How does love hold it together?"
The tune was devised as an instruction manual of sorts. Magnan, an English teacher at San Ysidro High, frequently talks to his graduating students about facing the real world. “I go through these things myself with people I encounter everywhere.”
Frantic lead off track “The Horseman,” driven by searing guitars, received radio airplay on 91X and 94.9 FM’s local music showcases and other specialty shows across the country. An accompanying performance music video was shot at The Spot, a World War II-era factory in San Diego’s Barrio Logan that was converted into an art studio.  
“We wanted to display who we were as a band more than tell a certain story. We played up the theme of wine. It’s mentioned, but kind of removed from, what’s going on in the song; except for the party aspect.” (view it here:
Visually, the guys have a distinct fashion sense that makes them stand out without abandoning their core identities, noted Magnan, who admitted they keep up-to-date through GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin and indie music blogs.
“It doesn’t detract from the music. If you grew up on the border, there’s a definite difference” among the social hierarchy, including what the vocalist calls the “border class.”
“Businessmen and drug dealers dress in a certain way - kind of a hybrid between San Diego and Tijuana. We’re not necessarily doing that, but the aesthetic is reflected in our decision making” on attire.
Next week, TBV will make its first appearance at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin. Magnan doesn’t anticipate too much of the typical partying though.
“We’re doing a tour afterwards, so we’ll have to pace ourselves."

We’re going to do as much as we can so we’ll still get the full experience.” He said hooking up with some new industry contacts to help the album and future tours get a bigger push “would be ideal. We’re with a really good booking agency now, but you can always keep moving forward.”
The Beautiful View performs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, $10, 619-232-4355 
For other U.S. tour dates, go to:

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