After a 15-year hiatus, Santa Cruz Shoegazers, Bethany Curve, have released Murder! on Kitchen Whore Records. The new record is described as “a visceral experience that draws the listener in deep towards the beating heart of the band and showcases the dynamic vocal styles of Richard Millang and Lisa Dewey”.
Bethany Curve formed in 1994. Although some members have come and gone over the years, Richard Millang and David MacWha have been there since the beginning. The band currently consists of Richard Millang (songs, vocals, guitars), Nathan Guevara (guitars), David MacWha (drums) and Lisa Dewey (vocals).
We asked Richard Millang about music, art, travel, and what’s on the near horizon for the band and this is what they told us.
What are you listening to right now?
John Maus. Specifically his last record Addendum and more specifically, the song “Dumpster Baby” and “Figured it Out”. I’m also listening to the latest Residents record, Intruders, which I like because it reminds me of my favorite Residents record, Demons Dance Alone. Other than that, David Lynch, Tame Impala, Exploded View, Odd Nosdam, Caretaker, HTRK…
What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?
We played a lot of Beach Boys, Doors, Mamas & Papas, at home when I was a kid but the first record I ever purchased myself was U2 Rattle and Hum in 1988. That was my prize possession until I then quickly discovered PiL, Jane’s, Siouxsie, Joy Division, Love & Rockets, etc.
Vinyl or CD/Digital?
All things being equal, probably vinyl. But it also depends on the record you want to listen to. Some records just sound better on vinyl and others on CD. For example, I LOVE listening to records like Bowery Electric, Boards of Canada, Pygmalion, Black Moth on vinyl.
What are your favourite bands?
Are you kidding me? Way too many to possibly list. Even my top of the top of the top is an impossible list. But, I’ll narrow it to the bands that had a direct impact on my music and songwriting. Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Pixies. Probably no surprises here.
Why do you live where you do?
I live in Santa Cruz, California. It’s the Garden of Eden if you ask me. We have the ocean and beaches, giant redwood forests, more agriculture, vineyards, wineries and breweries than you can imagine. Hiking, biking, surfing. SF is about an hour away and so is Big Sur. Not a bad existence living here.
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
An all day hike with my wife and our puppy, then an early dinner in Davenport overlooking the cliffs and ocean while sipping on Gin and Tonics.
What is your dream vacation if money was no object?
I had an amazing time in both Capri, Italy and San Sabastian, Spain last year. It ruined me! All I want to do is visit more places like that for many months at a time. Once the stress of life and work lifts off your shoulders and you just immerse yourself into the culture of these beautiful places, it’s euphoric.
What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?
Immediately find the finer bars and restaurants within reasonable distance. That, and also record stores.
What inspired you to take up music?
My parents had me in piano lessons at 4 years old. I hated it. Too much structure. Quit piano around 10. Starting really getting into bands at 12. Started playing piano again but on my terms. Songwriting on piano by ear. At 14, I realized I needed to teach myself guitar. My dad had an old Guitar Standards book by Mel Bay. I taught myself from that book. By 16 or 17, I started playing leads from the Cure, Pixies, etc by ear. Wore out a lot of cassettes. Starting writing my own songs on guitar. By 18, there was nothing that would stop me from finding or starting a band. Then started Bethany Curve with the other members at age 19. I was 20 years old when we wrote and released Skies on CD. I felt so grown up then.
Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?
David Lynch. I have so…many…questions. He apparently loves quinoa and my wife makes this insane quinoa with warm apples and caramelized onion that is both sweet and savory. I’d probably pair that with a 2010 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. I hear he loves Bordeaux!
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Three come to mind. 1) Special Agent Dale Cooper, 2) Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood and 3) Captain Hawkeye Pierce from MASH.
What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?
Slowdive 1994 at the Roxy in LA and Cocteau Twins 1994 at Warfield in San Francisco. Those 2 shows literally motivated me to start a band.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.
I was at the MoMA in New York in 2017. We were on the 3rd floor or something. Installation pieces all over the place. Can’t recall the theme. I see this museum staffer, standing in the middle of the room just staring forward with no expression. I approached her wondering if maybe she’s part of the exhibit. When I got within just a few feet, I noticed a clear nylon looking string or wire that was connected to a steel disc on the floor and went all the way up to the ceiling and connected to a steel disc on the ceiling. The staffer was standing there because otherwise people would be walking into this thing. It’s invisible from 10 feet away. Once I realized this was the art piece, I had a visceral reaction. How could someone connect a clear string from the floor to ceiling and make it into MoMA as a legit piece of art? Are you kidding me??? That altered my mind you could say.
What does the next 6 months look like for you?
Basking in the glow of a record that took too many years to complete. Birthing this thing was more emotional and painful for me than any record in my past. I will say that I’m so glad it finally happened because it’s by far my favorite BC record. I’m very proud of Murder!
Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?
Meet. Because it humanizes them. And you could probably learn even more from what they have to say to you.