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Human Behavior's Soul-Searching Via TV Screens

Tucson's Human Behavior asks you to peer deep into your soul and examine its makeup through the one conduit they're certain you're comfortable looking through: the TV screen.

That's just part of the premise behind the band's captivating video for "Chapter 1" from its forthcoming album, Bethphage. The video is enthralling for a few reasons. It supports an excellent song, built from intriguing lyrics and a deep musical groove. It's ten minutes long, including an extended musical break, the sort of stuff omitted from modern music videos. There's a quality to the production that is frequently absent from the low-budget efforts of most folk-punk bands.

And there are the TVs, as present in the video as they are on Human Behavior's tour stops.

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"When I was younger, I wanted to work in the film industry," says band's front man, Andres Parada. "Music took over, and I really regret it sometimes. Luckily, I'm able to make video art and project it while we play. The footage I don't personally film is old home videos. I think that the home videos are a way for me to share the naivety of my religious upbringing and set the tone for our performance."

According to Parada, Human Behavior performs "music about God that a lot of people consider sad." Bethphage, expected to be released in April 2015, is broken into two long tracks separated by eight chapters.

"The album is inspired by Jesus overlooking Jerusalem before his final entry, and weeping," he explains. "This is right after he sent his disciples to steal a donkey for him to peacefully ride into Jerusalem, where he knew he would be killed."

"Although I'm not Christian, I can relate to Jesus' fear of death," the singer continues. "I can also appreciate the beauty in preparing for death, rather than losing to it or running from it. This album explores the universal fear of death. Human or God, death is waiting for you and it's absolutely terrifying."

That kind of heady material has listeners dubbing Human Behavior a "dark folk" band. But Parada considers them more than a band -- it's a collective of artists who bring more than musical skills to the venture. Some create physical art for the band, such as shirts, album covers and posters. Others focus on the performance, which borders on theatrical; as Houstonians who caught Human Behavior in October at Black Barbie can attest to that.

The band numbers 11 members in all, but the video features only Parada and Morgan Anderson (vocals), Becker Pattowitz (violin) and Ronald Strange (banjo). Rachel Martin and Max Winston appear briefly "as our sexual rhythm section," Parada says.

"Aside from music, everyone in the band pursues art in other forms, which means getting everyone together for a tour is almost impossible with how busy we all are," he adds. "Instead, we tour four to six members at a time and adapt the set to fit the arrangements we have.

"This means that no tour has been the same, because we've never toured the same lineup twice," Perada continues. "So, even though we're rotating in and out, we all record together and tour when we're able. Words of the day: collective, cult, family."

Story continues on the next page.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.