The Beans are back together. They are breaking up.
Five years after releasing their self-titled debut album, they returned last week with their on the nose titled sophomore effort The Beans Breakup. A day after its arrival, band drummer Brendan Hall spent his day delivering vinyl editions of the project to local record stores Cactus Music, Sound Exchange, and Heights Vinyl. At the day’s end, he sat underneath an umbrella outside Antidote Coffee, reminiscing on the band’s journey that culminates in its farewell show this Friday at Rockefellers.
The Beans began playing shows in 2010 at former Houston hot spots Walter’s Downtown and Fitzgerald’s. “[Fitz] was where we wanted to play,” Hall said. “We got our first show there, you know, we were so pumped.” It was there that they opened up for Meat Puppets, The War on Drugs, and Wanda Jackson. After their album release in 2013, they opened for Alabama Shakes at Free Press Summer Fest.
Since that prolific era, the band’s performance schedule has been sparse. Their last performance was a Led Zeppelin cover set at White Oak Music Hall in summer of 2017. When listening to the Houston natives, it’s hard not to imagine Robert Plant howling alongside lead singer Sam Griffin.
“I mean Zeppelin’s there I guess. We definitely have some blues influences. I mean we have a guitar solo in every freakin’ song,” Hall said. Beans guitarist Christian Galatoire’s solos serve as lighter fluid to songs that are already ablaze.
Recent single “Raging Pulses” plays out as a soundtrack to a maniacal, Hunter S. Thompson-inspired, drug-fueled high speed chase led by Jim Morrison. Album cut “Monochromatic Substitute” sizzles like a summertime cigarette. Throughout the album’s sweltering soundscapes, bass player Daniel Taylor’s lyrics illustrate the aftermath of a fire gone out.
“This album is about [Dan’s] relationship ending, the fallout, and what kind of emotions and thoughts and feelings you’re left with after a pretty loving and romantic relationship ends,” drummer Hall said. Recalling the arduous journey to the album’s release, Hall added: “At one point during the making of this album we almost did break up and not even finish this album. Some of those elements are in there too.”
They began recording the album at SugarHill Recording Studios in 2014 with engineer John Griffin. As years stealthily piled on to the project’s development, friends of the band asked them about the record’s progress. “It seemed like there was another snag that’d derail us for a couple of weeks. Life happens. If you don’t set a deadline, sometimes those things can get away from you,” said Hall.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the band’s drought in between releases was location. Their lead singer and bass player relocated to Arizona and Dallas, respectively. Both of them are returning to Houston this week for the band’s swan song at Rockefeller’s.
“A record release show that is your last show is kind of funny to me. That’s part of it too – let’s have a release farewell show on the same day,” said Hall. He said there’s a sense of finale to it, adding: “It’s just like a nice bow to the breakup of it.” He anticipated the band will throw a bone to longtime fans by performing a handful of older tunes, but the set list will consist of the new album in near entirety.
Piano driven album closer “Tender Destruction” makes a strong case for Friday night’s encore. With lyrics like “What kind of man am I turning myself into? I’m getting too old to decide on my values,” it serves as a poignant ending to the album and a potential tear jerker live in concert.
You can catch The Beans one last time at Rockefeller’s on Friday, November 9 with MIEARS and Paper Gliders. Doors at 8 p.m. Free for all ages.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.