23 Sep 2023

Anatomy of a Scroll: The Beths, 'Expert In A Dying Field'

From Music 101, 1:30 pm on 23 September 2023

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The Beths

Photo: Frances Carter

Leading up to the APRA Silver Scroll awards, Music101 is interviewing the songwriters and producers in detail about their nominated song - pulling and picking apart and dissecting the songs.

Charlotte Ryan visited The Beths at Whammy Bar to discuss their nominated song 'Expert in a Dying Field'.

"The song is about how when you love someone, very close to someone and then for some reason that person's not in your life anymore, you still have all of this knowledge about them, like big things and small things, you just have all that information and doesn't just go away and you have to figure out how to manage it," vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Stokes says.

"It's an idea that I had floating around for a while, like before it became a song, and then I think the phrase clarified itself, and I had that for a while without a song, eventually the song came up, which doesn't always work like that, there's [usually] a title of the song before the song."

Stokes says the song is based off a demo from late 2020, but it had a different arrangement.

They kept on tweaking the song to get the balance of the bridge and loud and quiet parts right, lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce says.

"In the end, we just went back and played the riff like eight times through with a crescendo. I kind of think we almost neglected the song because we thought it was going to be fine, and we were quite confident about it.

"Working out moments like that where 'oh okay, so the bridge just needs to be simple, basically the same thing we've heard before but like put a full stop, and getting the dynamics of that right meant 'oh we have this idea, Tristan, I know we've had you play the drums on the song three times already, but we need to do it again, because we've now changed the dynamics again of the guitars and the singing'."

Drummer Tristan Deck says he was more than happy to do another take.

"I'd been really reviewing my own part in the song and I'd just been listening to a lot of Crowded House and I think there was just something about the drum part in a lot of those songs that really spoke to me, it was striking a balance between the more traditional kind of pop punk drum part ...  and I liked listening more to organic drum parts from bands like The Mutton Birds and Crowded House and stuff like that, I was listening to a lot of that at the time, so I was super stoked to do another final take."

"There's one thing that unites The Beths, we're always up for another take, all of us," says Jonathan.