Photo by Mischa Haller
When the Beta Band put out their amazing first three EPs back in 1998, it seemed like they were about to blow bullshit Britpop to pieces and create a musical revolution that would engulf the world and usher in a new age of psychedelia and love. All the care and imagination they put into the music and the movies and fanzines that came with it made you want to throw your arms around them and say, "Thanks for caring."
So why did they fuck it up? And why have they sucked shit for four years?
That's an easy one! The pressure of the cocaine-crazed mid-90s London music business fucked singer Steve Mason's mind up so much that he turned into a power-crazy dictator and wouldn't let any of the other members of the band have a say in recording their bullshit debut. Rumors of infighting and heroin emerged, and their second album was a failed experiment in blending modern R&B beats with wistful indie. The band ended up unloved by the world, cold and lonely, with a £1.5 million debt to EMI Records, and sorely in need of a hug.
The four Scots moved back up north, got snuggly in front of the hearth, and reevaluated what they had been trying to do with the Beta Band before London raped them.
Last year, bass player Richard got married and had a teeny wittle baby, and Steve Mason settled in a picturesque fishing village in Fife. All this quality time looking after themselves and cooling off has led to a self-produced album that's the best thing they've done since the first three EPs.
VICE: So who was the weakest link in the band?
Steve Mason: That would be me.
And that's why the first album was so shit?
And now you're drowning in debt?
The debt to EMI Records is the scariest part.
How are you going to pay it?
Say a CD is £12. The record company gets £11.75 and we get 25p. That 25p is what we have to pay the debt off.
Well, good luck with that.
Heroes to Zeroes is out now on Astralwerks.