Sludge metal often overlaps with its cousin stoner metal for a slow-burning concoction, but Chicago’s These Beasts have no time to waste. Rather than simmering at a set temperature, the trio propel ever onwards. Their new single “Nervous Fingers” precedes their upcoming debut Cares, Wills, Wants and displays their noise rock affectations. It’s built on a base of guitars reminiscent of desert rock, though that desert is scorching and the landscape is dotted with prickly cacti. Compared to the rest of the album, “Nervous Fingers” is These Beasts at their most streamlined. It’s a shot of robot rock and fuzz, meaning it’s a purist’s ideal rock music; concentrated, humble, and aggressive. We spoke with guitarist and vocalist Chris Roo about the track and Cares, Wills, Wants. Read the full conversation and listen to “Nervous Fingers” below.



I love the message behind your album title Cares, Wills, Wants - the idea that we have to balance all three. How does that balance come out with your songwriting?

We start by writing a lot of stuff and then we scrap a lot of songs and material. We then demo our songs in the practice space and we then start to peel away what is most important for what we are going to keep. So I think that helps to make sure it is all balanced.

You reference the tough losses you endured throughout the pandemic; how did those years change your friendships with each other and thus influence this latest album?

For me basically, right away at the start of lockdown I got a call that a close friend had died and that just sort of began a long stretch of hearing news like that and not being able to see anyone during those hard times. So for me having Keith and Todd around to be able to get that out in music probably made us closer than we’ve ever been. It was great to be able to have a space to go to and write music and hang out when there was nothing else.

Noise rock/sludge is more rooted in personal turmoil, but your take on it is rather uplifting. What was your mindset to turn it into a more optimistic experience?

In general, we are pretty positive when it comes to our outlook. It’s like onstage or on our recorded material we sound heavy and possibly angry but when we aren’t playing, we are always cracking jokes and laughing around each other. So it’s refreshing to hear that it actually comes through even in our music.

How did your influences or aims change between recording Cares, Wills, Wants and your earlier material?

For one, we wanted to finally do a full-length. Our previous EP was intended to be a full length but we had some setbacks and ultimately decided to just go ahead and release what we had and move on to new material. We are always checking out new bands together and sending each other stuff, so I’m sure that always seems to steep into our heads and influence us. Our main aim always is to try to make an even better album than we have before and hopefully we did that this time around.

To me, there’s a purity to your music; a focus on the experience in-and-of-itself as an expression that comes from the looseness of your playing. It sounds like a live act being put right to tape. How has your live playing influenced your studio recordings, and did it change due to the pandemic?

We get together in our rehearsal space quite a bit and when we are preparing for a show or for recording, we really labor our efforts into making sure we are absolutely prepared. When we are preparing to record we make sure we have all of our stuff down so that we can just get it down right away and not waste any time. So, I guess with those going hand and hand on how we prepare for both, then it makes it sound like we do live. Also, Sanford Parker, who recorded our album is really good about capturing us in a way that sounds natural and like we would sound live.

“Nervous Fingers” is a great single because it gets to These Beasts’ heart - what made you select it for a single?

It’s a fun song to play and it’s named after the first band I was in when I moved to Chicago. To be honest though, I filmed a bunch of studio footage whenever I was able to and when I was going through footage later to edit a video for a single, it was the one song that I found a full take of Keith playing drums. So it just seemed like a great choice for a single. Hahaha!

There’s a cathartic release I get from listening to your music. It feels like it’s a bonding between the listener and the performer. How intentional was that shared catharsis; was it your aim or am I just catching unintended vibes?

I don’t think it was intentional but it’s great to hear! Obviously we want the listener to feel some sort of emotion while listening to our music, whatever that may be. So I’m happy to hear that our music helps to get out any sort of hardship or feelings that might be clouding them.

Chicago has a deep noise rock history with Jesus Lizard, Albini, etc. How did that lineage affect your formation and development as a group?

Chicago has such an amazing music scene and history that it’s almost impossible to not be influenced by it. Chicago also has a very supportive music scene. So that also helps to add to the influence of like-minded bands in the city. Jesus Lizard is also one of our favorite bands. We also recorded this album at Steve Albini’s studio, Electrical Audio, so that definitely helps get that Chicago sound.

What’s the texture or feel you wanted to drive home on Cares, Wills, Wants and how’d it compare to your earlier releases?

We definitely wanted to get out what we were feeling at the time on this one and we really had quite a bit of time to be able to reflect on that whereas on our previous albums I don’t think we really had enough time to be able to do that.


Cares, Wills, Wants releases April 21st via Magnetic Eye Records.

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