Bending the rules with the Beta Band

by James DeLong

Most bands can be pegged to a musical genre with decent precision. But what about the Beta Band? What do you call a band whose music represents so many genres that not one of them is dominant?

That’s exactly what we talked about with the Beta Band’s DJ John MacLean.

The omni-dimensional quartet from Edinburgh, Scotland has kept busy the past year. After getting their music featured in the hit film High Fidelity, opening for Radiohead’s huge summer tour and releasing a new album, Hot Shots II, you’d think the Beta Band would take a break. With momentum moving in their favor though, the Beta Band plans on seizing the opportunity to breaking through to mainstream success by staying true to their underground roots.

The Lens: How have you guys responded to your growing exposure and success?

John MacLean: We’re very fortunate. It’s a hard market out there, so it feels good to take advantage of all the promotion without selling our souls to corporate control.

TL: Being the DJ for your group, what areas of music do you like to search for samples?

JM: Nothing in particular. Strange music. Stuff that you can’t find anywhere else. Archaic music.

TL: How much does hip-hop influence the sound of the Beta Band?

JM: It’s more subtle, although we like sounding like everything, and not just a certain style of music. We like having DJ sessions and all that, but we’re not trying to be any Scottish rappers or anything.

TL: Where do you want your band’s music to take you, and where do you want your music to take your fans?

JM: For us, we just want to have a good time. As for fans, we just want to inspire others to experiment. We want to inspire others to create art and music even if they have no money. Tell them that they don’t have to sell out.

TL: Since this is your band’s tour, what are you going to do differently for fans live that you don’t normally do when opening for another band or in the studio?

JM: We just do what we’ve always done from the beginning, and keep the same formula. Always lots of visuals and DJ sets.

TL: What do you think about coming to Minneapolis?

JM: We’re excited about Minneapolis. I’ve heard it’s a neat town. We’ve never been there before, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.

The Beta Band plays Friday at the Fine Line Music Café (318 First Ave. N., Mpls. 612-338-8100). 8 p.m. $15. 21+.