Better Know an Artist (Vol 36): Stephen Beatty (of Un Chien)

Un Chien is a Fort Worth band with a sound owing debts to 90’s alt rock (a la Smashing Pumpkins) and modern psych rock (think Black Angels or Tame Impala). Bandleader Stephen Beatty (formerly of Stella Rose) assembled a talented band of respected local musicians (Rachel Gollay, Kris Knight, Jerrett Lyday, and Taylor Craig Mills), and set out to attain a more experimental sound with his music. After a self released EP in early 2013, they signed to Hand Drawn Records and issued an impressive self-titled debut album later that year. Their sophomore effort will be released later in 2016, but Stephen sat down to answer some questions while we wait.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

SB: I first got into music around 4th grade when we could join the school band. I played saxophone. Marty McFly was probably my main reason for wanting to play guitar (I watched Back to the Future at least once a day when I was a kid). Begged my mom to get me a guitar around 11 years old, got one for Christmas, and never stopped playing (or buying) them.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

SB: I usually just tell people, “Alt Rock” because I hate trying to describe my own music.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

SB: Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins were my gateway bands which opened me up to bands like Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Jesus Lizard. I love bands that balance chaos and noise with a good melody. I also respect the underground/punk mentality of bands like those. Brian Jonestown Massacre is another huge influence musically.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

SB: We have a song called “Amarillo” that’s going to be on our new record.  We’ve played it live a few times.  I was in a long-distance relationship (she live in Amarillo) that ended badly.  It’s about that.  Writing that song was my way of coping and closing that chapter of my life

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

SB: Dead: Nirvana, so I could see a Nirvana show
Alive: Queens of the Stone Age

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

SB: Jetta in the Ghost Tree

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

SB: Smashing Pumpkins “Gish”

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

SB: I love that everyone knows each other, I hate that everyone knows each other’s business. It feels like a big dysfunctional family.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

SB: Lola’s, because I’m OG.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

SB: umm, Un Chien, *wink wink

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

SB: I’m much, much nerdier than you’d probably think. I’ll leave it at that.

Many thanks to Stephen Beatty of Un Chien. I’m really looking forward to hearing new music from this talented batch of musicians with a pretty unique sound for the area. Check out Un Chien’s debut album below, and look out for the sophomore record later this year.

Photo Credit: Ronnie Jackson Photography

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Better Know an Artist (Vol 31): Kris Knight (Un Chien)

Un Chien is a fantastic psychedelic band out of Fort Worth, led by singer-songwriter Stephen Beatty, formerly of Stella Rose. The band also includes Kris Knight on keys, Jerrett Lyday on drums, Rachel Gollay on guitar and Taylor Craig Mills on bass. Their sophomore release, Where We Belong, is due later in the summer, but the debut single off of that record, “Amarillo”, drops tomorrow. I had keyboardist Kris knock out our usual slate of questions. If you haven’t voted yet, Un Chien is nominated for Best Rock Band in the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

KK: When I was 16, I saw the band, Ozma, open for Weezer on a national tour. They were maybe 17-18 years old at the time and I remember saying to my friends, “we could do that.” So we started a crappy high school band.

I got started with Un Chien when Beatty called me on a random Sunday morning and asked if I want to play keys.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

KK: For people in my parent’s generation or older, I describe it as a cross between Pink Floyd and when the Beatles started doing drugs and playing experimental songs. For the people my age or younger, I would compare us with the Black Angels or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

KK: Ozma and Weezer got me started. Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Zombies for just great pop rock writing and vocals. Radiohead, for their ability to adapt and always make beautiful creative songs.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

KK: On our first record, “A Heavy Hand”, is probably my favorite because playing it live , we all kind of let loose and really get into the emotions of the song at the end. On our upcoming record, “Where we Belong”, for really the same reasons.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

KK: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I think our music is similar enough to where we could gain a ton of fans.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

KK: Locally, Quaker City Night Hawks, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Holy Moly, and Jetta in the Ghost Tree are my favorites. I know those bands aren’t new, but I’ve been friends with their members forever and love listening to their music and seeing their success. Gollay and Mills & Co aren’t too shabby either. Also, check out Bear Ghost! Not local, but incredible.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

KK: [Radiohead’s] OK Computer

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

KK: Favorite would have to be the people. We are all working to do the same thing. My least favorite would have to be the middle man “booking”, taking money off the top, and doing zero promoting or trying to promote competing shows for the same night.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

KK: The Grotto or the Chat Room are my favorite places to play. No booking agent, just a hand shake with Carney or Cody. Everyone gets paid, gets drunk and has a great time.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

KK: Un Chien (duh)

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

KK: I’m completely self taught and play by ear. I don’t know what chords I am playing. I just play what sounds good.

Many, many, thanks to Kris for taking the time. Honestly, he popped this sucker out fast for me, so much appreciated. I really look forward to hearing the new material from one of my favorite Funkytown bands. You can catch up with them live at the Crown & Harp on June 27 with Cutthroat Finches, the Hollow Ends and Tawaine Noah. The new album drops later this summer, but for now, you can check out the first one and today’s new single, “Amarillo”, below.

Photo Credit: Ronnie Jackson Photography