Beauty Pill on Their “Instant Night” Single and “Please Advise” EP | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Beauty Pill on Their “Instant Night” Single and “Please Advise” EP

Out of the Shadows

Dec 08, 2020 Photography by Morgan Klein Web Exclusive
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Chad Clark admits there’s a shadow over Beauty Pill’s latest EP. That’s likely to be true of anything he makes from here on out.

Earlier this year, Clark and his bandmate Erin Nelson released the Please Advise EP, the first release of any kind since the band’s widely-acclaimed Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are in 2015. That particular album made several year-end best of lists, turned heads of some of the most notable critics, and elevated Beauty Pill’s profile to new heights. It also explains the shadow.

“I made a record with my old band [Smart Went Crazy], which is called Con Art, and we actually reissued it as a 20th anniversary reissue,” Clark says. “The reissue sold out, which was cool, but that record was really revered in its time as a late ’90s record. For a long time, people told me, ‘Oh, you’ll never top this.’ I love that record a lot and it means a lot to me—all of it means a lot to me—but you hit these moments where you’re vibrating on some good ideas and you step up and deliver them. But I won’t deny that Describes Things casts a shadow.”

Clark says the positive feedback and resulting success was completely unexpected. As an artist, it’s clear that Clark wants to maintain some level of objectivity about his craft, but like anyone else, the validation felt nice.

“When we made it, I thought it would be an esoteric [thing],” he says. “I had no expectation of an audience for that record, but I was very encouraged the message essentially from everyone everywhere—from critics all over the place or friends—and it’s still not a famous record, by the way—was, ‘We like how bold this is. We like that it feels like music that’s moving forward.’ That part of the aspect was key to me.

“I love that record and I will always love that record. It means a lot to me that people really love that record. I don’t take it for granted. That’s what you want as a musician, for people to be engaged with the work and turned on by it. That’s what you want. However, at a certain point, I’m human and the acclaim felt a little overwhelming. It’s easy to get psyched out and start thinking, ‘I don’t know how to top this.’ I will always love that record and I’m glad we made it and I’m glad people like it.”

Clark’s newest single, “Instant Night,” follows the release of a “lost album” of sorts, a theatrical score entitled Sorry You’re Here and the aforementioned Please Advise EP—all in 2020. Clark describes “Instant Night” as Beauty Pill’s entry into the genre of protest music, although not in the way that you might think of it.

“I think there are a few common public misapprehensions about protest music,” says Clark. “Probably the most popular one is that protest music is intrinsically corny, topical, and dated. I don’t share this view. I value insinuation.

“I consider ‘Instant Night’ to be part of a continuum of ‘abstract dissent,’ a noble genre that requires you to feel as much as think—Fugazi’s ‘KYEO,’ Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power,’ Dylan’s ‘Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.’ I’m not so arrogant to suggest that ‘Instant Night’ is as great as those songs, but those are the spiritual models.

“Think about it: You can sing the chorus of ‘Fight the Power’ right now, but if I asked you what precisely that song is about, you’d be like, ‘Umm… uh… ,’ and that’s not your failure. It is a spiritual song. It’s a work of spirit, and everyone in 1963 understood ‘Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.’ Everybody knew it was about the Cuban missile crisis. But here’s the thing: He never actually mentions it once. Instead, the song is packed with weird lines like, ‘I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard…’ What the hell does that even mean? I don’t know either. But everyone felt it. It’s a spiritual song. It’s a piece of feeling. That’s the kind of work Beauty Pill is interested in: insinuation.”

Clark isn’t sure whether Beauty Pill fans will have to wait so long for more music, but what is clear is that there will be more.

“I feel like I don’t really have a choice about making music. I’ve tried to walk away from music. There’s a gap of 10 years from releasing any between The Unsustainable Lifestyle (2004) and the album that followed it. I was gone for a long time, but I don’t feel like I have any choice about it. I tried to quit and it didn’t take. In a way, it’s important to still feel alive, to still create and give in a positive way with the world, and I think art is a vital way of doing that.”

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