Signals is Beloved Binge’s 6th studio release.
by E. Binge
After our last EP, Never, the end, instead of touring with our new release, like most bands would do, we did the opposite and went on a hiatus. We moved to NYC and played zero shows during our time there, despite this photo. Instead, we rented studio space in the (storied?) Music Building in the Garment District, where we wrote a bunch of songs about our distaste for NYC. After a year, we moved to Philly. I won’t say that we gave up on our band, but we were ready for something new (and gave up on our band).
Then, one night in July 2018, we played a West Philly house show at the (RIP) Sound Hole with our buds from Durham, Horizontal Hold, and a fab local band called Aspect Ratio. It was a fun show put on by our local booking bud from North Carolina, Jeff Blinder, who took us under his wing since we were new to Philly. At that show, a music major from Drexel, Matt, bought our 4th album, Pockets. A few months later, we ran into Matt and his friend at a Sales show (we’d played with Sales back in 2015 in Chapel Hill). There, we exchanged contact info & he wrote us offering to record us for free at Drexel. We didn’t just make an album, we made a friend…and in the meantime felt a renewed sense of connection with our own band by someone else believing so strongly in our material.
They say you shouldn’t care what other people think. Who are They anyway? We all care what people think. That’s the very base of our civilization and what motivates us to (attempt to) be “civilized.”
Song stories follow below.
So there we were, civilly participating in about seven recording sessions with Matt in various Drexel studios, all super high quality equipment and sound.
In the meantime, I bought a bass uke and changed my live set-up to stand-up drums with a tap shoe on a license plate for a snare alternative, in addition to a newly added tiny snare.
Here are a few stories about the songs you’ll find on our 6th studio release.
Nothing kills a party like a sudden death.
I’ve always thought of people you like or love dying similar (but more intensely felt, of course) to being at a good party where the fun guests have left … that feeling that, sure, there is a room there, with yourself and others; but the FUN people you want to hang out with and talk to are gone. That’s death.
Sure, these deaths can happen at any time. But as we near our mid-century mark we’re seeing more and more friends and friends of friends suddenly dying. In particular, sparking this song, there was the massed guitars creative genius innovator Andras Fekete, a kind-hearted man who treated us and others he worked with such respect and kindness. There were also other losses suffered by friends when their close friends died suddenly that were happening around the time this song was being written.
When my Dad died, I wondered what made him up – what made him the person he was? I concluded: His brain, a mix of genetics, chemicals, and experiences. The line, “Who took your mind?” is sort of rhetorical. But that’s what’s missing, who you are beyond your body.
The human cost of attempting to live privately in public spaces — ignoring everyone and ensuring minimal interaction — occurred to me one day on the uptown Subway when a man yelled in an angry voice “Excuse me! Hungry! Change!” then said everyone hated him when he was ignored. A woman quietly spoke to him, giving him $30 and said, “We don’t hate you.” He started crying. I tried not to. This man broke that space, the boundaries we erect. A large part of what this album is about is borders, the lines we don’t cross, demand others not cross, or contain others within (and ourselves without). Prisons, border walls, our bodies. (NeWest is about this specifically.)
Also in NYC, we saw a comic at the Comedy Underground who said he had to be careful who he hangs out with, because he probably only has about 30 summers left. Though I think about the end and try to live as if it’s around the corner at any time, it was still startling to hear it quantified in this way. I also pulled in a little bit of Zorba the Greek’s meditation on whether an old man should plant a garden because he should live as if he’ll live forever, or if he should not plant the garden because he could die tomorrow and won’t see the fruits of his labors.
It’s all math.
With most of these songs, we’re looking at life through the lens of our years, certainly. It gets better (and worse). Both are true.
Manifest destiny, that idea that “we” should keep expanding westward. And the ruin that followed. I propose a new West. One that questions both plundering and borders, keeping us in and out — this idea was directly from author Isabela Wilkerson, specifically her monumental work The Warmth of Other Suns. I write about it here. I also remembered the childhood desire to keep friends out when you were mad at them. This is MY YARD. Fenced in. Kind of stuck in there, though, alone, with all my friends on the other side of the fence. This song also equates borders to bodies, those boundaries of our bodies that our government is attempting to control through capturing them and dictating their destinies with anti-abortion measures. Of control over bodies, I’ve also thought a lot about our criminal justice system, the disproportionate imprisonment of people of color, the new slavery. How prisons, factory farms, anything with bars that forces a moving being into confinement, are all part of the same intersected oppression engine that we can ignore due to it being hidden and the result being cheap/convenient labor, products, or food.
W 154th Street
“Trapped in this winter phase.” Winters in NYC were tougher than the rest of the year, except when the first snowfall blanketed all the concrete. Rob wrote this songs about surviving a space only by virtue of another person as life preserver in a sea of trash, noise, and endless activity. I also bought him some headphones to block out the noise with podcasts.
If you’ve ever lost a fur-face, this song is for you. This song speaks to the bond: “Didn’t we laugh and chase ideas?” Maybe you didn’t speak human language together, but you spoke heart. Our fur-face, Syba, a Husky-Shepherd, lived just past 17 years, an extraordinarily long life.* She was running and jumping, climbing our stairs until the end. Her mirror obsession began in year 15 (“Only your smudges remain in the mirror.”) The lyrics at the end are a song we used to sing to her while walking, which never failed to make her pick up the pace (“Left paw, right paw, front paw, back…”).
* We attribute her longevity to lots of exercise, play, fresh veggies in addition to vegan kibble [Nature’s Recipe and/or Natural Balance], and some crazy DNA. Maybe it was going out to bars and partaking in small portions of beer/booze on numerous tours. It was awhile before we could play this song and not cry. I’m still not sure.
Insomnia! Ironically written by Rob, who has more of a sleep apnea than insomnia. It is I, Eleni Binge, who is the insomniac, listening to Beloved’s snoring!
Storage Shed Patriot
We once shared a storage shed with our pals in the band from Durham, NC Drug Yacht. Their decorating was impeccable, and we pulled the lyrics from both objects and words around the space. There were a lot of classic references in the space. #SorryNotSorry was an additional flourish.
This song has been kicking around our sets for awhile.
You might call me a quitter, cause I keep going, but I’m a boat and canoes are for rowing, so I move on…
I’m not a fitter, you can’t keep me … stuck in jail securely, doin’ time…
These both have been patterns and themes in my own life — not sticking to something or wanting to maintain it. Careers, activism — I prefer the project-based (But adventure-positive!) work. Similarly, working in an office or from a cube feels like jail to me, it always has. I’ve always plotted my escape(s). Except for now that I’m working part-time, I’ve found a good balance: Retirement is no longer the goal.
Having a panic attack in a city you can’t really reason with, but try to anyway. Did I tell you that Rob was a background actor in NYC? So he got to have panic attacks all over the island.
When we moved to NYC, it was a years-long dream and I was super excited to experience it. I thought of the movie Beat Street, the artists Keith Haring or Patti Smith, the movie Annie Hall, and even Sesame Street (My mother, when I said the latter: “Oh, honey, you didn’t really think it would be like Sesame Street?!”) But despite the warnings I’d received, and items I’d read, I was surprised that today’s NYC was not that of the 70s and 80s. I wrote extensively about that in a post here.
The Bottoms” is the name (by locals) of the part of Harlem we lived — more specifically down 110 steps from the Sugar Hill area. The bottom.
First, to “48-track” Matt Squires for finding us and coaxing us out of hiatus with his enthusiasm for our band. We would not have made this album if we had not met. Thanks to Drexel University for providing an opportunity for students to record local bands on first-class gear. Of course, we would not have met Matt if it weren’t for Jeff Blinder booking us (and welcoming us to PA) or our buds Horizontal Hold for asking us to play the show for their tour.
Tom from SI studios for always doing a fabulous job mastering our albums.
Finally, thanks to you, unknown artist, whose painting we found curbside ready for trash pick up one rainy night while celebrating the album completion with Matt. He took your art home and painted on it with his friend who just turned 21, but we used the original found version.
Thanks to Jane S. who took our photos out in the back of the post office.
Thanks to all of you for buying our album, listening, and coming out to shows. It means the world to us!