Schrader and Devlin Rice in hyper conversation
“What I love about Frasier…” Ed Schrader explains as I attempt a well-timed interjection, “is you have different voices playing out these plots.” He rapidly continues: “The dad’s a rugged salt of the earth guy, Frasier’s the posh egomaniac and then Niles is more Beta.” Schrader’s now at one hundred mph. “I feel like they are all playing out different aspects of an argument that I am having in my head,” he finishes with a ta-dah.
“The thing is, you’re going to have to fight to get some words in. He will just keep talking,” long time friend Devlin Rice tells me, as Schrader pours another cup of coffee from his Baltimore kitchen. “Oscar Wilde said ‘we are multitudes’ but I digress, it’s always good to relate to the young audience by making Oscar Wilde jokes.”
There are multiple warnings from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat about the length of our discussion but nothing prepares me for the psychological dissection of Frasier within minutes of starting. “My birthday was a week ago,” says Schrader. “Mr. Dan Deacon gave me three different Frasier sweatshirts, one has the dog Eddie on it, another has the logo and the last one has Frasier wearing a very nice cardigan, probably taken in early Frasier and Cheers crossover days.”
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat are a provocative post-punk duo (comprised of Schrader on vocals and Rice on bass) who released two visceral full lengths in ‘Jazz Mind’ (2012) and ‘Party Jail’ (2014). In the years since they’ve added Baltimore’s own Dan Deacon as Producer and created their new album ‘Riddles’. Now they are a trio of Frasier super-fans and comfortable in their new skin. “We went in with a bunch of material, which would have been a logical follow up to ‘Party Jail’, says Rice. “We are proud of both records but it felt like we wanted to push ourselves to see what we could do sonically.”
“I got to the point where I thought, well I could bang on a drum and yell ‘Rats!’ for the next 15 years or maybe challenge myself a little bit,” says Schrader. “I feel like the early records are this big ink-well and you’re scrawling images on the cave wall but with ‘Riddles’ we took out the felt tip pen and we wrote the constitution, we tattooed it on Dan Deacon’s back.”
The result is a remarkable album by three friends determined to break new ground. With Deacon on board for his first project in this role they’ve created a rich textural landscape far beyond their previous work full of beautifully dense pop songs that are still enjoyably off-centre. “That’s true,” Rice says, “this process really brought out abilities which we haven’t been able to tap into before. You see Ed at karaoke and he’s normally burning the house down…” He laughs as Schrader croons away in the background. “Don’t go breaking my heart,” he gladly sings before explaining, “I look forward to the studio as most people would look forward to the dentist but Dan made it feel like home – we were literally in his home.
“Dan would get me to sing a song I was familiar with so he’d say how about Police’s ‘Tea in the Sahara’, which is a really trippy song where Sting is singing about a mythical figure, so I would keep singing that over and over, then he’d shout OK change the words, now change the tone, now just get rid of the words and hum, now think of something red, now something blue, it was like What about Bob?, you know?”
“Dan was Richard Dreyfuss,” laughs Rice.