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SXSW ’07 PREVIEW: THE UGLY BEATS

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It’s hard to be in an ugly mood when The Ugly Beats are rocking local Austin clubs. The quintet formed in 2003 and was filling dance floors across Texas with a mix of chops, hooks and strong songs.

While Nuggets is an obvious influence, it is just a jumping-off point. The Beats throw in folk-rock mixes with the Ramones, Ventures and other like-minded funsters for an un-Beat-able combination on their 2005 debut album, Bring on the Beats! Guitarist/singer Joe Emery explains how the band is bracing for the annual SXSW invasion.
See The Ugly Beats during SXSW on March 16 on the Get Hip showcase at Habana Calle 6 Patio with the Cynics, Paul Collins Beat, the Mullens, Break-up Society and the Bad Rackets.

Medleyville: As a local Austinite, what’s your take on the festival taking over the town for a week?
Joe Emery: “We love having the town taken over. This thing is a blast. Even if just from the jaded perspectives of watching dork hipsters who take themselves way too seriously. If you really wanna have some fun at SXSW, get in the middle of a big crowd, then loudly announce to a friend that the guy from the Mars Volta is buying a beer, then watch all the dudes in white belts turn their heads toward the bar get a look! But seriously, it’s always great to meet new folks who are into music of all kinds the same way we are.

“We’re really lucky to be living in such a great city and have such great places to play and people to play to. We’ve had just one great show after another recently and we really appreciate people coming out to the shows and dancing.”

The Get Hip showcase is a great chance for The Ugly Beats and Mullens, two Texas bands that can’t tour often, to play for a different audience.
Emery: “We’re good friends with the Mullens and have played with them several times. Unfortunately this time we’re in the unenviable position of having to follow them onstage — first and last time we ever try that!

“It’d be great for those guys to sell a ton of records. They’re a great band. People that haven’t seen them play before will be blown away. Also, Matt Mayo is the sole reason why I spent three years seeking a Vox AC50 amp — his sounded so good I just had to have one of my own.”

The Ugly Beats have played some great SXSW shows in the past. Didn’t you play with Cyril Jordan of The Flamin’ Groovies one of these years?
Emery: “We did get to play on a bill last year that Cyril Jordan was a part of. Getting to meet Cyril was a huge thrill for me. I still have my autographed copy of Shake Some Action on display in my living room, and if you check our MySpace site, you’ll see a pic I had someone take of us right after he signed the record. Man, what a nice guy he is — total salt of the earth.”

The Ugly Beats had a succesful tour of Spain last year. Can you sum it up for us?
Emery: “Playing Spain was the most fun I’ve ever had playing music. Bands should have to pay fans to play there — it’s just that much fun. You can’t imagine what it’s like being thousands of miles from Austin in a tiny town on the Northwest coast of Spain in a jammed club, close with a 13th Floor Elevators tune and have a kid jump onstage and sing the entire song with you. They just go nuts for 60s garage music there.”

What can you tell us about the new record?
Emery: “The new record will be out very soon, but probably not by SXSW. We took forever to get it done, but we’re really, really happy with the way it turned out. It’s called Take a Stand with The Ugly Beats — a little more varied sound-wise than the first record. Some of the songs rock harder than anything on the first record, and there’s also some folkier-sounding stuff as well with acoustic guitars, and we even got (organist Jeanine Attaway) to do some singing on one tune.”

— By Joe Belock