The first thing you’re going to notice on “Bad Form,” the new album by a group of S.C. and N.C. musicians called Beket, is the guitars. Rather than just trafficking in pure noise, Beket guitarists Ethan Taylor and Preston Keepfer have sculpted their layers of six-strings into cresting waves of sound that rise and fall around the album’s nine songs, either buoying Taylor’s vocals or suddenly falling away, leaving him in stark silence. The sound these guys have created on those dueling six-strings is so epic that it’s stunning to find out they did most of this in Keepfer’s home studio.
The second thing you’re going to notice is how truly desperate Taylor’s vocals are. He seems to be shredding his voice on every song, but it’s not a metal-style howl; it’s a nakedly vulnerable cry of pain. If music is meant to be a way to exorcise one’s demons, it’s hard not to think that Taylor is doing that here.
His lyrics tend to bear out that idea; the very first line on the album, on a track called “The Thieves,” is “I’ve been having such terrible thoughts,” and from that point he seems to unravel in real time, spilling out self-doubt, inward-looking anger, and fear so fervently that it’s a visceral experience for the listener.
It’s difficult to imagine a largely home-recorded album sounding more well-crafted than this, and that’s probably because it’s taken Beket two years to make it.
“It took a really long time,” Taylor says with a laugh. “Not just figuring out not just the basic stuff like lyrics and melody but also figuring out how things should flow together and what the vibe of each song would be. I wanted to try to make sure each song has something that surprises you.”
As I mentioned before, Taylor and Keepfer took special care with the sound of the guitars.
“Preston’s just a guitar wiz,” Taylor says of his friend and lead guitarist. “He cares about guitar tones, and we were able to spend days and days on how each guitar would sound. I actually bought a baritone guitar [a larger, heavier version of a guitar that can be tuned to a lower pitch] just for the record, to be able to make a really great sound.”
Once the guitars and bass parts (played by Jesse Horne) were laid down, the band decided to record Drake Kent’s explosive drum parts at Greenbriar Studio in Spartanburg with producer/engineer Jay Arrington. The final piece of the puzzle came when Beket brought in producer Travis Hill (of the Atlanta band Microwave) for mixing.
“Working with Travis was an integral part of making this record,” Taylor says. “He’s a producer I respect, and I loved his mixes, so I reached out to him and went down to Atlanta and showed him the songs. He understood what we were going for.”
It wasn’t an easy process, but Taylor says that the wait was worth it, even if it didn’t seem that way at times.
“Preston and Drake were really helpful in convincing me that we were going to sit on it until it was right,” he says. “I’m incredibly happy that we took that long, because I’m proud of it, and that’s not something I normally feel.”
Beket will play an album-release show May 23 at the Radio Room in Greenville, with The Apartment Club and Blessed Harm opening the show.