Ever since SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE released their self-titled debut in 2014, they’ve developed a reputation for being your favorite band’s favorite band. Theirs is the music of immersion, of confrontation, the kind that makes a listener stop and wonder, “How are they even doing that?” And as the years wear on, that sense of bafflement has made room for SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE to quietly but steadily ascend, with their most recent album, 2018’s Hypnic Jerks, leaving them poised on the precipice of wider recognition.
On April 9th, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE will release their fourth album and Saddle Creek debut, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH. The album signals new chapters for the band on multiple fronts, being the first to feature their new three-piece lineup, as well as the first to be entirely self-recorded and produced. Guitarist/vocalist Zack Schwartz and bassist/vocalist Rivka Ravede are now joined by new member Corey Wichlin, a multi-instrumentalist who relocated from Chicago to the band’s home territory of Philadelphia last year. In the spring of 2020, the trio began to write their new album at a distance by emailing files back and forth. “The process of making this album was basically the exact opposite of our experience creating Hypnic Jerks,” Schwartz explains. “We had to record that in seven days, because that was the studio time we had, whereas ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH was made over the course of three, four months.”
An abundance of time wasn’t the only difference. Recording remotely offered the band an incentive to experiment with new possibilities for their sound, resulting in an album that is unlike any SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE has released before. Once the band finished recording and mixing the album digitally, they mastered it to tape, lending the collection a textured, dimensional quality. “We knew we wanted to use some new instrumental elements on this album,” Wichlin says. “We're not going fully electronic,” Schwartz adds, “But guitar, bass, drums just get kind of monotonous.”
Though ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH doesn’t cohere in a single, unifying theme, the band samples old obscure commercials throughout, many of which guided the process of writing a song instead of serving as an appendage. Schwartz describes his songwriting process as a stream-of-consciousness, while Ravede asserts that she doesn’t typically write vocal parts with any specific intention in mind. “When I write, the narrative usually doesn’t present itself until after the song is done. And even then, it depends on how the listener interprets the words,” she reflects. Regardless of how dreamlike SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE’s lyrics can be, reality rears its head throughout ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH.
The album isn’t a metamorphosis, it’s simply the newest iteration of a longstanding project. “There’s a line in the Bee Gees documentary that I think applies to us. I’ll paraphrase: ‘We may not have always connected, but we always stuck around,’” Ravede says. Schwartz jumps in, “SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE: we’re still here.”
written and performed by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
produced and mixed by zack schwartz and corey wichlin
mastered by andy clarke
cover artwork by rivka ravede
insert artwork by nico trevizo
design & layout by corey wichlin