On November 24th, 2002, I found refuge from the windy city’s cold and snowy weather inside the Metro, where I was able to talk with Avail’s infamous “dancer”, Beau Beau. Though everybody was tired, Beau Beau had some good stories and seemed to have enough energy to tell me all about the band, touring, and to even accuse me of stealing music. The Virginian punk band’s newest album has been entitled “Front Porch Stories”, which was released with Fat Wreck Chords. Avail’s stop in Chicago was part of their US tour with Hey Mercedes.
Kat: Tell us a little bit about how your band first came to be.
Beau Beau:We all came from 80’s hair bands. [Bands like] Stryper and this German band [called] Scorpions. We’re all from other bands and we decided that we were tired of going on the road and having buses and airplanes and stuff. So we just decided to start some punk band. I’m a habitual smartass by the way. In case your curious about that, if that first answer wasn’t smartass enough. We were just a bunch of kids in high school, basically, all from different bands. Then one band would dissolve or somebody would leave another band and it just kind of came together. We were in Northern Virginia for a couple of years. That’s where we started, hanging out in Richmond as bands, and that’s when we considered actually doing stuff. We had a couple demos out, we played a few basement shows and garage shows, shit like that.
Kat: So you wanted to do it [the band thing] for real.
Beau Beau: Well we didn’t really want to do it for real, but we decided we wanted to move. That was our focus [at the time], the band.
Kat: How long have you been touring for?
Beau Beau: We’ve been touring about ten, twelve years. We’ve been [to] a few places.
Kat: Has it been the same members the entire time?
Beau Beau: No, we had a revolving door of bass players for a while. Gwomper is the newest bass player, and he’s been in for four or five years. Pretty much, this is the lineup. Ed obviously is the newer drummer; he’s been in for a couple years, too. Me, Tim, and Joe, since we were in Richmond, have always been in the band. Joe’s the only original member, but if you tell him that, he just acts like he’s a lot older than he is.
Kat: Why did people leave the band?
Beau Beau: Some people were idiots, and decided to leave. Some people were idiots and decided that we no longer wanted them in the band, basically. Like the Wolly Mammoth.
Kat: Where did you come up with the name Avail?
Beau Beau: We were actually dubbed Avail by the duke of Archberries. We wanted something positive, and we looked it up in the dictionary.
Kat: What does it mean?
Beau Beau: To Avail, to prosper, to finish, to solve. If you use it in a sentence, it would be like “They tried to do something, but to no avail.” It’s positive, because when we decided we were going to try and pick a name, it was when there was all the revelation stuff coming out and stuff, and everybody was super posi-core like youth group, big X’s. All of us were sober. We didn’t want to be a straight edge band because none of us were straight edge, just sober.
Kat: Do you drink now?
Beau Beau: Yeah, we all partaketh of the alcoholic beverages.
Kat: What inspired the music and the lyrical approach for your newest album, “Front Porch Stories”?
Beau Beau: It sounds silly but there’s no real inspiration to go off of. We kind of go off of hanging out and playing music together. That’s what we do. Then something kind of happens. The song “Subdue and Arrested”, I don’t know if you know it from the record, its says [sings a line from the song], its one of the last songs…
Kat: I tried downloading some of your music…
Beau Beau: Ah, stealing the music! Stealing the music! Not buying the music, stealing the music here! You heard it first!
Kat: I looked for it! It wasn’t at the store.
Beau Beau: Uh-huh. Okay, but by [the time we came up with] that one song, we were done with the record. We had all the songs, and Joe was like, “Eh, we should have a song that is super old gray matter good DC rock punk”. It was like rock punk, because rock and roll bands can also be punk. And he had [started with playing] something, and our drummer Ed [started playing], and our vocalist came in, and that’s how the song started. That’s how we wrote it. We’re like, “Alright, lets have a fast song”, and then usually we end up writing a slow song. Then well be like, “Let’s try to write a slow song”, and we’ll end up writing a fast song. So the inspiration is what happens in our little lives. I mean, that and to make a million dollars.
Kat: Do you think your songs reflect the way your life is going at the time you’re writing it?
Beau Beau: Totally, totally. We’ve been saying for a while it’s like a big journal entry. Especially lyrically. You can tell where we are in our lives by the music that we’re playing. It sounds silly because sometimes people think when you get older, you slow down a little bit. It seems like since we’re getting older we’re actually getting a little faster.
Kat: When did you actually the start the band?
Beau Beau: I think I was 16, so about 15 years ago. Give or take.
Kat: A while ago.
Beau Beau: Yeah, we’ve been around for a while. We’re old and jaded.
Kat: What did you like about having Bryan Paulson produce this album?
Beau Beau: He is so right on, a good guy, hangs out, [and] he’ll go out and have drinks with us. He immediately became one of the family, because we’re really family oriented. We’re like, “Okay you’re a roadie, and now you’re a roadie for all life!” He is now part of Avail. We’re all “Yeah, okay, Bryan’s coming, awesome!” and everybody gets stoked.
Kat: So you adopted him into the family.
Beau Beau: Yeah, he’s really fucking good at what he does. He’s really really good. And he’s worked with so many other bands [and] we were really stoked on their recordings and stuff like that. We were a little tentative because we worked with Mark Miley on the last few records. We thought, “Well, what are we gonna to do.” So we came up and we wanted to just see how it [a recording session] went. We did the first day, and we started doing sounds. We thought, “Oh man, that’s awesome”. I think sonically and production wise this record is by far the best one we’ve ever done.
Kat: What about musically?
Beau Beau: Musically, it’s like trying to compare your babies. Your children…like which kid do you like most.
Kat: So they’re all good, just in different ways.
Beau Beau: Right, now my new favorite is of course, this one [Front Porch Stories]. But I like them all as a whole.
Kat: What overall effect do you aim to have on the listeners who hear your newest album?
Beau Beau: [As a band], we always leave the lyrics open ended, kind of vague. So you get what you get out of it. Ultimately we want people to enjoy it. If they enjoy it emotionally or by relating to lyrics, that’s awesome. [If enjoying it means] just being able to go out and have a good time and drive 100 mph listening to songs, that’s awesome too. Me personally, I just want people to have fun. The album’s awesome, and I just want people to be able to come to the shows and goof off, because that’s basically all I do.
Kat: Who are your favorite bands to tour with and why.
Beau Beau: Pretty much every band we’ve ever toured with [have been] our favorite bands. [When] we go out on tour with somebody, [they] immediately become family. Some shit constantly; we’ve even gone out with bands that I’ve musically hated. But we are like, “Okay fine”, and I get outvoted. After a week and a half, they are my favorite band. As a matter of fact, I have this friend Daron, who owns this record label, who used to be in this horrible, horrible, horrible-
Daron: At least they made the record label!
Beau Beau: Hell no! Horrible band. That’s the owner. [The guy Beau is referring to, Daron, just walked by] He was in a horrible band. His band sucked. He’d sing, [and] he was horrible, but I loved them.
Kat: Some of those bands that suck so bad are so good though.
Beau Beau: Yeah, like we toured with Snapcase, and we were total friends with them for years. We got along before, and [when] we toured we were all together and bonded. That was awesome. Lagwagon are some of our best friends in the world. We don’t really have a favorite, persay.
Kat: So everybody has gotten pretty close.
Beau Beau: Yeah, if you go out and tour with bands, then they become part of your family so to speak. If we just play with bands, and we meet them that night, sometimes we actually end up liking them a lot. Case of point being Dillinger 4. We played with Dillinger 4 right when they started with their first handful of shows. We were like, “These guys are fucking awesome!” It took us a long time to actually go on tour with Dillinger 4. We don’t really have a favorite, we like bands that goof off a lot and drink. Those are our favorites.
Kat: What are your regards towards these mainstream punk and emo bands that flood the radio and MTV?
Beau Beau: As a band answer, more power to them. If that’s what they want to do, [then] awesome, good for you. Me personally, I don’t consider any of those bands punk.
Kat: Would you never consider doing music videos or anything?
We have, because of Fat [Wreck Chords]. Fat has this video comp that comes out; we make videos for that. We’ve made two videos, and they basically went straight to VHS. [They] just got put out with Lagwagon and NoFX. We have no interest in sending them into MTV, MTV2, The Box, or MuchMusic. [But] if Mike or Vanessa or anybody from Fat says “Hey we’re going to send this into The Box”, then cool. If they want to do it, then whatever. It’s not something we’re shooting for. We’re not shooting to be the next Dashboard Confessional, or MTV2 New Music award winner. We’re too ugly to do that. [Laughs] I mean, could you imagine me walking upstage like “Thanks for the new award!” We’re too abrasive for that.
Kat: The next Blink182…
Beau Beau: We’ve toured with Blink at Warped [Tour], and they were fucking great guys.
Kat: Have you really? Was it before they blew up?
Beau Beau: It was right as they were blowing up, and they were really good guys.
Kat: Which Warped did you play at?
Beau Beau: I don’t remember. We played two of them. But we only played ten days to two and a half weeks, because it’s a brutal tour if you don’t have a tour bus. We don’t have a tour bus, so it’s brutal.
Kat: What do you tour in then?
Beau Beau: The van out in front, that’s out van. We bought it for 150 bucks.
Kat: That’s got to be horrible.
Beau Beau: It’s actually not bad. We probably spent about $200 redoing the inside, so it’s pretty comfortable. I mean, granted it’s seven people for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours, so you get to smell everybody’s feet. It’s fun.
Kat: Do you have a tour bus in your future or do you get to stay in the van?
Beau Beau: [The van], the Ramones did it. The Ramones did it until they broke up, always in a van.
Kat: Do you like being in the big tours like Warped tour or the smaller one like the one you’re on now?
Beau Beau: Both. If you play shows like Warped Tour shows every day, that’s going to get fucking boring. It just turns into a routine. Okay, here’s the seven-foot high stage, here’s a five-foot barricade, it’s seven feet away from the stage, there’s fifteen thousand people out there, yadi-yadi-yada. You do that enough, you just get jaded. That’s what music and rock and roll is all about, you just get jaded doing it. So then we get to come back, like [to] the place we played last night, the Agora Theater. Granted it’s a bigger venue, but its not. It has like five hundred people capacity. Everybody gets to goof off, [and] I love it.
Kat: You need people to be up to the stage, it must be hard with the barricade there.
Beau Beau: That’s the way it works, and sometimes you have to deal with it. Usually either me and/or Tim go out into the crowd, so we just don’t pay attention to the barricades.
Kat: Do you stage dive or just walk out there?
Beau Beau: Both. It’s just what we feel like doing. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just goof off, sometimes we sit in a chair.
Kat: Being on tour, do you have any exceptionally entertaining road stories that you can share?
Beau Beau: One of the first times we came here, to Chicago, we played at the Fireside Bowl. We hadn’t been around for that long, we hadn’t been on tour for that long, and eight hundred people showed up at the fireside. We were like “holy shit!” It was probably about seven years ago when there was that crazy heat wave, and it was like 118 [degrees]. It was just fucked up. It was so hot, so retarded, so ridiculous. Three bands played before us, and I remember being so hot and so sweaty that I couldn’t focus on anything. We started playing, and after the second song it was so hot, I completely lost my mind. I had no idea what was going on, and I thought we were done. The second song, I was like, “Oh, are we done?” I thought I heard Tim say, “This is our last song”. I was like, “woah…” So we ended up playing another fifteen songs. I’m totally delirious, totally dehydrated, sucking down water, pouring it all over me. Then I remember we stopped, people were passing out while we were playing and it was retarded. Our drummer at the time, after the last song, passed out and fell off his throne. I had to walk out into the lane, and I was so retarded that I remember sitting there, laying there. I think all I had on at that point were my underwear and my tennis shoes. I was all “Oh god” and I remember feeling like I was going to vomit. Then, I threw up and I pissed myself all at the same time. In the middle of the bowling alley. That was a good story.
Kat: With all the audience there.
Beau Beau: With everybody there. We were like, “Thanks, go outside, cool off, drink water”, and I remember I just walked off and colapsed. Just lost it. That was a good one.
Kat: For Avail, is the glass half empty or half full?
Beau Beau: Depends on who you talk to in the band. If you’re talking to me, it’s just half a glass. It depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I’m just like, “This fucking sucks. Everything sucks. It’s not even half full it’s totally empty”.
Kat: Do you still get all energetic before you go on?
Beau Beau: Oh yeah, I still get butterflies [and] all that stuff. It never really goes away. If it goes away, then you need to stop doing it. There’s nothing like being on a stage, whether it’s a foot high or ten feet high. Whether its ten people, or a hundred people, or a thousand people, and they’re screaming and going “Yes!” That’s the best thing. That’s better than sex, better than anything. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Kat: What is Corntooth?
Beau Beau: Corntooth is Ed’s other band. Ed plays drums, in a country band, basically. [It has] male and female singers.
Kat: So it’s a real band.
Beau Beau: Oh yeah, it’s a full-blown band. They just played three weeks ago, two shows up in New York. They drink like they are a country band in that respect. They start, and they’re be drinking all day. And they’ll be just like, “Let’s go play”. They’ll play their set, but they’ll be so drunk, goofing off and having a good time.
Kat: Does Ed have trouble balancing his times between the two bands?
Beau Beau: He has trouble balancing his time in general. He is the kid who is forever late; forever [has] too much shit on his plate. Here’s another good one [story], and it explains Ed in a nutshell. It was his first show with us in New York City. We played the Wetlands; there were a few thousand people there. We’re setting up on stage, [and] we can’t find Ed. We set up his drums, Tim makes sure they’re all right and gets all the microphones, no Ed. As we’re doing this, I’m like, fuck, so I call Ed on his phone. I’m like, “Ed, what are you doing?” He was about three metra stops away, in a café, drinking coffee and reading a book. He was just like “Oh shit, sorry”. It was really cold, and he had to run back.
Kat: Did he forget or just have no sense of time?
Beau Beau: He’s just habitually late and habitually goofy like that. [Once] we ended up calling him and he freaked out, we stalled for about ten minutes. He got there, and just kicked off one shoe. He was playing in long johns and a hood. That’s Ed’s deal. He’s a retard.
Kat: Is there anything else you would like to say before we close this interview?
Beau Beau: I can’t think of anything, except hopefully Manchester United will actually start playing again this year and be good this year, but I’m not holding my breath on that. It’s soccer, English soccer. [I’m a] huge English soccer fan.
Special Thanks to: Beau Beau from Avail Vanessa at Fat Wreck Chords for arranging this interview Erica for driving in the snow Halls cough drops for reviving my voice