Jilly Weiss, keyboardist/singer in We Are Hex, was attracted to Brandon Beaver's drumming from the beginning. "The first time I saw him play drums I wanted to start a band with him," Weiss says, who now considers Beaver her best friend.
Weiss and Beaver have now collaborated in one band or another for seven years, including the now-defunct Muncie-based art-rock band ari.ari. and their current project, the synth-rock quartet We Are Hex.
"We know each other's body language, so when we're in the middle of writing and a recording session, we know how to bounce back and forth ideas," Beaver says, phoning a week before the album release show for We Are Hex's debut full-length, Gloom Bloom
Weiss and Beaver founded We Are Hex in 2007 with former ari.ari. bandmate bassist Mark Tester and found themselves at something of a turning point in the spring of 2008, when Tester left the band to join the psych-rock outfit Sisters (joining another ari.ari. member Ryan Reidy).
Beaver says they didn't miss a practice, adding Trevor Wathen (former guitarist for Extra Blue Kind) on bass and Matt Hagan on guitar, thereby expanding the group to a quartet.
"We wanted to dedicate ourselves," Beaver says. "We pretty much have little to no life outside of the band, and we wanted that. We decided we should get a house, start buying recording gear, recording ourselves, finding a place we can record and live in."
Moving into Hex Haus
In the summer of 2008, all four band members moved into what they soon dubbed the Hex Haus in a dubious near-Southside neighborhood, though they haven't placed a sign to that effect out front because, as Beaver explains, "that would probably be some kind of advertisement for the neighbors to break in. It's already a gamble every day when we get home from work to see if there's a window broken out and everything has been stolen."
The new band began recording songs with an eye towards compiling a full-length that they intended to sound like a mixtape, "bouncing back and forth" between genres and tone, according to Beaver, without treading the same territory twice. Tracks were laid down on the front porch, in the basement and everywhere in between.
"We'd throw a mic up in the middle of the room, capture the song in its raw form, and later maybe polish it up a bit," Weiss says.
The band stresses productivity over potentially stultifying attempts at self-criticism or reflection: "We have tons of songs, and we will at some point try really hard to put everything we can out," Beaver says. "It's not so much a bad vs. good sort of thing: Everything we can make, we make."
Both Weiss and Beaver make more than music: She designed the cover art for Gloom Bloom
, a still life of berries smashed against lined notebook paper that suggests both sweetness (bloom, if you will) and gore (gloom), because, after all, smashed berries can make a bloody mess. Beaver is also a visual artist, and both Weiss and Beaver say they spend their non-work hours either creating band-related materials (music, posters, T-shirts) or handling administrative duties (Beaver was in the midst of booking a month-long West Coast tour the week before the release of Gloom Bloom
). Beaver says the new album is the band's baby, and much like raising a child, sustaining We Are Hex consumes a lot of time and energy.
"I don't even leave the house anymore," Weiss says. "I just wanna record and hang out with Matt and Brandon and Trevor and our millions of cats."