The Beating sounds like no other band in the Old Pueblo, but its eclectic mix of styles and tastes epitomizes all that makes Tucson's music scene great.
Its fabulous diversity and inexplicable energy, which stems from the players' amazing chemistry, combine effortlessly to create a seamless blend of auditory enjoyment.
So, who do they rip off the most?
That's a tough question. Ask any one of them their favorite band and they probably in turn would ask, "In what style?"
Violinist/fiddler Katie Abendroth, aka Bad Kitty, describes her taste as "eclectic as they come. I have a five-disc CD changer, which will hold a piano concerto, Ani DiFranco, techno, some pop and maybe Incubus."
Drummer Vikas Pawa, who is also front man for local band Fez, views Beating's sound as a "weird hybrid of different styles. It's total schizophrenia. No one can pay attention to one thing."
They may not be able to pay attention to one thing, but they sure know how to pay attention to each other on stage. These kids can read each other like nobody's business, which is good--essential--considering the six of them collectively play about 20 different instruments on stage at various times. Train wreck? Hell, no!
Lead guitarist, keyboardist, singer and sequencer Brandon Williams--aka Onan--attributes this to the band's patience and maturity. "The strength lies in the sum of the parts. It's not any one element."
Bad Kitty also believes it is because "everyone in the band is a good musician, knows their instrument and is comfortable and confident."
The Beating incorporates elements of rock, pop, traditional, soul, new wave and electronica/techno/dance.
According to bassist J.J. Weber, aka Agent Jethro, the Beating also takes on the sound of "tongue-in-cheek hillbilly angst."
It's true. Listen to the song "Vee-Ate" and you'll know what he's talking about.
It's a foot-stompin', hillbilly-rockin' tune that will remind you of the movie Deliverance. Ah, but the musical fun doesn't stop on the banks of a Tennessee river. Another song begins with Onan working his wah wah pedal as the girls bust into a disco dance while the laptop kicks in with a techno beat. Suddenly, you're ground back at the bar shaking your groove thang.
"To play in a band that can switch from hillbilly to techno in under a minute is truly sublime," Jethro said.
The unifying factor of the Beating seems to be Onan and Agent Jethro. The two met in Prescott as kids and have played in bands together over the last 10 years.
Jethro, 27, said they met in fifth grade, adding, "which we were in for a few years."
It's possible they were held back in elementary school, but not likely, considering that Jethro has two bachelor's degrees and Onan, 28, recently graduated from law school.
Onan and Jethro may be the unifyers, but the vocals and stage presence of singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist Kim Howell--aka Siren--is the nucleus of the band.
Her voice drew the band to her like sailors to the Sirens.
Jethro tells it thusly:
"We were lucky enough to stumble upon our singer, who was dating a friend of ours at the time. We heard she could sing and play guitar, but skepticism is the brand of underwear Brandon sports. He heard her at karaoke doing 'Son of a Preacher Man' and knew we had to make her our queen."
The Beating picked up Vikas on drums after playing its second show at The Biz. Fez opened for the Beating that night.
"When I saw them, I thought, 'Siren's voice is amazing,'" Vikas recounted. "I told them: 'You guys have good songs and the drummer isn't doing her justice.'"
Shortly thereafter, the four recorded their EP at Vikas's home studio.
The first song, "Twilight," is aptly described in their press release as a mix of Radiohead and Conway Twitty. "Vee-Ate" is the aforementioned hillbilly tune that totally rocks. "All This and Nothing," written by Siren, draws you into the dark, lonely void of heartbreak. There is also a beautiful rendition of Concrete Blonde's "Joey" that stays true to the original form.
The EP was the catalyst for the entrance of 21-year-old percussionist Silas Hite, the Satin Cowboy, into the band.
"I was at a party and they played the demo," he said. "I was like, 'Oh shit! I have to figure out how to get into this band.'"
Bad Kitty, 21, was drawn into the mix when she saw Siren during a reportedly arousing version of "I Touch Myself" at a karaoke bar. She said she introduced herself to Siren because "she fit the image of someone who could be a great front woman--sexy, confident, with a phenomenal voice."
The Beating may be the first band the 22-year-old singer has been in, but she does it like a pro.
"Just watching great performers has always made me want to get up there. After I got past that whole stage-fright-vomiting thing, I get up there every chance I get," she said.
It is apparent that the band loves playing together. Every member of the band highly praises the talent of the others and is genuinely enthusiastic. The unity of the Beating also stems from the fact that they all participate in creating the songs.
"The songs that I write usually start on my guitar," Siren explained. "I'll collaborate with Brandon first, and then everyone else. Everyone offers ideas and, for the most part, writes their own instrumentation."
Together for less than a year, the six-member lineup is currently recording a full-length album that they expect to put out by the end of October. This week they are releasing a single titled "Sensational.