We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

Beauty Pill fans and me

It’s Tuesday afternoon at Artisphere, and Beauty Pill is advancing the song “When Cornered” from Beatles circa 1967 (frontman Chad Clark‘s demo of the song is rich in sitar-like sounds and “Lucy in the Sky” lilt) to Beatles circa 1968. Specifically: a layered guitar line that’s poppy and hyper-chromatic and heavy and messy. It also contains a moment the band is referring to as “the Metallica chord.”

Clark returns from a coffee run to lay down his guitar track. He’s wearing sunglasses. So is Drew Doucette. “It can be our thing,” he says. “We need a thing.” Pretty soon, so are Basla Andolsun and Jean Cook. They don’t seem to mind that Artisphere’s Black Box Theatre is, in fact, a very black box. “The birth of a thing!” Clark says.

After Clark records his part, the band plays back his original sketch of “When Cornered.” “That’s what happens when you record at four in the morning, and you imagine you are Paul McCartney.”

Abram Goodrich is trying to find the right reverb-y clavichord sound, Devin Ocampo is working out a powerhouse drum part, and the band slips into the kind of record-nerd back-and-forth that’s become common during these sessions.

“It’s very Power Station,” Ocampo says of his drum part.

“That’s not where we want to land,” laughs Clark, who then starts singing the chorus from “In a Big Country,” by Big Country.

“I’m pretty sure it’s the same drummer”—-an old session dude, says Ocampo.

Clark comes up to me and, chuckling, makes sure to stress that Ocampo and Goodrich are not wearing sunglasses, and that this is an important detail.

Goodrich finishes his keyboard line. “That shit is like total space,” he says.