Beast Jesus is a post-hardcore band based out of metro Manila, Philippines. The band is known for its off-kilter, "ass end of the internet" aesthetic—drawing influence from web culture, dark humor, and exaggerated retro nostalgia with bizarre references to music-based subculture, art history, cult cinema, and contemporary Filipino kitsch.
The song "Corpse Medicine" traverses territories—vintage tones and textures of Mezcal Head-era Swervedriver and seminal screamo skree the likes of Antioch Arrow and Saetia. Just how does this work? Press play and go back to the future:
Released today, the full four-song EP, In Various States of Disassembly, is available on Bandcamp and MediaFire. Here's some additional insight from Beast Jesus vocalist, guitarist, programmer, electronics, and noise-monger, Francis Maria Regalado.
You've decided to release the debut Beast Jesus EP, In Various States of Disassembly, for free. What were the overriding decisions to move in this direction, and do any relate to experience spent in previous musical endeavors?
We started playing in bands sometime in the mid-2000s, where internet connections were getting faster and entire communities were forming around people who shared out of print records from bands who no longer exist. We're looking at this whole thing through the lenses of people who grew up in that context. A lot like punk or hardcore, it was an environment driven by content and communication, and we're doing our part to keep things going by being content creators ourselves.
Since so much of that experience revolves around downloading stuff for free through blogs or peer-to-peer networks, we decided it would only be fair for us to offer everything we do for free on the internet forever. We've taken from others, so here's our stuff, too. For everyone. This is a theme we carried over from our previous band, Caitlyn Bailey.
This whole thing with digital media is super ephemeral, which is kind of why downloading doesn't feel like theft for a lot of people. It's this whole intangible mess of information whose only physical manifestation is in cables and drives, stuff they already own. I think it ended up being a good thing because it challenged the nature of how people find and consume music. It's not as easily commodified. People are actually willing to pay more for physical experiences like live shows or records, and it's great that something they find on the internet could do that.
Musically, Beast Jesus has such an eclectic merging of sensibilities. On one hand there is a decided Swervedriver angle in terms of tone/texture, and then a facet hearkening to Orchid or City of Caterpillar... You guys are young, I wouldn't expect such a sound. Where does this come from?
Three of us in the band were part of the last Caitlyn Bailey lineup, so doing the whole Ebullition and Level Plane Records thing comes naturally to us. A lot of our early experience with hardcore punk comes from those types of labels and zines. We only got to experience certain sides of the '90s and early-'00s music scene, so as internet infrastructure improved, we used the medium to look for things we might've missed out on, which is practically every cool record that ever came out while we were getting beaten up in our schools' playgrounds.
Personally, I grew up on reruns of 120 Minutes or Alternative Nation. I remember being 8 years old and looking for old big beat records in our local record store's discount bin, which ended up getting into stuff like The Prodigy, Orbital, or The Crystal Method from there. At the same time, I taught myself to play guitar between our old band and Beast Jesus. It was mostly so I could play guitar for my solo projects, which were mostly electronica or loud guitar indie rock like Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr., all the obvious favorites. I was also really into shoegaze, indie pop, and twee.
Everyone in the band listens to all sorts of stuff, and it really helps that Raph, our guitar player, and I just grew tired of arguing on a musical direction. We all agreed to just work with whatever people come up with, no matter how weird or left-field it gets. It helps that everyone in the band is a huge nerd. Our bass player, Enzo, got us all into this hilarious guy on YouTube called Bill Wurtz. That guy does cheesy animated shorts that look like a bad public access TV spot, complete with self-deprecating jazz bits he recorded. The theory behind his jazz shorts is amazing, and we've made use of it on some of our own material. Oddly enough, it's kind of like the jazz side of Naked City, sans grindcore.
Following-up on the EP title and the lyrical content, there is a sense of disassociation of the self. Can you discuss the themes or concept behind the release?
Mental illness can get pretty interesting from an artistic and academic perspective. Having major depression myself, I'm incredibly familiar with the disjointed thought processes that go into a depressive episode. Depression, at least as much as I could verbalize, feels more like white noise with the occasional human voice peeking through. If you've seen those videos on YouTube where they play every song from Loveless at the same time, it's a lot like that.
Now imagine those tracks drifting further and further apart, until you can make each song out. That's where the nuances of fear and desire are best articulated, because they've been given enough space to speak clearly. In our case, these songs are rough approximations of that process.