Beat Union is one to watch
By Naughty Mickie

Birmingham, England is home to Beat Union, a band who cites their influences as The Clash, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, The Police, The Jam and Joe Jackson. Their sound is new wave, upbeat rock that you can dance to-- yet still surprisingly diverse. They have toured with the likes of Bedouin Soundclash, Hit The Lights, Taking Back Sunday, Goldfinger, Gym Class Heroes and Alexisonfire and got nods for their performance at SXSW in Texas in March 2008. Metal Hammer and Kerrang! both recently named this group "Best New Act."

Beat Union is vocalist/guitarist Dave Warsop, guitarist Dean Ashton, bassist Ade Preston and drummer Luke Johnson. In April 2008 they released "Disconnected" (Science) and are currently on the nationwide Vans Warped Tour 2008. Who would have guessed all this would come from a childhood friendship.

"Me and Dean always played guitar together from the age of 11 or 12 and we grew up writing songs together and playing in bands together," Warsop begins. "We jammed all through school and played our first shows together. We met Luke when we were about 13 and he was playing in a band. Then we were playing off and on in other bands. We met Ade a few years later."

The guys all played in different groups, but eventually Beat Union came to be.

"It was all about timing, I think everything came together at the right time," Warsop said.

The band began withWarsop and Ashton as Shooter McGavin, which broke up in 2002. They then formed Shortcut to Newark and that turned into Beat Union.

"Dean and me started a band called Shortcut to Newark." Warsop explains, "We were quite a different style and we had two other people. Over time the songwriting style started to change and develop into something different. By the time we got Luke on drums, the band started changing and by the time we had Luke and Abe in the band, that's two new band members, the songwriting was going in another direction at the same time. We started working with John Feldmann (producer, The Used, Good Charlotte, Story of the Year, The Matches). We weren't fond of the old name."

I ask Warsop to tell me more about his childhood.

"Me and Dean were always playing guitar together. We both come from not really musical families." Warsop says, "I think my granddad, he died before I was born, he played a little bit of piano and organ and my uncle played a little bit of organ as well. My parents were never really influenced by them. My mum and dad were always fans of music, there was always music in the house, but they never played anything.

"It came from a passion for music, a love of listening to music," Warsop goes on. "Seeing my favorite bands, I wanted to do the same things that those bands were doing."

Warsop studied music and music technology at a speciality college in England.

"We all had different jobs, none of us went to the university or learned a trade." Warsop elaborates, "We just worked whatever job we could get that would support us in between any gigs or tours. We've all done factory work, we've all done warehouse work. Luke was working in a scrap yard for a bit, Abe did some building, we all did various things, anything to get what we needed. It's not particularly interesting, it's been quite the opposite really, dull destroying jobs."

I wonder if he finds time for any hobbies or relaxation.

"When you're on tour so much, you're always writing or recording or performing, sometimes it's nice to go home and not think about going to band practice for a while and just go out with your friends," Warsop responds. "Just hang out, go see films and go out drinking, just socialize. Music is what we're all really passionate about, so to be honest, we're really always going out to see live music or going record shopping."

We discuss the creation of Beat Union's music.

"I tend to write the foundation of the song and then take it to rehearsal or take it to the studio where we can work on the arrangement," Warsop says. "I tend to write the lyrics and get the basics there and take it to them to finish it up.

"I believe that for a songwriter or lyricist everything you write has to come from the heart. If you're not singing from the heart, then it's not really singing at all," Warsop continues. "You have to sing about stuff that's personal to you, so it just comes from everyday life. "Poetry is basically the same thing. You're writing about relationships or your day job or that kind of stuff. There's no one who hasn't suffered through the very same things, whether it's suffering from a broken heart or working a shitty job or just feeling the struggle of life."

Warsop does most of his composition on acoustic guitar.

"I work on chords, melody, lyrics, just the basics of the song. I'm not really a piano player, but I have used the piano before just to monkey about and get the basic chord patterns." Warsop adds, "If you learn your instrument too well then you can become a little mechanical. You know what chords you have to choose from for the key you're playing in. Sometimes that works, but sometimes you have to throw it away. That's what it's all about working on the piano I don't really know what I'm doing and I may stumble across something really cool."

Although Beat Union has barely performed in the States, they already have a bead on the scene.

"The U.S. tends to be a little more enthusiastic, whether that's because we're from overseas, but I think they're more receptive and seem more excited," Warsop says. "I don't know that that can be explained, we're just really pleased."

"I think one of the most important things these days is having good songs, well-crafted songs, good songwriting because I think that's what people are always going to want. I know that's what I want in the music I listen to." Warsop continues, "I think regardless of the style and the clothes you wear and things like that, if the song's good then any band could play that song and I think if the song's strong enough people can relate to it. I hope that's what people can relate to with our music and I think people get that and understand the songs and that's one of the biggest things we have going for us."

Beat Union got a great reception during their performance at the first stop of the Vans Warped Tour in Pomona, California. Once they finish this tour, they are planning to travel more through the United States and perhaps Europe. They're also booked for Japan's Summer Sonic Festival in August 2008.

"We're having a really good time out here," Warsop says of America. "We're more concerned on where we're going to be in a year's time. We're planning on staying out here and building it up, but we're taking it one day at a time. Anyone taking any interest in our band, to come to a show or review us or interview us like yourself is really, really appreciated. Being out here is like a dream come true for us. Thanks for taking the time out to speak with me."

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