Beat Connection are embracing their next challenge

Beat Connection

Beat Connection (from left to right): Tom Eddy, Mark Hunter, Reed Juenger and Jarred Katz.

Photo by Avi Loud // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Reed Juenger isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

Ever since he started Beat Connection with his fellow dormmate Jordan Koplowitz at the University of Washington, it has been one challenge after another to keep the musical project alive, let alone see it blossom into what it has become today.

“It’s certainly gone through quite a few changes,” says Juenger, who also oversees the graphic design and marketing for Capitol Hill Block Party, a three-day summer music festival over in Seattle’s hip Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Juenger was born and grew up in the greater Boston area before his parents moved cross-country to Washington when he was 12 years old. But it wasn’t until college, when he met Koplowitz on the first day of school and the two eventually began DJing house parties, that he considered making music for a living.

As Juenger illuminates, he and Koplowitz at the time were trying to learn how to “write music naïvely and spirited in a way,” an idea that the producer/keyboardist still believes remains paramount to Beat Connection’s identity (the group’s name serves as a direct reference to the LCD Soundsystem song) despite Koplowitz no longer being a part of the equation.

“A large part of Beat Connection is having an attitude of ‘I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I’m going to do it anyway,'” Juenger says. “That has been our guiding force.”

By the time Koplowitz had left the group in early 2013 to pursue other interests, Beat Connection had released 2010 EP Surf Noir and 2012 LP The Palace Garden while expanding to a four-piece band with Tom Eddy on guitar/vocals and Jarred Katz on drums. But Koplowitz’s departure left Juenger, Eddy and Katz with a crucial decision to make: should they continue as Beat Connection in their current iteration or should they start from scratch as a completely new project?

With little doubt in their minds, the three remaining members continued to work on new music while bringing in Mark Hunter, who had performed with Juenger and Koplowitz when Beat Connection was strictly an electronic music duo, to play bass. The shakeup signaled a major turning point for Juenger, but also one that he has no regrets about as he looks toward the future.

“To me, that’s when this band really started, which is counterintuitive because we have this body of work from the past under the same name,” he explains. “It’s a different thing now, and I feel like it’s what it was meant to be the whole time.”

Even with Koplowitz out of the picture, Beat Connection is still very much a college band — not when it comes to describing their sound per say, but simply in tracing their formation. All four members met at the University of Washington, and it’s at least in part why Juenger refers to his bandmates as his “best friends” now.

“Those guys, we’re a team,” he adds. “We are always trying to be the best version of a band that we can be and the best version of us that we can be when creating art.”

But for all the challenges that Juenger has endured since forming Beat Connection in 2010, he can finally breathe a sigh of relief after months of uncertainty regarding the band’s record label status. That’s because the group, despite releasing The Palace Garden through Moshi Moshi imprint Tender Age almost three years ago, had remained independent until late last month when it struck a deal with ANTI- Records, a sister label of Epitaph that will release Beat Connection’s forthcoming album this fall.

In the meantime, the Seattle quartet has already debuted four songs from what will be its second full-length record, including the synthpop-heavy “Illusion” and the funk-flavored “So Good” most recently. The new material has been a long time coming for Beat Connection, which has been writing and recording much of it since 2012. But despite finishing the album in November, there has been no rush by the band to put it out until its 100 percent ready.

“We are trying our best to deliver a work of art to an audience, which sounds pretentious — and it is,” says Juenger, who doesn’t mind calling himself a perfectionist when it comes to the creative process. “But we’re trying our best to make sure we have everything fully in line.”

What excites Juenger just as much as the prospect of releasing a new album, though, is the chance to finally get back on the road. Outside of performing at South by Southwest this past spring, it has been quite a while since Beat Connection has toured, with their last appearance in California coming in October at Culture Collide Festival (read our review of the festival here).

“I can’t believe it has been that long,” Juenger admits.

They’ll end that nearly 10-month drought on Thursday night in Los Angeles when they open for British art rockers Django Django at the El Rey Theatre amid an 11-date tour that saw them play Lollapalooza last weekend and includes upcoming festival appearances at MusicFestNW and Austin City Limits with an ever-important hometown date sandwiched in between.

And with those opportunities in place, the band knows now is the time to seize the moment and take its game to the next level.

“We have everything we need,” Juenger stresses. “There’s always a fear that there’s something better out there, but part of figuring things out is knowing that we are a team and these are my best friends.”

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