|Origin||Washington, DC, United States|
Beauty Pill is a band from Washington, DC, based largely around the songs and ideas of singer/guitarist/producer Chad Clark.
Beauty Pill's music is generally characterized by cinematic arrangements, angular melodies, and electronic textures. This detailed, atmospheric aesthetic contrasts starkly from its label-mates on Dischord Records.
This sensibility reflects Clark’s parallel profession as a producer and engineer. His discography includes work with The Dismemberment Plan, Sparklehorse, Fugazi, Blakroc, Bernie Worrell, Marc Ribot, Mary Timony, The Evens, Lungfish, Bob Mould, The Wilderness, The Caribbean, Craig Wedren, among others.
Trio period (2001–2002)
Following the dissolution of their previous band Smart Went Crazy, Chad Clark and Abram Goodrich decided to form a new project.
They invited Joanne Gholl and the trio made an EP called The Cigarette Girl from the Future. studio experimentation and simple tunes. It received critical praise from the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Pitchfork (which rated the record a 9.0).
However, the attempt to transform into a touring band proved difficult and this incarnation of Beauty Pill dissolved before ever playing a show.
Quintet period (2003–2005)
Clark met Rachel Burke, a recent Seattle-DC transplant and fan of the Cigarette Girl EP. The creative chemistry was apparent. Burke became a muse for Clark, who wrote “Prison Song” specifically for her voice.
They went on to recruit bassist Basla Andolsun and guitarist Drew Doucette, along with drummer Ryan Nelson, all of whom had been in bands Clark had recorded. The quintet released a lo-fi EP called You Are Right To Be Afraid followed shortly by a full-length album called The Unsustainable Lifestyle.
Rachel Burke announced that she was moving back to Seattle in order to be closer to her family, drawing the quintet period to a close.
“Ann The Word”/Sextet period (2006–2007)
Jean Cook replaced Rachel Burke as singer in 2006. Ryan Nelson left to form the band Soccer Team and was replaced by Devin Ocampo (also a veteran of Smart Went Crazy).
With Cook singing, Beauty Pill published the demo for a new song called “Ann The Word” via the band’s Myspace page. At nearly 7 minutes, the song differed from the more "rock" sound of the quintet period. With electronic sounds and quasi-Japanese sonorities, “Ann The Word” was the most complex/technological thing Beauty Pill had ever released.
The song went on to stream 70,000+ times. In interviews, Clark said “‘Ann The Word’ changed my life.”
To embrace this new sensibility, Cook began to use a Macbook as an instrument onstage. The band expanded to a sextet, joined alternately by Chad Molter and Holly Montoya, playing an electronic drum kit.
On July 7th, 2007, Beauty Pill played a show as part of the Fort Reno summer concert series in DC. The show is notable for two reasons: (1) The band played its entire set despite a rainstorm that overtook the stage halfway through and (2) it would be the band's final show before Clark took ill.
Chad Clark illness
In Fall of 2007, Clark became gravely ill, stricken with viral cardiomyopathy, a rare condition resulting from a virus invading and inflaming the heart. The origin of the virus was unknown. Clark did not reveal his illness until February, 2008, when he underwent emergency open heart surgery to save his life. The surgery was successful and Clark spent the next two years recovering and making music privately.
Return to public work (2009–present)
In Fall of 2009, Clark founded a Washington, DC, performance series called Story/Stereo. Taking place at the Writer’s Center, the series blended literature and music with Clark as curator and host. The series received an endowment from the NEA.
In January, 2010, the band wrote and recorded the score for a play called suicide.chat.room. The work was a collaboration with choreographer Paulina Guerrero and director Marcus Kyd. The music for suicide.chat.room found favor with critics, with The Onion AV calling it “brilliant and vividly balletic,” the Washington Post calling it “smartly evocative” and the City Paper calling it “lyrical and convulsive, channeling [the spirit of the play] perfectly.”
In April, 2010, Beauty Pill made some collaborative music with the band Bluebrain on their project called The Cherry Blossom Boombox Walk. Other collaborators included Animal Collective and DJ Outputmessage.
Aside from this work, the band remained silent, with no shows or new releases.
The Immersive Ideal project
In 2011, Beauty Pill were commissioned to transform Washington, DC's Artisphere Black Box Theatre into a recording studio in order to record their new material. In so doing, the band turned their recording process into an art exhibit on public display, dispelling notions that Clark was reclusive. The resulting recording would later be released as an album.
The Immersive Ideal project was broken into three distinct installments, the first being the recording, the second being a photo exhibit coupled with surround-sound playback of the recordings, and the third in 2015 had the band playing live surrounding the audience, i.e. with band members arrayed equidistant in a circle around the audience in the center of the space.
In late 2015, Beauty Pill released a new full-length LP Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are (the result of the Immersive Ideal recording sessions) as well as a vinyl reissue of The Cigarette Girl From the Future.
The band went on tour with Arto Lindsay, playing mostly museums and art spaces.
- The Cigarette Girl from the Future (2001 EP)
- You Are Right to Be Afraid (2003 EP)
- The Unsustainable Lifestyle (2004 LP)
- Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are (2015 LP)
- Richards, Chris (January 21, 2011). "Be specific: Chad Clark, co-producer of the Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I," on how the album might have been very different". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
- Burton, Brent (July 20, 2007). "Beauty Pill in the Rain". Washington City Paper.
- Solarski, Matthew (February 25, 2008). "Beauty Pill's Clark Undergoes Successful Heart Surgery". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
- "Beauty Pill Myspace Blog". March 9, 2008.
- Leitko, Aaron (Sep 18, 2009). "Chad Clark on Story/Stereo @ The Writers Center". Washington City Paper.
- Little, Ryan (July 13, 2010). "Story/Stereo Nabs NEA Grant in Time for Its Second Season". Washington City Paper.
- Fischer, Jonathan (Jan 27, 2010). "Two Years after Nearly Dying, Beauty Pill Leader Writes Songs for a Play about Suicide". Washington City Paper.
- Fischer, Jonathan (Apr 1, 2010). "Bluebrain, Animal Collective, Beauty Pill, and Others on Their Cherry Blossom Boombox Walk". Washington City Paper.
- Richards, Chris (2011-06-22). "Local news: Beauty Pill to record new album at Artisphere". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
- "Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
Chad Clark and Basla Andulson speak with NPR *www