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Be Non

Album review: Be/Non - "Moi Ou Toi" 7"

If you’ve been around the KC music scene for a while, there’s a good chance that, if you haven’t actually heard Be/Non, you’ve at least heard of them. The brainchild behind the band, Brodie Rush, created Be/Non over 20 years ago, and has remained the only constant member. Since then he has had many different supporting lineups, and has released several full-length albums, including A Mountain of Yeses, Esperanto at the Pantheon, Incognito, and RAN. These recordings are mostly artsy, progressive rock, with plenty of eccentric accents. While they may be interesting to certain ears, the majority of the songs are not going to appeal to the masses, which is probably just fine with Rush.
In 2011, Be/Non teamed up with now-defunct Earwaxx Records to record the 7” vinyl single, “Moi Ou Toi,” and the B-side, “Not Tonight.” Earwaxx folded soon after the record was pressed, and little became of the endeavor. Four years later, Haymaker Records decided to re-release the tunes on vinyl and digital formats, along with the bonus tracks “Che Che Coolie” and “Ice Fight.” I’m glad they did, as the songs deserve a second chance.
“Moi Ou Toi” (Me Or You), was originally featured on RAN in its demo form. It has transformed over the years to its current minimal version, consisting mainly of a drum machine from a keytar and a guitar played through a cheap Pignose amp. It’s lo-fi electro pop, yet is quite thought-provoking. The smooth, Leonard Cohen-esque vocals and driving rhythm are hypnotic. My first listen was spent nodding my head to the beat, while trying to comprehend the lyrics. “’Moi Ou Toi’ is a song about blame and liars,” Rush says. It’s erotic: “I am the piston in the shaft / I am the bullwhip smacking your ass.” It’s contradictory and almost eerie: “I am your alibi / I am the creep in the foyer.” The whispered chorus, “Moi ou toi,” adds to this. “Creeps tend to whisper,” Rush confirms. Few songs are intriguing, relaxing, and exciting at once. “Moi Ou Toi” somehow manages to be all three.
The flip side, “Not Tonight,” is a very different sound at first. Up-tempo acoustic guitars with an Indian influence play along to an intricate beat coming from what sounds like a cajon box drum. There is a noticeable influence from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, both musically and through Rush’s vocal style. The lyrics, while sung in a flat, no-nonsense way, seem very melancholy under the surface. “Forgive me for taking the time to be real, but nothing can disturb you…alone, I am.” Towards the end of “Not Tonight,” an electronic beat takes over and the guitars fade away; perhaps indicating that the song’s protagonist is doing the same.
Rush admitted that both sides of the record are “a challenging listen.” I would agree that they will challenge the listener to think about what they are hearing, but would argue that they can be easy for fans of various genres to enjoy. Be/Non is a band that has few boundaries, and probably won’t be loved by everyone. Moi Ou Toi stays true to the band’s long history, but offers something for most.
Be/Non will be one of the featured artists at KC PsychFest and recordBar’s 10th anniversary party this weekend. They will be playing night 2 on Saturday at 9 p.m. Facebook event page.
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.


On The Beat with Ryan Shank

(Photo by Michael Byars)

Ryan Shank has been a member of three important and stylistically diverse KC bands: The Golden Republic, Roman Numerals, and Be/Non. We get a chance to talk with him before he reunites with The Golden Republic for a special New Year's Eve show. Catch the beat right here!

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat is an exclusive feature from The Deli Magazine-Kansas City that showcases many of the talented drummers in the Kansas City area.

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On The Beat with Ryan Shank



More than many other local drummers, Ryan Shank has evolved his craft over the years, in many successful Kansas City bands. He was a founding member of The Golden Republic, an indie rock band that eventually spawned The Republic Tigers and Soft Reeds; moved in to the mathematical rhythms of the Roman Numerals, and is a current member of the sonically complex Be/Non. Shank will be celebrating a reunion show of The Golden Republic at recordBar on New Year’s Eve, and we find out more about his technique and experience in the local scene.
The Deli: How did the drums find you?
Ryan Shank: A lot of people will find this odd, but I started playing when I was 16 at my church. Their drummer was awful, and I thought “I could do that.” Playing in church actually taught me a lot about dynamics and feel.
The Deli: Did you play any other instruments before?
RS: I played the trumpet in 5th grade for a couple months. You got to pick which instrument you learned by where your last name fit alphabetically. Unfortunately, my last name is Shank. I wanted to play drums, but honestly I probably wouldn't have stuck with it. I was a hyper kid. Needless to say, I don't remember much about the trumpet. Spit valves are disgusting, though.
The Deli: What type of kit(s) do you use?
RS: I used to play a Gretsch Broadkaster kit. I used it on tour with The Golden Republic, but I sold it a few years ago. Lately, I've been borrowing kits. I use Brodie [Rush]'s kit for Be/Non shows. I finally ordered a new kit, though. It should be done before the new year's gig. C&C, of course.
The Deli: Biggest influences?
RS: The obvious drummer influences... Bonham, Moon. I was actually hugely influenced by a guy who played for Matthew Sweet named Ric Menck.
The Deli: Who are your favorite KC/Lawrence drummers?
RS: Bill Belzer from Ghosty is my favorite drummer in KC. He knows how to play for the song, but puts something interesting in there when it needs it. Dave Conarroe from The Good Foot is also great. Solid. Super solid. Also, Nick Organ is a great drummer.
The Deli: How has your drumming style changed or evolved since The Golden Republic into the Roman Numerals and Be/Non?
RS: With The Golden Republic, I was a one-trick pony. I've tried to broaden my outlook and playing in general. The Golden Republic was kind of sloppy, Roman Numerals was more mathematical and square-patterned (does that make sense?), and with Be/Non it's a lot more diverse. I'm still a "less is more" kind of player, but my mind is open to more ideas. Since my Golden Republic days, I've played in several cover bands. It's actually changed my playing a lot. We started rehearsing for our new year's gig last week and the songs just sound different now...in a good way. We've all come a long way in our playing.
The Deli: You've been part of the KC music scene for several years now. What advice would you give to a drummer just starting out?
RS: Go see local shows any chance you get. Talk to the other bands. Eat Sunday brunch at recordBar. Buy me a drink.
The Deli: You have your hand in a lot of projects. Any particular ones you're looking forward to for next year?
RS: I'm really excited about the new Be/Non stuff. We're working on a lot of new and not-so-new material that people need to hear. I can't wait to finally play a new kit.
Shank will join his Golden Republic bandmates (Ben Grimes, Kenn Jankowski, and Harry Anderson) for a special New Year’s Eve show at the recordBar. They’ll be joined by Thee Water MoccaSins and a very special guest. Champagne toast and party favors will be included. Tickets are $12 and available at this link.


--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. In 5th grade, she dressed up as a computer programmer when everyone had to dress up for their dream job. She is not a computer programmer and never would be.

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Ryan Shank

Photo by Michael Byars

The Golden Republic
 Photo by Lindsey Fisher
Roman Numerals
Photo by Todd Zimmer



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