Beck began teasing snippets of his new song “Wow” yesterday (June 1), and today he stopped by The Kevin & Bean Show to help premiere it to fans around the world.
Kevin & Bean first met Beck 22 years ago at KROQ Weenie Roast 1994, about a year after his first single “Loser” initially hit the airwaves.
“I remember it well. I remember Ed McMahon in combat boots walking around,” said Beck.
Since then, Beck has released 9 studio albums which earned him 16 GRAMMY nominations and 3 awards. Bean asked Beck if he could have ever imagined that this would be how his career unfolded.
“I didn’t really think I had a picture how it would go,” he said. “I’ve been playing music for years so I knew if the songs on the radio went away or the record deals, I’d still be playing music. I never looked for a record deal. I never really chased that thing, it kind of came my way and I embraced it and went with it, but it was never the driving thing for me.”
What are Beck’s expectations of his new music in 2016? “I have no expectations. It’s such a strange time. I couldn’t predict the reception on the last record at all.”
When asked about the lyrics of his new song “Wow,” Beck replied, “Most of this song was completely off the top of my head. I didn’t write any of it. It was just us fooling around in the studio. I didn’t even mean to release it. I was working on another song and came up with the riff and then I just started freestyling.”
“Wow” is the first single off Beck’s untitled forthcoming album, due October 21st, which according to him is almost finished.
“‘Wow’ is a little bit of an outlier,” continued Beck. “I did most of the record with my old keyboard player Greg Kurstin who’s now a pretty well-known producer. We’ve been working on this for about 3 years. Most of the record is stuff I did with him. We did the song ‘Dreams’ which came out last year. A lot of the record is in that vein I’d say. We’re thinking a lot about the live show and playing festivals. It’d been quite a few years since I’d done a record like that.”
Beck said he has “miles” of content that doesn’t fit on the album. “There’s too much really to make sense of. Even this record, what’s going to be out is probably a quarter of what we did.”
Beck returned to the spotlight at the 2014 GRAMMY Awards when his album Morning Phase won Album of the Year, which prompted rapper Kanye West to disrupt his acceptance speech. That didn’t seem to bother Beck much though, as he was more surprised to even be there in the first place.
“It’s surreal. I think it meant a lot because there were certain odds on the last record, things I was working against. I did that record on my own – it was a real friends and family, and coming together trying to do something. I was completely shocked by that nomination. Everyone I work with, my family, we were just like ‘Wait, what?’ It seemed preposterous, but I think the last thing I’d won was maybe ’98 or something. I wasn’t really expecting anything at all.”
The recently-deceased Prince, who Beck is a huge fan of, presented him the GRAMMY.
“That was actually the biggest moment of that night was him giving me that award. I gave him a hug, which I know is probably the only place that would ever be allowed, and it was probably not OK, but somehow on stage I knew it was my moment.”
“It was one of those overwhelming moments,” he continued. “I just reached out and hugged him. Afterwards I felt terrible. I felt like maybe that was invasive and I have friends who have been on tours where you’re not supposed to look at him and this and that. I was happy, I finally looked at the picture after he passed and he had a big smile on his face.”
The conversation then turned to another recently deceased legend: David Bowie.
“I did some remixes for him. We were talking for a period of time about maybe working together. I don’t know if it was due to his health or he wanted to have time with his family, but I had hoped that some day we’d be able to do something.”
Beck wrapped up the interview by discussing a particularly funny story from the past. “We were always opening up for The Prodigy in the early 90’s. If you want to understand my stage moves… the amount of bottles and shoes and keys… people’s house keys and car keys flying and whizzing past your head. I had some low moments. I remember a particularly sad festival in Belgium. Just an unresponsive audience and then a bottle of urine flying at my head. Getting clocked in the head. Direct hit. And Coolio is on the main stage blasting this out. [laughs] I don’t want to be complaining, I was happy to be there. I could do without the urine.”