By Zach Collier
The time was 6:44 PM. With three minutes to spare, The Beautiful Baby Boys – a group that had formed 23 hours and 57 minutes earlier – released their first album online. 2000, as it is called, was written, tracked, mixed, mastered, and released in under 24 hours. The band was made up of Andrew Wiggins, Kyle Wayne Benson, Tom Brinton, Jared Clark Gay, Sebastian Meyer, Ben Meyer, Alex Vaughn, and Jeff Wiggins. The album features nine quirky, energetic tracks all about the turn of the century and the start of a new millennium – written from the perspective of their twelve year old selves. Reach Provo got to talk with collaborator Jared Gay about what it was like to create an extensive work of art under extremely restrictive circumstances.
Andrew Wiggins is credited several times in the documentary for coming up with the idea to make a 24 hour album. Where did he get the idea from? What sparked the interest in a project of this nature?
Andrew, me, and several others were deep in the middle of preparing for our space rock opera (Space Venture Coalition) when he originally had the idea. The opera was a pretty consuming, and creatively restrictive project at that specific point in time, so I think we were all craving a musical stretch. So yeah, we were ripe for something like the 24 hour album. The moment Andrew suggested it, we were all on board. He got the idea from some case competitions he’s done while getting his MBA at BYU. Kind of a funny place to inspire an arts project.
Why you guys end up deciding on “The Year 2000” for the theme? What about it appealed to you?
We wanted something that set solid parameters but also left room for us to have fun and talk about any topic we wanted. I felt like the year 2000 was perfect for that. It holds nostalgia, it’s a good distance from the present, which allowed us to poke some fun at it, and it was also a generally weird/emotional time for most of us on the project – most of us were in junior high that year. I knew there would be a lot to explore quickly and easily. And time and ease were important if we were going to produce an entire album in that time.
What were some of the other ideas that got put out there that were ultimately scrapped? Was there one you were sad to let go? Any ones that were just too goofy?
With the time constraint, and how tired we were, our filters pretty much shut down. The songs on the album are either songs people pushed for, or songs that were just undeniable for whatever reason (“Al Gore” and “Two Oh Oh No” were kind of undeniable).
What differences in the creative process did you notice among fellow participants as you were in the songwriting phase? Was there anything that you found saw that you came away wanting to try for yourself?
Some people went straight to writing lyrics, others started off by hunting for melodies and chord progressions. A really fun thing Kyle did was that he looked up a bunch of Wikipedia articles on the year 2000. He found some excellent stuff that gave his songs some particularly historically relevant flavor. It reminded me of how fun it is to co-write with different people.
What was the most difficult part of the process for you personally? The most satisfying?
Most difficult part: Staying awake. Most satisfying part: Actually completing the album and being 100% done with it before the 24 hour mark. We did the thing we wanted to do. That felt good.
Do you have a favorite track or tracks from the album? If so, why are they your favorites?
I could pretty easily say “Beautiful Baby Boys,” the last song on the album, is my favorite for purely nostalgic reasons. We were all exhausted and laughing and stressed when we made it. I’d say to anyone who wasn’t part of the project, that song is pretty obnoxious. But there’s a lot of fun and emotion wrapped up in it. Also, all the boys sang on it. Where was Alex Vaughn though? She didn’t make it in, but I know she was there. Where were you Alex?
I think the song that has the most long term quality is “Winona.” The more I listen to it, the more I love it. It’s about the love our 12 year old selves felt towards Winona Ryder. It has a very Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin vibe. And it’s oh, so sweet! Great lyrics, Kyle.
What do you think about the attention the album has received? You got some pretty extensive coverage from the Daily Herald through the What Say Ye? podcast.
Yeah! That was fantastic! I love that it’s getting this attention. I honestly wish people felt less inhibited in creating work and putting it out there – so I hope it serves in some motivating way for anyone who’s thinking “I should make that thing I’ve been thinking of making.”
It really is fun that it got such a response though, because this was a project that was designed first and foremost for us to have a good time. Any external interest has just felt nice – especially since the music is so unrefined. It felt like people were pretty on board with us just doing the absurd thing – and that’s a lot of what it was about.
What are your thoughts about the 24 hour album trend in Provo? Do you think it will take off? Should it? Like, could any rag-tad band of musicians put one together? Or does it require a certain amount of skill?
I’d love for the trend to take off. Even if it’s at a slowly accelerating takeoff. I actually just found out there was another marathon album Jack Mergist made called Humming Bird a few years back. Turns out we weren’t the first around here! But my main hope is that there will be a greater spirit of collaboration and more collaborative projects in general around here at a more frequent rate – not necessarily as 24 hour albums. People could make quick short films, do fun events, whatever. There are so many people with so many skills who want to do cool stuff. I wish we all did a better job at finding each other and making excellent projects happen in the community.
For anyone interested in doing a marathon album – a lot of things aligned for us. But I think if more people looked for the opportunity to collaborate on a project like this, it would be more available to them than they think. It does require resources (mics, musicians, someone who can record & mix, TIME). But look around you! The more you push the limitations of your resources, the more you’ll make.
The documentary by Ben Meyer and Kensey Berry is awesome – very neat to chronicle the entire experience. How do you know Ben and Kensey? How did they come onboard the project?
Ben is actually the brother-in-law of Andrew Wiggins. He was also the drummer on all the songs on the album except for the last song (great job on that one Jeff Wiggins!). I know Ben through Andrew, and Ben plays drums in Space Venture Coalition. What a guy!
Was it ever intrusive or stressful to have a camera on you the entire time? How do you feel about being able to watch the entire process back?
Not for me! I love that sort of thing. I also snap storied the whole project, and that was probably more intrusive than Ben’s tactful camera work. It was also nice because we all knew Ben, so it didn’t feel like some random dude getting up in our grill as we were trying to focus on pushing out another song.
Last question – what’s your biggest take away from the experience? What do you, as a musician now, wish you would have known five years ago? What do you hope listeners – in Provo and abroad – learn from your experience?
My biggest takeaway from the whole project is that low stakes projects make life good. I spent a lot of my younger music life thinking “I need this project to succeed!” But that attitude proved to be consistently problematic. No project needs to succeed. It’s okay if all your projects fail if you’re enjoying the projects. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make something truly good and successful, but I think lowering the stakes on your projects is one of the most creatively liberating things you can do.
You can listen to the 24 hour album, 2000 by The Beautiful Baby Boys, on Bandcamp here. You can watch the documentary by Ben Meyer and Kensey Berry about their experience below. Also, make sure to check out our article about Space Venture Coalition – another musical project by Jared Gay and Tom Brinton.