Stereotypes would have you believe that a musician who has several musical side projects is either scatterbrained, egotistical or the only pianist any of the other bands know. Thankfully, none of these are the case for 23-year-old Tyler Beach. One fourth of the band Leaves, one half of Fingers and Toes, recent guest on recordings from Silence Sumire, and the leader of the seven-member Leaf Bird, Beach is brimming with musical talent and an aversion to the confinements of genres. He estimates that the members of Leaves collectively participate in 12 musical projects—and no two sound alike.
If I were to come to your neighborhood, where would you insist I go?
I would probably take you to Handlebar to enjoy some amazing vegetarian cuisine, and then maybe The Radish Patch. It's a great house show place that hosts a lot of touring bands. It's gotten a reputation for intimate sets, and the people that run it have also set up DO DIY USA, a guide to DIY show houses all over the country.
What's your favorite Chicago hidden gem?
The hidden gems of Chicago are all the inspired and creative musicians doing their thing for the love of music, and collectively helping each other out. There are more underground, talented artists per capita here then anywhere else I know. I think the music scene here rivals any national scene.
What's the best Chicago-related advice you've ever given or received?
Take time to meet people here, see how the communities overlap and connect. Chicago is a very open place for artists, where with talent and perseverance, you will get gigs and you will build an audience. I think the geography of Chicago helps enable people to hit the ground running when they move here. Everyday I meet people coming from all over the country to be a part of the arts renaissance that is taking place here.
What has been your biggest musical priority out of all your bands?
Over the past year, I probably put the most time into Fingers and Toes. We recorded an album at the Shape Shoppe with Nick Broste, and Steve Albini's Electrical Audio with Erin Boyd. It was pretty amazing. Unfortunately, post-production work is on hold as Tony is doing relief work in Louisiana through March.
What is your favorite venue to play at in Chicago?
Aside from all of the house venues, my favorite major venue is the Empty Bottle. I love their light guy. Actually, I also love their bartenders, their booking agents and the owner; they're all sweethearts.
Tyler Beach plays the Velvet Lounge on February 6 with Charles Rumback and Bill Mackay.