Many talented bands have come out of Austin, Texas. One such band is Shy Beast, a dreamy new indie pop group. Formerly known as MCG, Shy Beast has just reemerged onto the scene with a self-titled EP. Its three songs—“Back With Me,” “Forever,” and “For Now,” each written by a different band member—shine with catchy melodies and instrumentation that vaguely evokes the shimmering sounds of the ‘80s.
We recently caught up with three members of Shy Beast—Mariclaire “MC” Glaeser (vocals), David Tenczar (guitar/vocals), and Drew Silverman (drums)—to chat about the new EP, the “Back With Me” music video, and performing in general. Our conversation was full of fun, and encompassed everything from songwriting to magical sun bears to “grinning skulls on mantles.”
TYF: Your self-titled debut EP just came out. Does each of you have a favorite lyric on that EP?
Drew Silverman: That’s a thinker. No one’s asked us that before. Thank you for that. Who wants to go first? Do you have one, David?
David Tenczar: I’m gonna pick one of my own, and that’s so super lame. I wrote most of the lyrics on “For Now,” and I like, in the second pre-chorus, “Because you must, you can, I trust.”
Mariclaire Glaeser: That is good. I have one. It’s from the song that Andrew wrote, called “Forever,” and I think it’s really interesting and creative. It says, “Wonder if we’ll get tethered and let our souls collide.” I think that’s cool imagery.
Silverman: I think for me—this is actually in “For Now,” as well—“You love the world around you and shape it into beautiful sounds for now.”
Glaeser: I like so many lyrics. It’s hard to pick.
Bennett: Yeah, it’s hard to pick.
TYF: You guys just filmed the music video for your song “Back With Me.” What was that experience like?
Silverman: Very easy for me. David had a very different experience as producer.
Tenczar: It was super fun and rewarding, but it was also terrible work. We prepped this for about 6 weeks before we shot it because we had to do it on a budget, a very small budget. So we figured, The more time we’re using to sort things out, the easier it’ll be. And that was pretty true. But we also had a good team. I called in favors, and so did everybody else. Mariclaire spoke to her dancer friends who helped this as well. More than anybody, I think Brittany Reeber, who directed it, really took a heavy burden off of us by coming in with a real vision and making it happen.
Glaeser: This was a unique band video because I sort of took the reins on it and asked the band to let me have fun with it in a more choreographic way. Maybe in the future, our next music video will be more involved with the other bandmates. But this time, the song was called “Back With Me,” and I feel like it’s more centered around myself being surrounded by people, having people taken away, and the band being a presence… It was more of a personal song, and I wanted to incorporate dance to it. So yeah, it was a brand new experience for our band, the way we went about it. And it was a real test for me to choreograph something and have it fit into the world that the music video was set in, on a budget and in the timeline. But it was good. I think we pulled it off pretty well.
TYF: On November 17, you played a release show for your EP in your hometown. How did that go?
Silverman: It was packed, and there were so many smiling faces, which is exactly what you want—at any show that you’re a part of, but especially if you’re putting out something that’s really meaningful to you and that you worked really hard on. Like, seeing a lot of happy people being in one room together—friends, family, people you don’t know—it’s super cool. It went so well. Couldn’t have asked for a better show.
Glaeser: There were a lot of warm and fuzzy vibes at that show, surprisingly so. You can play a lot of shows, and there’s sort of a hardened feel, like “We’re getting in, we’re getting out, we’re playing,” but this one… I felt very welcomed by people there. There were a lot of smiles. I even had a few girls come up to me who hadn’t heard of the band, but had just heard one of our songs on the local radio, and they had been going through a breakup, and that song was their theme song of the month because it was helping them get back to themselves and learn how to find a new normal again and figure out how to move forward after losing a relationship. And that was my biggest takeaway. It was crazy! That was very cool feedback for me.
TYF: That’s amazing.
Silverman: Really great lineup, too.
TYF: What other bands were playing?
Silverman: We got to play with some friends. Dossey opened up the show. She’s really great. You’ll definitely be hearing about her soon, if you haven’t already. Then there was Slomo Drags.
Tenczar: Slomo’s so good. I love them.
Silverman: Yeah, oh my gosh.They’re definitely one of my favorite local bands, for sure. And then it was closed out with Fort Never. They’re really great, too.
Glaeser: It was a very versatile lineup.
TYF: Out of all the live shows you’ve ever played, which one is your favorite?
Tenczar: Hmm. Another good one.
Glaeser: That’s hard.
Tenczar: I know that I still fondly remember our very first show at Cheer Ups. I think about that one a lot, even though it was poorly attended and we weren’t very good. (Laughs) But that was still obviously an important one. It’s memorable for many reasons. It’s still very vivid in my memory.
Glaeser: Yeah. I remember what I was wearing and how that’s not something I would wear to play a show in now. (Laughs)
Tenczar: It’s funny to think about the contrast. Even the little things, like the fact that Andrew and I stood on different sides of the stage than we do now. The pictures and videos are bewildering. Just the little silly things like that.
Glaeser: I had, like, a quarter of my hair shaved on one side, and I couldn’t stop shaking. I was terrified ‘cause I had to learn basically how to play a new instrument because of the band. I played guitar but we already had two capable guitarists, so I was like, “I guess I should learn keyboard.” Even if we play a big show, sometimes the smaller shows that are not as well attended are more fun. You can let loose, and I sort of end up having ridiculous conversations with people in the crowd, and we have a lot more fun as a band. I really can’t pick one. I might say our very first album release at the North Door.
Tenczar: Oh, man. That was a good one.
Glaeser: ‘Cause there’s this man in music and theater—his name is Dave—and he starred in our very first music video. And we brought him up onstage, and he just did interpretive dance while we played, and it was so awesome. There were like five people there. We painted our town with the show posters, and we were pretty much off the grid. No one had heard of us. But that was really exciting.
TYF: That sounds great. Was that when you were playing under a different band name?
Glaeser: Yeah. That was, like, three years ago. [As] MCG.
TYF: Different people wrote the different songs on your EP. Do you each remember the first song you ever wrote?
Tenczar: I actually do remember the first song I ever wrote. It was horribly titled “Tub.” Just “T-U-B,” “Tub.” Which is, like, the worst name I’ve ever heard of for a song. It was inspired by a tub of ice cream, so obviously, it was really good. It was a terrible song, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and that’s what inspired me, I guess, that day. (Laughs)
TYF: How old were you when you wrote “Tub”?
Tenczar: Oh, man. Probably like 11 or 12.
Tenczar: Whenever I first picked up a guitar, that was the first song I ever wrote. I don’t know. (Laughs) It was probably a minute and a half long or something. It was just a thing that I wrote to start my venture into songwriting. MC, do you remember yours?
Glaeser: I do. I can still play it on the guitar. It was called “Doorstep,” and it was about my very first kiss. I was 17 and I was listening to a lot of Fiona Apple, so it was very dark and moody. (Laughs) And, like, a lot of minor chords. That really jumpstarted my writing style for high school. (Laughs) What about Drew?
Silverman: Since I’m the drummer, I think of the first song that I was arranging with my first band. And I kind of come from a more heavy punk background. And the song was called “Grinning Skull on the Mantle.”
Tenczar: Whoa. Whoa!
TYF: That’s intense.
Silverman: And it was definitely just a bunch of noise for about a minute and a half.
Tenczar: Man, “Grinning Skull on the Mantle.” That’s our next record right there.
Glaeser: The fact that it’s grinning…
Tenczar: Can a skull not grin? I feel like any skull is gonna be grinning.
Silverman: I know. It’s that weird paradox thing.
TYF: That’s the real question.
Glaeser: It’s like skulls are forced to grin. They’re kind of uncomfortable-looking.
Silverman: I’m sure always having a grin doesn’t make you feel good.
Glaeser: It’s true.
TYF: So we’ve got “Tub,” we’ve got “Doorstep,” and we’ve got “Grinning Skull on the Mantle.”
Tenczar: It’s a very diverse group.
Glaeser: We pull influences from a lot of places. Ice cream, boys, and skulls.
TYF: On mantles, always grinning.
Glaeser: My very first EP that I recorded was called Clouds, Boys, Et Cetera.
Silverman: I’ve listened to that, too. It’s good. There are good songs on there.
Glaeser: (Laughs) Ice cream, doorstep, grinning skull on a mantle.
TYF: I read another interview with you, and MC, when answering a question about your band name, you said you “have a fascination with mystical, adorable creatures that somehow have an awesome and terrible power.“ On that note, if each of you could be any fantasy creature, what kind would you be?
Glaeser: Oh, man. I’m a huge fan of the six-tailed foxes in anime and Japanese folklore. I like the idea of having six very large fox tails. I think fox tails are the pinnacle of the world, and to have six of them? Super cool. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, and I started writing one in high school, so I have a sketchbook of very random creatures, so I sort of have a long list of things I would want to be. That’s why I called it Shy Beast. It sort of covers the vibe.
Tenczar: Oh, gosh. Whatever MC said, I’m that one’s little brother. (Laughs)
TYF: The little brother of a six-tailed-fox.
Tenczar: Exactly. I’m sorry, that’s a terrible answer. I’m having trouble thinking of something.
Silverman: A lot of the things I’m thinking of are just weird characters, and I don’t know if I want to be associated with any of them, in any holistic sort of way. So let’s just say… elves are cool, right? Or are they not cool anymore?
TYF: I see nothing objectionable about elves.
Tenczar: I don’t know, man. What do you think is cool?
Silverman: I’ll say an elf. And I can’t give you any reason.
Glaeser: Drew, what if you were a sun bear with, like, big elk horns?
Silverman: A sun bear with big elk horns is exactly what I would be.
Glaeser: You appear in the fall, you know. Through the trees. And you bring good luck.
Silverman: Well, clearly MC knows me better than I know myself, so that’s me!
Glaeser: That’s true.
Silverman: There’s your answer.
TYF: A what with elk horns, did you say?
Glaeser: A sun bear.
Silverman: it’s, like, an Asiatic bear with a really cute yellow bib on. It’s a black bear with a yellow bib.
Tenczar: They have, like, little weird noses, too, don’t they?
Silverman: Well, they have long tongues, but I don’t know about their noses. Is their nose weird?
Tenczar: I don’t know. Maybe not.
TYF: I’m looking it up right now. Sun bears are very cute animals.
Glaeser: If you leave them berries on the summer solstice, they’ll come and get them, and you’ll receive good luck for the next year.
Tenczar: Bears and berries.
Glaeser: I’m just making stuff up right now. (Laughs)
TYF: I support this sun bear lore. On a less fantastical note, what are the last albums you guys bought?
Silverman: It’s by this band called Krallice. And it’s like, Go Be Forgotten or something like that. It’s their most recent release. They just put it out like two weeks ago. Uncompromising black metal, in the best way.
Silverman: I’m sure people don’t really wanna hear that, but that’s the last thing I bought. Seven dollars. Cheap.
Tenczar: I can’t remember what I last bought, but this year, I remember buying the new Lemon Twigs album. I bought the Feist album, Pleasure. I even bought the Randy Newman record, Good Old Boys. That was a good one.
Silverman: The Mac DeMarco record.
Tenczar: I think that was last year. But yeah, I’ve been into Mac DeMarco for the last year. But yeah, I’m kind of hungry for some new stuff. Jay [Cesak], the bass player, in my opinion, has this… And Drew as well. But these guys have their fingers more on the pulse of what’s going on. I need to sit down with Jay and Andrew and get some new stuff in my life.
Silverman: Jay has an encyclopedic knowledge, for sure.
Tenczar: Yeah, it’s crazy. Like, if he was on this phone call, this question might not ever end. MC?
Glaeser: For me, I’ve been listening to Tennis. They just released… I guess it’s an EP. It’s called We Can Die Happy. I love Tennis. Also, Mac DeMarco’s album This Old Dog. I could just listen to that and go about my household chores and chill. Also, Real Estate I’m super into. They have an album out called In Mind, and that’s another album that I can just keep playing on repeat in the background, and just have a good day. But as far as inspiration, I always just listen to my old favorites. But that’s some new stuff that I’ve been jammin’ on.
TYF: Finally, is there anything else that you guys would like to say to the readers before we wrap things up?
Glaeser: Well, we are writing new stuff.
Tenczar: And recording new stuff.
Glaeser: We’ll have at least one coming out in the springtime that I’m really excited about. I’ve been writing a lot lately. I’m actually sitting next to the piano right now. And it’s nice to have that creative boost. But what would we say? I would just say… If you get a chance to come to Austin, ‘cause we don’t have a tour set up just yet, but hopefully we’ll get out of town, please follow us and come see our live shows. I feel like our live shows are kind of the heartbeat of our band. Our dynamic is infectious, and we’re really working on our branding, and I’m having a lot more fun with neon wire and attaching it to my clothing. We just have a lot of fun.
Tenczar: I agree with that. We’re just kind of about having fun, but also hopefully making something that people can connect with if they feel like connecting.
Silverman: Or just moving their booties. Whatever they wanna do.
Glaeser: I really encourage people to experiment with new dance moves when we’re playing. I always want people to be super up-close to us when we play. I don’t like it when they kind of stand in the back. If I’m not flinging my sweat onto your face, something’s wrong.
Tenczar: You’re doing it wrong?
Glaeser: I’m doing it wrong, and also they’re doing it wrong.
Silverman: Those dang audiences, always getting it wrong. I’m just kidding.