Although its members reside in Brooklyn, N.Y., it's funny to call Beirut a "Brooklyn band" — its sound, like its history, is so worldly. The story of wanderlust begins in Santa Fe, N.M., where singer-songwriter Zach Condon grew up.
As a teenager, Condon would sit in his bedroom for hours, making music. At 17, he decided to travel in Europe; while there, he developed a love of Balkan folk music. Later, in Paris, he encountered a band of hooligans that marched around town with busted-up tubas and trumpets, which gave Condon the idea to put together a ramshackle orchestra of his own. Rather than waiting to assemble a crew, Condon returned to his bedroom in New Mexico and made his debut, Gulag Orkestar, on his own. He eventually found the right bandmates with whom to travel the world, soaking up influences far and wide.
When Condon joined me at WFUV, he talked fondly of his nomadic lifestyle, but he also expressed a desire to maintain stability in his life. He's finally ready to lay down some roots, which in his case means buying a house, getting a dog and looking homeward for musical influences. In fact, while visiting his parents in New Mexico, Condon found some of the old recordings he'd made as a teenager, and ended up incorporating some of that material into The Rip Tide. One of these re-appropriated tunes, "East Harlem," contains the telling line, "The sound will bring me home again."
Hear Condon and the rest of his band discuss the album and perform some of their new material in WFUV's Studio A.