The End: Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, May 25th, 2024  

The End: Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths

Dogs in Heaven

May 26, 2023 Photography by Frances Carter Bookmark and Share

To conclude the week, we ask Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths some questions about endings and death.

The New Zealand band formed in 2014, with vocalist/guitarist Stokes originally meeting guitarist Jonathan Pearce in high school. The current lineup also features bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Tristan Deck. The band’s harmony-laced indie pop backs up Stokes’ often-wry and autobiographical lyrics. After all, the band’s 2018-released debut album was amusingly titled Future Me Hates Me and their 2022-released third album is titled Expert in a Dying Field. The album was launched by “Silence is Golden,” a decidedly loud and energetic first single in contrast to its title. “The song is about stress and anxiety manifesting as an intolerance to noise,” said Stokes in a press release announcing the album. “Where each new sound makes you more and more stressed.”

Expert in a Dying Field was mainly recorded at Pearce’s studio in Auckland in late 2021, until a four-month national COVID-19 lockdown forced the band to work on the album remotely. The album was finished and mixed during a U.S. tour at the start of 2022, including during a three-day session in Los Angeles.

Read on as Stokes discusses how she’d very much not like to die, what songs she’d like played at her deathbed and funeral, her favorite endings, and why hell is trying decide on where to eat.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

Man… I really don’t want to die. I am very afraid of death, and of anyone I love dying. Very scared. So I would like to be 100 but somehow in really good shape (this is unlikely) and also everyone I love is still alive. Maybe I get struck by lightning or something.

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

I think something cheerful and distracting. Maybe “Skymall” by Vulfpeck.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

“More Adventurous” by Rilo Kiley. I’d like Jenny Lewis and my best friend Chelsea Jade to sing it together. I’d come back to life for that I reckon.

What’s your favorite ending to a movie?

I love Marta sipping from her coffee mug at the end of Knives Out.

What’s your favorite last line in a book?

When Big Nutbrown Hare hits Little Nutbrown Hare with “... and back.” He really got him there.

What’s your favorite series finale last ever episode of a TV show?

I think series finales are usually bad, right? There’s so much pressure, so many loose ends to tie up. 30 Rock is probably my favorite comfort food show. I watched it back to front so many times, and I know the last seasons are a bit strained. I get a bit teary when Liz and Tracy say goodbye in that last episode though.

What’s your favorite last song on an album?

“Road to Joy” on [Bright Eyes’] I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

Bressa Creeting Cake’s self-titled record from 1997. They are a cult NZ band that were released on Flying Nun. The music is hard to explain, but the songs are great. “A Chip That Sells Millions” and “Egyptian Tanker” are a couple of my favorites.

What’s your favorite way a band broke up?

Jonathan was at the last Mint Chicks gig where they apparently came to blows and broke up right there onstage. I don’t think I’d say it is a “favorite,” that’s not very nice, but I guess it was memorable?

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?

My mum’s Nasi Goreng with Sambal Goreng Tempeh and Sambal Telur.

What’s your concept of the afterlife?

I can’t bring myself to believe there really is one, which is I think part of why I’m so terrified of death. It was probably the hardest thing to accept when I started losing my faith.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

I mean the version I grew up with seemed pretty great to be honest (my mum is Catholic). Everyone you love is there, everyone is wearing white linens. If you can guarantee dogs go there, I’m sold.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

I’m so hungry but I’m with a large group of people and I have to decide where to go but they just keep rejecting my suggestions forever. Every now and then we decide on a place but we go there and they won’t accept a large group without a booking. The process starts over.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

I’d like to be a kererū on Tiritiri Matangi Island, which is a bird sanctuary island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Kererū are big, green woodpigeons with tiny heads. I’d like to be able to fly, and on Tiri I’d be safe from predators. Kererū also famously sometimes get drunk on fermented fruit, and I think that would be fun.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?

I’d like my songs to be remembered. I don’t mind myself being remembered so much. Imagine writing a song that became a standard or a folk song, a song that people played for years after you were gone, without knowing who wrote it? That would be pretty wild.

What would you like your last words to be?

I love you.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 70 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, our My Favorite Movie Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.