A Frustrating Mess

Beulah leader Miles Kurosky's dark nights lead to pure pop sunshine

The clumsy set ratcheted up tensions over the uncertain future of the album and added fire to the long-simmering personality conflicts in the band. Beulah was on the verge of breaking up.

"Everyone was in a bad mood," recalls Kurosky of this past winter, "and nobody wanted to do anything. I think everyone just looked at each other and said, "This isn't fun anymore. Why are we even doing it?'"

With the band's future up in the air, Kurosky flew back to Atlanta that same month to let things cool down. Shortly thereafter, Velocette announced a Sept. 11 release date for The Coast Is Never Clear. The promotional juggernaut began humming, spitting out promotional CDs, scheduling interviews, and setting up release parties. Most important, the release date gave the band something to look forward to.

Even so, the hardest work is yet to come. For better or worse, Kurosky will now have to own up to all the personal tales on the record, especially the family matters. For instance, in "A Good Man Is Easy to Kill," Kurosky realizes he could lose his father without ever having shared a loving moment with him.

"My dad is an alcoholic, and he broke his neck when he went flying through his windshield," Kurosky explains. "And then he was in traction and was supposed to die. ... You just want to have some sort of communication with this man that you find you really don't know in the end. And he doesn't know you, and you end up talking about some sports team that you both like. Or the weather. It's like, "This thing that you went through almost killed us. Listen, [love] is the thing we really want.'"

When asked if he's looking forward to his father hearing the song -- with its chorus of "Give up your love/ I promise it's not gonna kill you" -- Kurosky blanches.

"No. No. See, I get even chills just talking about it. It scares the shit out of me. It scares me, because what if this man hears this song? And what's he going to say?"

For Kurosky, "A Good Man Is Easy to Kill" is just one of a dozen difficult conversations waiting for him once The Coast Is Never Clearis released. Of course, there's also the more pressing issue of his bipolar disorder. As one can see from his serious mood the day before our interview, having a brutally brilliant record on its way to the stores is no protection against the headaches, insomnia, and suicidal lows of mental illness.

Our intense conversation leaves us there, in the restaurant, in nowhere West Berkeley. Our plates are cleared and the check lies waiting to be paid. The interview is finished, but as I pack the microphone away, Kurosky starts revving up, talking about a recent interview with Guitar Player magazine.

"I told them how much I hated every guitarist that was in their magazine," he says gleefully, his eyes animated for the first time since we got on the subject of his depression. "It's true! The guitarists in their magazine suck!"

For a second, it looks like the pit bull has come out to feed. But then, just as quickly as it came on, the gleam fades. Kurosky shifts in his seat and looks away. He's gone somewhere less venomous, less manic. For the time being, it's the best possible place to be.

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