Health&Beauty is a long-standing musical project based in Chicago. It has chilled out inside the realities of DIY tours, living and making records in rehearsal spaces, exploring musical possibilities and trying to connect. Health&Beauty travels widely in the world of sound but always arrives at the word Heavy.
Formed by Brian J Sulpizio (vocals/guitar), of Ohio, USA, in the early 00’s, Health&Beauty trickled lyrics inspired by Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Mirah and Phil Elvrum through a guitar/bass/drums quintet, sounding unabashedly like Sonic Youth. They splashed in Chicago but a record of the live group never materialized as they made the effort to record themselves. Bandmates moved on but Sulpizio finished recording the songs in a dilapidated warehouse in Garfield Park, on Chicago’s west side, while also beginning to record some friends, becoming more comfortable with the computer and multitrack recording as an instrument. The record sucks but lessons were learned.
Enamored with the listening-oriented musicianship of Chicago’s AACM, Umbrella, and certain realms of noise, Sulpizio took note and began to rethink his approach to songcraft and arrangement. Meeting Ben Boye (keys) during this transition, they began playing together and were able to move the music into more exciting realms of rhythm and harmony. They made WINTERMAGIC with drummer Marc Riordan and bassists Toby Summerfield and Andrew Young, with guest appearances by other friends. This record, still incorporating a great deal of computer magic, became a sort of benchmark to be met by a live incarnation of the group in the future, while OUR LADY and GUNS explored Sulpizio’s and Boye’s collaboration in stripped-down form.
Frank Rosaly joined with Sulpizio and Boye in 2012. The band popped, with written interplay at an all-time high and the fluidity of the three parties’ individual skill to not only represent the musical ideas they brought together, but to push them and pull them apart and smash them back together in a never-ending exploration of what it means to Have a Song. We are not talking about a jam band, but about a band whose songs can shift meaningfully within their structures. Health&Beauty workshopped the songs on NO SCARE for months to bring them to the place they are on the recording, with Theo Karon running the session. Performed live, the songs on the record take on new life while soon-to-be recorded material gets a bath in the free space.
Photo by Julia Dratel