Try the Pie’s ‘New Dust’ Contemplates Beauty In a Season of Loss

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Try the Pie's Bean Tupou. (Courtesy of Try the Pie; illustration: Kelly Heigert)

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage here.

The last two years have been colored by loss and grief for so many—whether the literal loss of loved ones, or the profound reckoning the pandemic has forced on so many people’s careers, health, living spaces or social communities.

Bean Tupou, guitarist and vocalist of the Bay Area indie punk outfit Try the Pie, is no different. “I lost some family members and friends in 2020, so connecting with my family was a big part of my life during the pandemic,” says Tupou, who grew up in San Jose and moved to San Francisco in 2016. “Those losses took me a while to work through.”

“New Dust,” Try the Pie’s first new release since their excellent 2015 full-length Domestication, approaches the topic with a deceptive sweetness. An uptempo, melodic grunge track with heavy guitars, harmonies and an earworm of a hook, it culminates in a cacophony of reverb before Tupou delivers the final refrain: “And it scares me to know that I’m like dust / and it scares me to know that I’m exactly what you want.” It all calls to mind the sweet-salty pull of ’90s indie titans like Juliana Hatfield or the Breeders.

“It’s based on fleeting thoughts someone might have specifically after a loved one dies,” says Tupou. “I think it’s more of a reflection of how beautiful it can be to be close to someone and how finite that is.”

Recorded with Different Fur’s Grace Coleman at El Studio in San Francisco, the track shows off the new full-band sound after a few years as mostly a solo act: Bailey Lupo joined the band on bass in 2015, and second guitarist Laine Barriga joined in 2018; drummer Nick Lopez and Tupou are original members.

“New Dust” is also Try the Pie’s first release since signing to the Philadelphia-based, queer-run label Get Better Records, a move that Tupou says has opened up new possibilities for the group, adding that they have plans to release more music within the year. So no, fans won't have to wait until 2029 for the next record.

“The last seven years, personally, were a huge period of both growth and change for me, and I was definitely focused on other aspects of my life (aside from music), and I honestly felt out of practice and out of touch in some ways,” says Tupou. “Signing with them has helped me get back on the horse.”