Like a lot of bands these days, Beirut didn’t get its start in a garage, but rather in a bedroom. That’s where a young Zach Condon started recording songs on his own. But Condon had acquired musical influences beyond what the average teen is usually exposed to; legend has it that, while traveling throughout Europe after quitting high school, Condon became enchanted with Balkan Folk and traditional Eastern European sounds, an influence that became a big part of Beirut’s style.
Beirut started officially coming together in Albuquerque, N.M., when Condon enlisted Jeremy Barnes (ex-Neutral Milk Hotel member and leader of his own group, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (also of AHAAH) to help him record Beirut’s surprising debut, Gulag Orkestar. Condon handled the bulk of instrumental duties, playing everything from horns and accordion to clarinet and glockenspiel.
Condon signed with Jersey label Ba Da Bing!, then relocated to Brooklyn and assembled a live band. Gulag came out in 2006 and quickly became a critical smash. Since the debut, Beirut’s fan base continued to increase as Condon released a few unusual but fascinating EPs, including an all electronic one and one recorded with a 19-piece Mexican band (the divergent EPs were packaged together as March of the Zapotec/Holland).
Beirut plays Bogart's Friday with Ramesh. Go here for Mike Breen's full Sound Advice.