Beauty Pill is an American rock band from Washington, D.C., based largely around the songs and ideas of singer/guitarist/producer Chad Clark.

Beauty Pill
OriginWashington, D.C., United States
GenresRock, electronic
Years active2001–present
LabelsDischord, Northern Spy, DeSoto
MembersBasla Andolsun
Chad Clark
Drew Doucette
Abram Goodrich
Erin Nelson
Devin Ocampo
Past membersJean Cook
Ryan Nelson
Rachel Burke
Joanne Gholl
Chad Molter
Holly Montoya

Beauty Pill's music is generally characterized by cinematic arrangements, angular melodies, and electronic textures. This detailed, atmospheric aesthetic contrasts the more raw punk of its label-mates on Dischord Records.

This sensibility reflects Clark's parallel profession as a producer and engineer. His discography includes work with The Dismemberment Plan,[1] Sparklehorse, Fugazi, Blakroc, Bernie Worrell, Marc Ribot, Mary Timony, The Evens, Lungfish, Bob Mould, The Wilderness, The Caribbean, Craig Wedren, among others.


Trio period (2001–2002)Edit

Following the dissolution of their previous band Smart Went Crazy, Chad Clark and Abram Goodrich formed a new project.

They invited Joanne Gholl and the trio made an EP called The Cigarette Girl from the Future. studio experimentation and simple tunes. It received critical praise from The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Pitchfork (which rated the record a 9.0).

However, the attempt to transform into a touring band proved difficult and this incarnation of Beauty Pill dissolved before ever playing a show.

Quintet period (2003–2004)Edit

Rachel Burke, a recent Seattle-DC transplant and fan of the Cigarette Girl EP joined the band. They went on to recruit bassist Basla Andolsun and guitarist Drew Doucette, along with drummer Ryan Nelson, all of whom had been in bands Clark had recorded. The quintet released a lo-fi EP called You Are Right To Be Afraid followed shortly by a full-length album called The Unsustainable Lifestyle.

Rachel Burke announced that she was moving back to Seattle in order to be closer to her family, drawing the quintet period to a close.

"Ann the Word"/Sextet period (2004–2007)Edit

Jean Cook replaced Rachel Burke as singer. Ryan Nelson left to form the band Soccer Team and was replaced by Devin Ocampo (also a veteran of Smart Went Crazy).

With Cook singing, Beauty Pill published the demo for a new song called “Ann The Word” via the band's Myspace page. At nearly 7 minutes, the song differed from the more "rock" sound of the quintet period. With electronic sounds and quasi-Japanese sonorities, “Ann The Word” was the most complex/technological thing Beauty Pill had ever released.

The song went on to stream 100,000+ times. In interviews, Clark said “‘Ann The Word’ changed my life.”

To embrace this new sensibility, Cook began to use a Macbook as an instrument onstage.

Chad Clark illnessEdit

In the fall of 2007, Clark became gravely ill,[2] stricken with viral cardiomyopathy, a rare condition resulting from a virus invading and inflaming the heart. The origin of the virus was unknown. Clark did not reveal his illness until February, 2008, when he underwent emergency open heart surgery to save his life.[3] The surgery was successful and Clark spent the next two years recovering and making music privately.

Return to public work (2009–2010)Edit

In the fall of 2009, Clark founded a Washington, DC, performance series called Story/Stereo.[4] Taking place at the Writer’s Center, the series blended literature and music with Clark as curator and host. The series received an endowment from the NEA.[5]

In January, 2010, the band wrote and recorded the score for a play called[6] The work was a collaboration with choreographer Paulina Guerrero and director Marcus Kyd. The music for found favor with critics, with The A.V. Club calling it "brilliant and vividly balletic", The Washington Post calling it "smartly evocative" and the City Paper calling it "lyrical and convulsive, channeling [the spirit of the play] perfectly."

The Immersive Ideal projectEdit

In 2012, Beauty Pill was commissioned by Artisphere, a DC art museum, to record its new album in view of the public.[7] In so doing, the band turned their recording process into a public art exhibit. The resulting recording would later be released as an album.

2015 releasesEdit

In 2015, Beauty Pill released the full-length LP Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are, the result of the Immersive Ideal recording sessions, as well as a vinyl reissue of The Cigarette Girl from the Future. In a performance for NPR's Tiny Desk, the band performed songs from the new record, using the monome as a sample sequencer.[8]


In 2016 and 2017, the band went on tour with Arto Lindsay, playing mostly museums and art spaces.

Jean Cook was replaced by Erin Nelson in fall 2018.[9]

In February 2020, the band released the 2010 soundtrack to The album is titled Sorry You're Here.



Extended playsEdit


  1. ^ Richards, Chris (January 21, 2011). "Be specific: Chad Clark, co-producer of the Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I," on how the album might have been very different". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  2. ^ Solarski, Matthew (February 25, 2008). "Beauty Pill's Clark Undergoes Successful Heart Surgery". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Beauty Pill Myspace Blog". March 9, 2008.
  4. ^ Leitko, Aaron (Sep 18, 2009). "Chad Clark on Story/Stereo @ The Writers Center". Washington City Paper.
  5. ^ Little, Ryan (July 13, 2010). "Story/Stereo Nabs NEA Grant in Time for Its Second Season". Washington City Paper.
  6. ^ Fischer, Jonathan (Jan 27, 2010). "Two Years after Nearly Dying, Beauty Pill Leader Writes Songs for a Play about Suicide". Washington City Paper.
  7. ^ Richards, Chris (2011-06-22). "Local news: Beauty Pill to record new album at Artisphere". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  8. ^ Lars Gotrich (2018-08-29). "Beauty Pill: Tiny Desk Concert". Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  9. ^ Kiviat, Steve (September 14, 2018). "On Tues. in a post shared w/ the public on Facebook, Jean Cook said she is leaving Beauty Pill. Her last gig with them is tonight at a $49 benefit w/ panel discussion @ Howard Theatre in DC. She notes she has deep love and respect for the ...commitment of the group's members".
  10. ^ "Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-11-25.

External linksEdit