“For us – all of us”
The past 12 months has been a rollercoaster for Philadelphia’s Beach Slang. With debut full-length ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’ receiving widespread praise upon its release last October, the quartet has toured relentlessly on both sides of the Atlantic since. Their wave of momentum came to a temporary halt in the spring with an unpleasant “last show” in Salt Lake City, before becoming a three-piece following the departure of drummer JP Flexner. Nevertheless, they have soldiered on and are now set to release their second album – ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’.
The record opens with vocalist and guitarist James Alex stating “Play it loud. Play it fast. Play me something that will always last”. It’s a sentiment that radiates throughout the record, as well as when you speak to Alex. Since emerging in 2013, every Beach Slang release is carried a strong bond between the band and its growing fanbase. “I preface all the records with this saying “For us – all of us”, that’s important to me,” explains Alex as we caught up with him at Leeds Festival.
It is that aforementioned unity that serves as the lyrical spine on ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’. Written while out on the road, the album is influenced by the stories told by fans as Alex explains:
“The songs on the first record, I describe them as two minute novels about me, my friends and the thing we have done. On this record, I wrote the narrative of people I met on the road, through their eyes, the people that connected with the first record. So lyrically it’s very different from the perspective it comes from. It’s like “cool I wrote these songs about me and my friends on the first record” because that was my world, but now my world is all these beautiful hearts I’ve got meet touring around. Now I’m going to write about you. It’s that cyclical thing; if they’re not around, then Beach Slang isn’t around. I want to plant that flag and let them know that.”
Stylistically, ‘A Loud Bash…’ doesn’t stray far from the band’s basement-infused punk rock, yet does subtly start to weave in other influences. “I’ve bought my love for shoegaze, Britpop and new wave into it. It starts to stretch a little bit,” says Alex, “it’s rawer than the first record in terms of how we approached the recording.”
With the bands hectic touring schedule combined with their hunger to release a record a year, James along with bassist Ed McNulty and lead guitarist Ruben Gallego, embraced a restless, yet testing, work ethic of writing on tour.
“It was the only way that could happen. We had such a small window when we got home to record. I wrote it and we were demoing on the road, sent the guys the demos. We rehearsed twice and recorded it in nine days. We’re learning how to work more efficiently because out of necessity.”
The combination of efficiency and necessity comes from James’ DIY punk mentality; the need to write, record and play shows as much as possible. Throughout the band’s discography, there’s a freshness to their delivery and purpose. James’ writing is served as honest and uncomplicated.
“All the real, intellectual thinking part of it is done in the demoing then once it goes to the band, it’s like “now let’s be reckless and devil may care” so it has that loose bravado to it. I just don’t want the soul to get massaged out of it. Over-rehearsing is the right idea I suppose if you’re surgeon, but for a rock’n’ roll band, it deserves to be a little dangerous, like it could fly off the rails.”
“There’s no distance between band and listener with Beach Slang.”
Now as they release ‘A Loud Bash…’, it is clear Beach Slang on back on track after their minor line-up hiccup in the spring. “We’re wired to be a four-piece. I want to be a band. We’re going to figure it out soon and then we’re going to be a quartet again” reassures Alex. While a fourth visit to the UK in 2016 is scheduled for November. “You’re gracious enough to keep having us, so we’re going to keep coming back. Those shows will be cool as it’ll be the first shows (here) with the new record out, so there will be that cool new energy.”
The shows follow a busy summer consisting of club shows and festival appearances. With stages varying in size, James and his band are at home in more intimate surroundings; “that’s the world we come from. I want to interact. There’s no distance between band and listener with Beach Slang. I like that intimate “lets sweat on each other” while we’re doing it.”
However, with attention on the band growing with each visit, James hints at Beach Slang’s stage show evolving this November:
“We’ve got a couple of production tricks up our sleeve. We’re going to try punching out a little bit; neon signs and weirdo lights. We’re going to start acting like this is a career, so we’re going to start thinking about it that way.”
Despite their admittance to being “a real band”, witnessing Beach Slang and speaking to James reassures you that they will continue to be the heart-on-sleeve punks that thrive in DIY basements. Their collective mentality of unity and honesty gives way to a level playing field where ego’s are checked out at the door. “I’ve said it before, but for me ego is the embarrassment of rock ‘n’ roll. I never want that divide to happen in Beach Slang,” closes James.
‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’ by Beach Slang is released on September 23rd on Big Scary Monsters.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)