Shaky Knees 2016: Beach Slang X Vinyl Mag

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beach slang

The “rads,” “totally’s” and “dudes” of James Alex’s vocabulary speak entirely to the nature of the band’s unique name. Since 2013, Beach Slang has stolen the hearts of punky indie rock lovers everywhere, earning them a loyal following and huge success on their debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us. We sat down with Alex prior to this year’s Shaky Knees to discuss an exciting future for the band and learned why their next album might just take you back to the days of your favorite John Hughes 80s flick.

Vinyl Mag: So are you guys getting excited for Shaky Knees?

James Alex: Yeah, Atlanta has been really cool to us. We did that Wrecking Ball thing and that was amazing so yeah can’t wait.

VM: So you started out playing with the band Weston…how does your approach in making music with Beach Slang differ from that experience?

JA: Yeah definitely, because that was the whole figuring it out, kids you know, not really knowing precisely what we were doing, just wanting to be loud and have fun. That whole deal. But we had no blueprint for how the hell to do any of it, we were just flying by the seat of our pants which was fun and rebellious. But now getting into Beach Slang, we’ve kind of been around the block a couple times and I just kind of know how to figure out things a little bit. Still trying to keep some of that rebellion in there, but the chaos is a little more organized I’d say with Beach Slang.

 VM: Is there any story behind the name Beach Slang or did you guys just sort of come up with it?

 JA: Yeah well it started off as bands do, just making a list of names. And I used to skate with this girl Elizabeth, and I say rad and totally and stuff like that a lot and she kind of lovingly makes fun of that so she called it a language, she called it beach slang. So I added that to the list, and then I read this interview with another band and they said something about ‘if you have beach in your name you can’t be taken seriously’ and as soon as I read that I was like okay, I’m gonna call this thing Beach Slang and I’m gonna make it matter. So inadvertently my childhood friend Elizabeth named this band. But reading that thing from that band really fortified why I thought it was important to keep that name.

 VM: Yeah kind of prove them wrong right?

JA: Absolutely, it’s that little punk that’s still hiding out in me. I need some grain to go against.

VM: Love it. Where do you guys draw your inspiration from when writing songs? Do you have any artists you’re influenced by, any particular sounds that you really like?

JA: Yeah for sure. I mean I’ve talked about this before and I feel like I broke it down into a little three-part thing, like how I approach when I’m sitting down to write songs. And the first thing I do is I sort of pretend I’m scoring a John Hughes film, and then I think to myself you know, what kind of melodies would Paul Westerberg put to it and then once I have that, what sort of words would Bukowski put to Westerberg’s melodies. So that’s really lofty ambitions, but those are definitely sort of the holy trinity to me. Sort of John Hughes coming of age films. And then Westerberg and Bukowski. It’s a long list but if I had to really sort of boil it down, like I said, they would be the holy trinity.

VM: Yeah, that’s a cool process. So when you’re playing festivals like Shaky Knees, do you have any pre-show rituals or routines?

JA: Not a whole lot, we sort of drink enough to shake off the nerves, but we really don’t have any ritual. You know things have been going fairly well for us, so I make sure I wear the same belt–sort of the things we do in our work we don’t change those. But I don’t know that we have anything before we go on like we have to do. We don’t have a chant or anything which is sort of like, you know, drink a little bit and go out and have fun. I’m sure at some point we’ll fall into some pre-show ritual but right now we’re into that flying by the seat of our pants, they want us to be kind of reckless and unscripted on all levels.

VM: yeah I mean that makes for a good love performance anyways, just kind of going with the flow.

JA: Precisely.

VM: So what’s your favorite song to perform live…do you guys have any cool covers you like to play? Or your favorite song of your own to perform live?

JA: Yeah I guess I’ll speak to the covers cause our songs it’s kind of like choosing your favorite kid, you know? But I don’t know, we do like “Bastards of Young” by the Replacements, I always love doing that. “Boxcar” by Jawbreaker. We just started working on “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, as a band. But I played it by myself a couple shows and it was super fun so the band’s like we should get that together, so we’ve been working on it in sound check and I suppose we’ll be playing that live eventually and that will be cool.

VM: That sounds awesome. So what can we expect next from you guys? Do you have any news on an upcoming album?

JA: Yeah, we just got out of the studio before we left for this tour and the record is done, it just got mastered, it comes out in September. So we get pretty restless when we’re idle so we just try to keep shoving forward. We’re touring Europe, Australia, Canada…like all summer and then September the record comes out and we start the whole cycle back up again.

VM: Sounds like you will stay busy. Does this record have kind of the same sound as your previous work or did you experiment with anything new?

JA: I mean it’s definitely from that world of course, but it definitely evolved a bit, I think a lot more of my loves for shoegaze, and sort of British new wave to this thing. Like a lot of Catherine Wheel and Swervedriver, Chapterhouse and stuff. So it’s still definitely rooted in that 80’s, sort of Minneapolis sound but you know my record collection is bigger than just like The Maps and stuff so I wanted to dive into that a little bit more. I don’t want to become Xeroxed copies of ourselves you know what I mean. So it’s definitely, there’s an evolvement that I hope people will dig and connect with. But it goes without saying that I feel really great about the record and I can’t wait for it to come out.

 

A junior studying journalism and music business at the University of Georgia, Camren spends her time procrastinating under the discover tab on Spotify and taking pictures of her dog. After spending the summer abroad, she has a remarkable appreciation for good gelato, cheap wine and British accents. With favorites like Simon and Garfunkel, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay and Moon Taxi, she is open to a variety of musical genres and is a connoisseur of any and all music festivals. In her spare time you can find her binge watching her latest obsession on Netflix or dreaming of ways to meet and marry John Krasinski.

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  1. Pingback: Beach Slang Interview – Camren Skelton

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