Beach Slang are headed to Australia for the very time for Splendour In The Grass 2016 and their own sideshows. These American rockers already have a solid debut album under their belt with a follow up to be released in September. We caught up with singer/songwriter James Alex ahead of their first trip down under.

SCENEzine
So how’s 2016 been for you so far?

James Alex
It’s been alright man. It’s been pretty non stop which is how we like it. We’re not a band that’s good being idle so it’s been good to keep moving and be busy.

SCENEzine
I’ve been lucky enough to hear your forthcoming album A bash of teenage feelings. I guess the one thing that struck me is I didn’t realise you were having a new album so soon.

James Alex
(laughs) Right on man. Well I hope it snuck up on you like a good surprise. Again it goes back to that not being good being idle. I remember telling the label when I wanted to put another record out and they thought I was crazy. It feels real weird to me to not want to have a new record out every year. I feel like I would just get bored. I write songs that’s what I do I can’t imagine not having an outlet to be able to do that. I plan on the next one coming in no more than a year from now. I wanna stay on that pace it feels very right for us.

SCENEzine
Are there any overall themes you wanted to convey with the new album?

James Alex
The first one I described it as like these two minute novels about me and my friends. With the second one we had been on tour the whole time so these songs are about stories from people I met on tour. Sort of seeing myself in them. Writing autobiographically but through a whole new set of eyes it was a really sweet way to do it. This one is written with a little more considered reflectiveness whereas the first one had a little more wild abandoned to it. Maybe because this one I wasn’t just writing about myself and my friends in a carefree way. When I was writing about other peoples stories I wanted to care about them more because I wanted to do their stories correctly. Their was a sense of responsibility.

SCENEzine
“Punks in a disco bar” is the first song you’ve put out their for the world to hear from the new album. Was that an easy choice to make?

James Alex
No it wasn’t man we were going back and forth everyone was weighing in on it. The labels and pretty much everyone in the gang. Ultimately we landed there and everybody was really happy with it. In a lot of ways it sounds like Beach Slang but there’s a little bit of evolution in there. Lyrically I was really pleased with it. It felt like a good starting off point. Picking a single is really hard. It’s like choosing who’s your favourite child. The whole process is weird to me because I don’t write singles I write records (laughs). With that said though we are thrilled and I think it was the absolute right move. Hopefully we were right.

SCENEzine
After listening to the album my favourite track was “Future mixtape for the art kids”. Is their much of a story behind that song?

James Alex
Well thank you man. There’s so many friends of mine and I suppose I’m this way to, so we are these little magnets to each other. I have so many friends that are so gigantically hearted or brilliant or sweet but they just don’t see it in themselves. They see it in everybody else but they just don’t see it in themselves. I wanted to write that for them and all of us. I suppose we all have that unfortunate ability to be down on ourselves. I remember writing that and when I hit on the line “you might be cracked but I won’t let you break” every once in a while I have a moment with myself where I’m like wow that was a nice gift the rock n roll gods gave me. Again it comes back to that sense of responsibility if I’m going to write this song for the people I’ve met then I want to deliver. Hopefully I did with that song. That song leads off the record very purposefully it sets the tone musically and lyrically for the record.

SCENEzine
I really loved the album cover art for your first album The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us. Can you tell us how that came about?

James Alex
I do all the art for Beach Slang that was my day job before rock n roll started paying the bills. My friend John is an amazing photographer. He had this little exhibit up and I saw this photograph of this sort of shy hiding yourself pose in this infinite space having an ocean right behind her. There was something about it that just smacked me right in the guts. I saw it and immediately was like that’s the cover of the record if he’s willing to let us use the photograph. He was really sweet about it. There’s a hopefulness that drips over the photograph even though it’s a isolating hidden pose. I love the duality of that symbolism.

beach slang cover

SCENEzine
Beach Slang audiences seem to be divided in that the punk rock community feel you belong to them but at the same time indie rock also wants to claim you. What’s your take on that?

James Alex
To us when people ask what kind of band are you I say we are a rock n roll band. I wanna belong anywhere and everywhere that people will have us. My whole thing for us is like if there was a neon sign welcoming you into Beach Slang it would say all are welcome. This is a non exclusionary club. Don’t fight over us we can all hang out together let’s just have one big party.

We will be at shows and see punks and indie kids and normals (laughs) or however we want to define these cliques all in the same place for the night. I get this from support bands that we take out so much saying that’s the sweetest room they’ve ever played to meaning the calibre of person in that room. To me that’s the whole thing with Slang it feels magnetic just good people who forgot or need to remember how necessary they are in the world. Typically at least in my life the sweetest are the quietest that don’t speak up. But you get a couple of hundred together in a room and all of a sudden that light goes on in their head. It’s been really cool to see people be hopelessly optimistic. Wear their hearts on their sleeve out in the world and not be ashamed to be that.

SCENEzine
It guess it goes without saying your excited to be coming to Australia very soon. Is there anything you’d like to do down here besides play shows?

James Alex
Yeah man we already have a surf lesson set up. We surf but we figured let’s go down there and do it right. For me personally I just want to dive into the culture. I want to go to good bars, meet good people, eat good food. We are excited to do the as expected and cliché as it is like seeing a koala or kangaroo. The things that Americans hear about but never get the chance to do.

SCENEzine
We discovered Beach Slang while over in Chicago for Riot Fest last year. Do you feel it’s important people discover new bands and not just stick with what they already know?

James Alex
Not only is it exciting to discover new bands it’s necessary. Beach Slang got really lucky when we formed their was this sort of rock n roll renaissance going on. Where American culture had become burned out on the auto tuned fabricated label manufactured junk. The desire to hold a vinyl record again and go to a club where things will be loud, drunk and messy but fucking real and honest. There was a desire for that again. I’m so glad it’s back it’s great to see that digging into things again to really find something that connects with you. Not just listening to something because some DJ said you should. There’s something about wanting to dig into records and find something that’s exciting man. I guess rock n roll just has that will to survive.

SCENEzine
Apologies if you’ve been asked many times but how did the band name come about?

James Alex
We were making the list of name and I’m from a beach town in Rhode Island. I used to skate with this girl when I was a small kid. I say rad, gnarly and totally and all those things a lot. She would always playfully make fun of the way I spoke. She made it a language and she called it beach slang. I put that on the list. Then I read this interview with a band and they send something to the effect if you have beach in your name you can’t possibly be taken seriously. I remember calling the guys and was like well we are going to be called Beach Slang now I’m going to make this thing matter.

It was to me such a foolish statement. In my heart I’m always going to be a twelve year old punk who needs some grain to push back against. It was just a nonsensical statement to make. I just wanted to prove them wrong. There’s been some bad band names throughout the history of music I suppose for that to define the calibre of that band or what they might mean someday it felt cool to have our little petty rebellion against that statement. So it’s a combination of that sweet childhood memory with my friend and the punch back against that statement.

SCENEzine
I really love your song “too late to die young” from your first album. Was it hard putting something raw and honest like that on the album?

James Alex
Thank you for that I really appreciate you saying that. No it definitely wasn’t a hard decision to put it on the album. The whole thing for me with Beach Slang is honesty. I’m not into manufacturing a gimmick or an image. We are wildly multi-faceted human beings. There’s days we are happy, days we are sad and days we are depressed. I don’t want to paint myself into one thing. I want to do what feels right when it feels right to be an honest reflection. With Beach Slang there’s no painting into a corner. To me there was always room to put a song with an acoustic guitar and a cello on a rock n roll record. It never felt odd to me.

SCENEzine
Can you leave us a last message for your Aussie fans?

James Alex
Thanks so much for having us. Thanks for believing in this thing that we are doing. I can not wait to see you. I’m a hugger if you don’t want to be hugged at a show run in the other direction.
We are going to play our guts out and we can’t wait to be there.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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