Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Interview with James of Beach Slang

I’m so happy to finally be posting this interview. So Beach Slang made the record of the year and I'm absolutely infatuated with these songs. Thanks to James for taking the time out to answer some questions.

. Hi, James! How are you doing?

I'm doing rather well. I just (like minutes ago) saw some Beach Slang photographs we recently shot and, man, I hardly look as uncomfortable as I felt. So, yeah, I'll take it.

First off, introduce yourself and members of the band:

James (I write songs and sing them with my guitar), Ed (he plays the bass like magic) and JP (he plays the drums like thunder).

and how Beach Slang originally came together?

The first of us coming together was Ed booking an Ex Friends show. He and JP become mates and started to toss around the idea of starting a band. JP liked my smile and my songs so he wrote me. We got together, played a few minutes of some dumb thing I had lying around and knew we had something. And now we are Beach Slang.

Why did you choose the band name Beach Slang?

I used to skate with this girl who referred to the way I spoke as 'beach slang'. I guess it's all the 1980s Valley Girl speak I can't shake. Anyway, she was a real sweet heart and a much better skater. And that dumb phrase just never slipped off. Sometimes, it makes me remember how soft some of my growing up was. I like hanging on to those small parts.

"Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?" has been out for just about a month now. How has the reaction been from fans?

Wildly sweet. I mean, I walk around now feeling fuzzed up and flattered and humbled and all the good things you want to feel. I cross-my-heart plan to smother all of them with hugs on tour. My arms and heart are ready.

What are your thoughts on the finished product?

I think it's exactly what it's supposed to be. We rehearsed it for a month, recorded it in a day and mixed it in another. It's not perfect, but it's honest. There's no gunk to it. Just 3 guys plugging in and bleeding it out. I think that's what people are connecting with.

What’s your experience been like with Dead Broke Rekerds?

Mike and Dead Broke have been bullseye. I mean, it's why we sent our demos to him. If I'm going to hand out these things I've been working so hard on, I want it to be to someone I respect and trust and find incredibly charming. Mike is all of those things.

How do you adapt to downloading music illegally? Do you support downloading music?

I don't. It's all very Abbie Hoffman to me. If a kid downloads a Beach Slang song and emails it out to a whole bunch of friends, that's a whole bunch of people getting turned on to what we're doing, you know, instead of just one. And I'm stoked about that. If we're really doing something that connects, that deserves to have a place, it will.

How do you think small bands make a profit?

Play shows and play them hard, be honest and humble, write things that people will give a damn about. Right? Most importantly, don't worry about making a profit. Worry about making something so fucking heart-swelling that it makes you not worry about money. Do that and you're there.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics?

Not necessary, but a good idea, yeah? If you don't have any of those things, go work for some gutless corporation or something. What indie kids built is meant to be cared for. Look, I know I tend to romanticize the underground scene, but it deserves that. I hold it as this place where outsiders can belong, where kids think thinking is a good thing. The ethic-less, sadly, will always have a back door to sneak in, but they tend to die very early, thankful scene deaths. That's why we're still here.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk scene?

I don't have any gripes. I'm hardly sure I believe in them. I mean, in the scene, I surround myself with people that I believe, that mean it all. Once you do that, you're bulletproof. I leave drama to people who are fascinated by it. I am not one of them.

Could you please talk about your involvement in the DIY punk community, how you got involved and how it affects your lives?

The first show I ever went to was The Ramones at this hall in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. I was a kid, like pre-teen. I walked in there and it was like fucking outer space. I loved every big part of it. When The Ramones came on, kids went loose. But what I really remember, what really made me know I was going to be a lifer was getting knocked down in all that good energy and picked right back up by a bunch of older, smiling punks. Fuck yeah. Man, I honestly just got goosebumps writing that bit. I always tell my Mom that was the day I was actually born. She hates that.

How long have you been playing in bands?

Since 1995.

What's your motivation

I'm pushed by the same thing now that I was then—too much energy, too much social awkwardness and too much quiet angst.

and how has it changed over the years?

You know, at its basest level, it's still pretty much the same thing—restless kids picking up guitars, misfits looking for a place to belong. Dear Scene, don't ever change.

I was actually going to ask you what you were listening to lately. What are your favorite recent releases?

I listen to very little. Whenever I do, it starts to sneak into things I'm writing and then I feel thief-y. The only time I really ever have music on is when I'm doing art stuff. It feels less intentionally absorbable that way. So yeah, for that stuff I just looked at the last five things I played: Jay Reatard, The Only Ones, Swervedriver, Richard Hell and Diiv.

I am huge Weston fan, Got Beat Up is one of the best albums ever. What does the future for Weston/Beach Slang look like?

Ah, thanks so much. It's strange, my throat got all damaged a few years back and those songs are so hard to sing now. I listen to them and feel like I could've been a shoo-in for the Vienna Boys' Choir, you know? Anyway, the future for Weston is pretty non-existent. I mean, but who knows, right?

For Beach Slang, it's pretty blinding, man. We just signed with The Agency Group, just finished writing our second e.p., have a run of shows with Crow Bait in June and, of course, are gearing up for Fest in the fall. It will be my first time there. And, honestly, I'm pretty much just trying to shove time forward.
Thanks for your time. Any last words/wishes?

Thanks for having me

Umm, listen to Beach Slang?

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