Beach Slang moves into darker territory with ‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’

Oct 12, 2016 at 11:42 am
Beach Slang moves into darker territory with ‘A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings’

Beach Slang’s first full-length, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, was written from a single perspective — that, being singer James Alex’s heavy-hearted ride through wild nights and battles with isolation. On their second album, this year’s A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, the band’s lyrical focus widened to include the people who connected to the themes of the first record — the fans who Alex met on the road and the others who sent in letters.

“I was like, ‘OK, you can’t hide behind this cloak of you’re messed up forever,’” Alex said. “Because I was grounded in some sort of thing that people found something worth listening to. So, I was like, ‘OK, now what do I do with that we?’ And, I think what I tried to do was to write songs for and about them.”

The most clearly-defined example of that is the last song on the record, “War Paint,” a hushed, punk ballad about a conversation that he had with a friend after she attempted suicide.

“I told the engineer that I wanted it to sound like I was sitting on the edge of her bed with her and playing this song just for her,” Alex said. “It was just that reminder. The next time that you’re sort of on the ledge, know that you’re loved and needed — just hang around, we need you here. That was the first time where I wanted a song to be a linear narrative about this very specific thing, and I wanted to get it right. That to me is sort of the crowning example how I sort of digested and filtered this new perspective.”

Something about the new record that Alex didn’t notice until after it was recorded was how much it dealt with death. And not just in the stories that he absorbed from other people, but also in his own reflections on the inevitability of it. Both the lyrics and the music are noticeably darker, if only by slight shades. There are not the same sort of surges that defined the first record, but it carries a different kind of weight with it, one that digs a little deeper and darker.

“It’s a strange thing: When I got done writing it I remember sitting back and having a moment, [thinking about] how many times I said death or dying on this record, and then looking at how many times I said alive on the first record,” Alex said. “There was this sort of somber lyric tone that, I think, is pretty spread out on this record. Where, the first one, to me, felt like a rallying cry to go tear yourself open and have at it. This one felt a little more reflective, like how am I going to think of all of this when I’m huffing my last breaths.”

The common thread that holds Beach Slang’s music together is the amount of urgency and directness that everything revolves around, and that circles back to the band’s beginning. Started as only a recording project, after they released their first EP, Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street, in 2014, Alex moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles for a graphic design job, since he had no expectations for Beach Slang to become a full-time thing.

“It was sort of an accidental fall-into-it,” Alex said. “I think the way I went into this was: It’s just going to be cool to have a place where these songs that are knocking around in my head can get sprung out into the world — they’re framed somewhere and they exist.”

After a few write-ups, some attention on the internet, a booking manager, another EP and a move back to Philadelphia, Alex and the other members of Beach Slang went all in, releasing two full-lengths in two years, spending most of their other time on the road.

“It sort of told us that maybe this deserves to be a band and not just this little recording project that meets once a year,” Alex said. “I got into that conversation with myself: Am I going to wake up when I’m 75 and just be like, ‘Man, I wish I would have chased that all the way.’ Who wants to have that conversation?” •

After this interview, Beach Slang announced that they have removed guitarist Ruben Gallego from the band. James Alex will now perform solo during the tour.

Beach Slang

Wednesday, Oct. 19


2100 S. Preston St.

$15-$17  |  8 p.m.