Some bands have an objective of capturing the moment. They artistically infuse the thrills of live music into their sound and they become an energetic juggernaut. Carrying the punk flag high in the 2010s, Philadelphia’s Beach Slang are one of those bands. Lead by guitarist and vocalist James Alex, this act exudes excitement and amplification every time they perform. They’ll be bringing that sensation when they take the stage at The Met in Pawtucket on May 12 with Portsmouth, NH, rockers Alcoa, fellow New Hampshire natives Notches and Providence punks Twin Foxes.
Ahead of the show I had a chat with Alex about his start in another punk band during the ‘90s, working with producer Dave Downham, his Newport roots and what the rest of the year has in store.
Rob Duguay: Before Beach Slang, you were in the influential punk act Weston during the ’90s and their reunion shows during the 2000s. How vital do you consider being in that band when it comes to your musical development as a songwriter?
James Alex: It’s gigantic. To say it straight, Dave [Weston] and Chuck [Saltern] taught me how to write songs. I mean, I suppose I knew how to smash words and chords together, but they taught me about the subtleties, the things that make songs feel like more. After that, everything has been a relentless exercise in sharpening stuff.
RD: On both of Beach Slang’s full-lengths, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us and A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, the band has worked with producer Dave Downham. A lot of bands tend to shift around when it comes to working with producers on albums, so what makes the band want to stick with Dave?
JA: There is something about making records with friends, you know? It strips away concern, allows for chance-taking and hands you the freedom to fuck up. Somewhere in all of that comes something that feels really right on.
RD: Along with both albums, Beach Slang has a mixtape series called Here, I Made This For You. Both volumes feature songs by The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Modern Lovers, Ride and Dramarama among others. What’s the reasoning behind picking these specific songs?
JA: I keep a working list of songs that I absurdly love. When the mixtape recordings come around, I flip through it, over and over, and see which five songs feel right together. There’s very little science to it. Most decisions I make are from the gut. My head just seems to get in the way. Honest feeling is so much more important than strategic thinking.
RD: You have some roots in Newport. Do you have any friends that still live there? How long has it been since you’ve been in Rhode Island?
JA: I still have a bunch of family there for sure. My friends have pretty much split or we just sort of lost each other. Sadly, it’s been about a year since I’ve been back and that was for a Beach Slang show in Providence. I need to find some time to really sink back in, to really dig into the vibe of being home.
RD: What does the rest of the year have in store for Beach Slang? Can fans expect a new album?
JA: 2017 is a full on-the-road year. We are currently on tour with Jimmy Eat World that ends on May 19. After that, Green Day invited us to play with them in London at Hyde Park and I still can’t believe I get to say that. We’ll then hang out in the United Kingdom and Europe for the first half of July playing shows and festivals. For the back half of the month, we’ll be back to the States for more festival stuff. August, for right now, is being held open for me to write the next record. Then in September, we tour around Made In America and Riot Fest and Jawbreaker is headlining the latter! After that, we are planning a six-week, full US tour and then, yeah, hopefully take a small rest and read some books.
Buy tickets to see Beach Slang, Alcoa, Notches and Twin Foxes at The Met on May 12: etix.com/ticket/p/8984855/beach-slang-pawtucket-the-met; Beach Slang’s Website: beachslang.com