There's no hyperbole to the title of Beach Slang's second album, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. The band itself is comprised of guys well out of their adolescent times, frontman James Alex himself already into his 40s, but the in-song emotions pushed to the red between washes of punk distortion and pop melody are equivalent to the raw, fresh feelings coursing through the young at heart. The dangerous, unpredictable thrills of love, getting fucked up with friends, and trying to make your stamp on the world-- Beach Slang specialize in showcasing the highs of being alive.
"It's less about literal teenage feelings, more just that spirit," Alex explains on the line from the band van, which is making its way to a show in Boston opening for pop-punk icons Descendents. "When you start crashing into teenagedom, you're starting to experience all those first great explosions: falling in love, feelings of independence. All of the sudden life cracks open and feels bigger, and the possibilities start to feel boundless, to a degree."
Formed in 2013, a couple of EPs were issued before hype fully fomented around the quartet. Fall 2015 debut album The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us was a pitch-perfect collection of songs dedicated, as the collection's "Ride the Wild Haze" put it, to those times when you need a record to hit harder than your pain. With that in mind, Beach Slang are more than happy to credit the Replacements, Jawbreaker, Husker Du and more for helping them put together their own thing.
Despite fiery, hit-the-streets pieces like "Atom Bomb," A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings slows the pace of the band just a touch. A few tracks even have Alex's voice approaching a near-British accent you could liken to the Psychedelic Furs. The frontman is happy this inspiration is finally showing itself fully. "Literally, all I try to do is rip off Richard Butler in the way I sing," he says with a laugh of the tributary vocal performances. "'Hot Tramps' and 'Young Hearts,' I remember writing those and jokingly calling my manager: 'Just let our lawyer know he's going to get a call soon.' Those are absolutely me wearing my love and adoration for that band on my sleeve."
Alex reminisces on discovering punk through his cousins, and the importance of tapping into the Replacements and the Psychedelic Furs. On A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings opener "Future Mixtape for the Art Kids," he further presses the significance of sound, calling for the band to crank it up and “play me something that might save my life.” It’s a poignant request, and one the rising punk group have come across from a dedicated fan base. As people have latched onto Beach Slang over the last year, Alex has been flanked by plenty of fans trying to sing along on stage; devotees have pressed band-related ink onto their skin. Even more outstandingly, he’s offered a helping hand and words of advice to fans in a recent AMA session, and he’s given out his personal e-mail in case anyone needs to reach out. While touched at the crowd reaction, it’s a feeling Alex remembers being on the other side of before. "I was the same clunky kid coming up--couldn't quite figure it out, felt lost, didn't know where I belonged. I found community in rock and roll. That's not lost on me now. I take a look at people that connect with this band, and I feel firsthand what they're punching at."
He continues: "Maybe I can be, I don't know, a bit of an anchor. Paying it back, or paying it forward... whatever it is. It's just important to me. We're a rock and roll band, but far bigger than that, we're just human beings, man, trying to help people get along and get through it."
Less than a week after we spoke with Beach Slang frontman James Alex, it was revealed that guitarist Ruben Gallego was let go from the band following the onset of sexual assault allegations. A statement from the rest of the group notes that they "cannot in good conscience" continue to play with him. Alex will be performing the previously scheduled fall tour acoustically, on his own. You can read Beach Slang's full statement below.
For us, Beach Slang has always been and will always be a safe place for everyone. It was built to be welcoming. It was built to be soft. If we are going to continue to exist, we have to exist in this way.
There have been allegations involving sexual assault and our guitarist, Ruben. Although this occurred four years ago and prior to him joining Beach Slang, we cannot in good conscience continue with him. We believe survivors and we want to believe Ruben, but until we learn more information, we don't feel it's appropriate for him to be a part of Beach Slang.
We strongly support survivors and organizations such as www.rainn.org and we encourage you to use their resources if you need help. We will be making a donation to RAINN at the conclusion of this tour to do our part in helping to ensure these resources are there for those who need it.
Given the timing of this, our only option is to play as Quiet Slang (James solo acoustic). I mean, giving up never seems to fix things. Maybe today, we can start putting some stuff back together. The Bleached Slang tour starts tonight in Washington, DC. Maybe that's a good place to start.
Keep each other safe,