Philadelphia band Beach Slang are something of a supergroup in the world of indie pop punk. Frontman James Snyder formerly sang and played guitar with Weston for nearly 20 years, bassist Ed McNulty played with NONA and drummer JP Flexner hails from the now disbanded Ex-Friends. Together as Beach Slang they play it loud and fast, with a retro sound that recalls the likes of The Replacements and pre-power ballad Goo Goo Dolls.
Lyynks Music chatted with Snyder about the significance of a band name, fan tattoos, how Charles Bukowski is punk and more.
Discover, engage and explore Beach Slang on Lyynks Music.
Lyynks Music: You all formed as a band fairly recently and have dropped two EPs this year. What do you think are the positives of releasing music via this increasingly popular model versus the traditional album routine? Speaking of which, what’s next from Beach Slang?
James Snyder: Yeah, I mean the big positives, I think, are the instant-ness of it all and the ease of sharing, right? But, you know, we give up some romanticism in that. Kids don’t dig through record stores to get turned onto something new, they don’t live and die by zines, etc. I mean, those things exist, thank goodness, and always will, but it’s different. Moving ahead always leaves some stuff behind, I suppose.
We are about to record our first full-length. We’ll be in the studio no later than early February to start tearing into that. Man, I cannot wait. We also plan on making a Beach Slang mixtape EP. to fill that strange time between now and the release of the full-length (early summer 2015). It’ll be six or so covers that, in essence, will be the mixtape I never had the guts to send to any girl I was ever fawning over.
Considering everyone’s past membership in other bands in the Pennsylvania scene, you’re regarded as something of a supergroup. How does writing music together as Beach Slang differ from your previous acts?
Wow, that’s super sweet of people to think. The key difference in the writing process with Beach Slang is that it’s remarkably streamlined. Basically, it’s this: I write songs and deliver pretty fleeced out home demos to the gents. We get in a room, make them loud and then hustle off to the studio to record them while they still have that initial juice, you know? I don’t want anything over-thought or over-processed. Rock & roll has always deserved to shoot from the guts.
We saw that a fan got a tattoo of the song “Punk Or Lust.” That’s pretty wild. Do you have/would you get any fan tattoos of a band, and if so, which one?
Before I was a singer, I wanted to be a writer so something like a kid getting words tattooed on them really lit me up. Yeah, it’s wild. And humbling and perfect.
I do not. However, I do have a [Charles] Bukowski poem tattooed on my left arm. Not a band, yeah, but definitely a punk. Maybe that counts?
What’s the SECOND most hardcore thing a fan has done? Assuming that the tattoo is #1, of course…
The first thing I think of is a gang of kids flying from the UK to see us at Fest. Right, I know Fest is reason enough, but they were sincere and direct about letting me know it was for Beach Slang. That’s just as tattoo-wild-and-humbling to me. Things like this, man, it’s never lost on me how lucky we are to be a part of this scene.
Tell us about the background story to the “Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street” EP title?
The kids I came up with, we all fell into punk because we were angry and broke and didn’t fit in. You start thinking, “What the f—’s the point?” After a bit of that, yeah? But what we started to figure out is that was the stuff that was making us into something more. The whole anti-vanilla way to grow up. You learn to see what really matters. To find good in the muck. And that’s how those things started to feel…like, cheap thrills on a dead end street.
Your Tumblr pairs Beach Slang lyrics with some stunning photos (see below). Could you tell us the more about these great shots?
I pay my bills by doing graphic design. In that, I’m always hunting for good aesthetics. Things that reach out and tug at you a bit. These photos are purposefully random finds. Again, it’s think-from-your-guts. If it feels right, it is.
Your particular pop punk sound is one that’s rarely heard in indie music today. Can you elaborate on the inspirations of Beach Slang’s style?
I think two really important things go into it: (1) I try not to listen to a whole lot of music because I don’t want to subconsciously thieve things. I think this dumb thinking helps us from becoming formulaic and all that junk and (2) the stuff that has seeped in is everything I hold super dear. The Replacements/Paul Westerberg, The Pixies, Jesus & Mary Chain, Big Star and on and on and on. The only stuff I pull from is the stuff that originally cracked me open. How can that not lead to something that means at least a little something, yeah?
We read in an interview with Wondering Sound that part of your name is a retaliation to someone saying that no bands with “beach” in their name can be taken seriously. What’s the story behind the “slang” half?
That is completely true. The “slang” part helps balance the rebellion with humor. I like living somewhere in between those two things. Look, if we ever start taking ourselves too seriously, it’s time to split.
On a related note, what are your thoughts on bear, deer and wolf bands?
I think they’re all amazing animals (the wolf being my favorite). The bands? Man, much like “beach” bands, it all lies in the thing they do. If names alone turn you on or off to a band, you’re probably chasing the wrong thing. Dig?
Photo of Beach Slang by Dylan Johnson