Beach Slang finds perfection in the sounds of adolescence
After 15 years of writing and playing with Philadelphia punk-rock favorites Weston, James Alex took a break to consider his next move. He went back to art school but never stopped writing songs. Two years ago, he showed one of his new tunes to bass player Ed McNulty and drummer JT Flexner at an impromptu jam session.
“The right-away-clicking-thing was unique,” says Alex. “There was no idea for a band. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and turn some songs into records. When we actually piled into a room and played together, we knew it deserved to be more.”
He called the band Beach Slang. Its visceral playing and the desperate honesty of the songs he wrote struck an immediate chord. In a year, the guys went from local favorites to an international touring unit. The title of their second album, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, sums up the band’s approach. “A British journalist asked me to describe the sound of the band. I said, ‘A loud bash of teenage feelings,’” says Alex. “As soon as I said it, I knew it was meant to stick. The teenage thing is a mash of optimism and angst, conviction and open-mindedness. It’s breaking rules, it’s freedom, finding your voice, being terrified, being heroic, falling in love, sneaking cigarettes. It’s glorious and a fucking mess. It’s perfect.
“I read this interview with Charles Thompson/Black Francis/Frank Black,” says Alex. “He said something about attacking the guitar and primal screaming until he had an ‘eargasm.’ That’s my approach—going at the thing until you have that weirdo moment that stops you. Then you know you’ve got something worth chasing. I make very few decisions with my head. They mostly just charge from the gut. There’s a reckless urgency that’s wildly necessary to what Beach Slang is.”