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Beach Slang: Honest and Accelerated.

November 19, 2015

BeachSlangOnline01Text by Brendan Menapace. Images by Jessica Flynn.

The guys in Beach Slang are open to uncomfortable conversation. They’ll talk about how they can display their most emotional and vulnerable sides through lyrics. They can talk about how they had to write material and form a band dynamic while they were already on the media’s radar. They can talk about how they still get nervous getting on stage. They won’t, however, talk about their age, religion or politics. Those topics are off the table.

Guitarist/vocalist/chief songwriter James Alex Snyder, formerly of Bethlehem-based band Weston, shares his time between Philadelphia and Easton and decided that this project would be an honest one.

“This was the first time I was like, ‘Oh, you know, I’m just going to wear my heart completely on my sleeve, just strip all of it down,’” he says, standing as the rest of the band sits on couches along the back wall of PhilaMOCA before a show.

Snyder’s voice is quiet and fast. It doesn’t quite have the rasp that comes out when he sings. There’s earnestness and modesty behind what he says. Snyder sheds his reserved ways when there’s a guitar in hand. Anyone who has seen Beach Slang live might not think it was the same guy who leaves every bit of his energy on the stage, powerfully leading the charge of the song and laughing with his friends.

The band’s lyrics have a certain aesthetic that can be hard to pinpoint. They balance between self-doubt and vulnerability, with moments of triumph and comfort at the same time. The music itself recalls melodic ’90s alt-rock and emo.

“[The lyrics are about] me and my friends and our weirdo, screwed up little lives together,” Snyder says. “I’m a horrible photographer. I can’t get anybody interested in reading a book. So I was like, ‘Well, if they’re songs, maybe that’s the best way I can remember my life and my friends.”

As the band puts it, Snyder writes the songs and then the rest of the members make it loud and it becomes Beach Slang. Originally made up of Snyder, bassist Ed McNulty (formerly in the band NONA) and drummer JP Flexner (formerly in the band Ex Friends), the group added Ruben Gallego (formerly in Glocca Morra) on second guitar after their first two EPs. From there, the songwriting process has gone smoothly, with two EPs released last year and their debut full length, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, due out this fall on Polyvinyl.

BeachSlangOnline02“There’s an ease with which we arrive at something that we’re happy with,” Flexner says. “When we get in a room after James has worked on something, we seem to know pretty quickly whether we’re on to something.”

They feel the hardest thing for all of them to overcome was handling a boost to popularity while they were still relative strangers. It has been an accelerated pace with the band already garnering major attention from both fellow artists and in the media, with outlets like Noisey and The AV Club singing their praises often.

“We grew up on television, you know?” Snyder says, comparing the band to child stars who grew up in the spotlight and never really got a chance to learn along the way. “We never had a chance to fall and embarrass ourselves. It was right away. We were becoming friends in this. I met Ed and Ruben in this band already doing this. The band found its legs pretty quickly and everything was just kind of a crazy pressure cooker where we worked at an accelerated pace.”

“They’re at the top of the relatively newer Philly punk rock bands,” says Marco Florey, drummer of Philadelphia-based Spill, who shared a stage with Beach Slang this year in Baltimore. “They have a constantly upward trajectory, as well they should. Seeing them and playing with them has validated that hype and made me a supporter of what they do.”

What they do is try to create a unique emotional experience—and whether that feeling is uncertainty in life or reveling in a packed basement with your best friends, it’s real to them and the fans.

“For better or for worse,” Snyder says. “Whether it connects or completely misses, I just want to do something really honest.”

One Comment
  1. November 19, 2015 5:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Brendan Menapace.

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