Interview mit James Alex (Beach Slang / english version)
Wer sich etwas ausführlicher mit Crazewire beschäftigt, der weiß, dass wir große Fans der Band Beach Slang aus Philadelphia sind. Nach unserem letztjährigen Interview mit Sänger James Alex haben wir die Veröffentlichung ihres zweiten Albums „A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings“ zum Anlass genommen, nochmal nachzuhaken, wie es der Band geht und was wir vom kommenden Album zu erwarten haben. Hier nun die englische Originalversion.
Crazewire: On Sept. 23rd you will release your new album „A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings“. The first time I listened to it, the record seemed different to your other records. But in the end it is still a Beach Slang Record.
James Alex: Yeah, I mean, it’s an honest smattering of the things I was feeling, the records I was hearing and the books I was reading. I never want to xerox stuff we’ve done. Junk like that feels cheatery to me. I want to write without fear, without expectation. There’s an importance to shoving forward.
Crazewire: Please describe in your own words what the people can expect from the new songs?
James Alex: I described the songs I wrote for LP1 as „two-minute novels about me and my friends and the things we’ve done.“ With LP2, I wrote about conversations and letters people shared with me while touring for that record. I saw myself in them. I dove into their narratives. I aimed at amplifying them in a way that matters. That stuff aside. It’s a loud and messy, charging and honest rock & roll record.
Crazewire: Tell us something about the songwriting process. Did you start writing songs on tour with the other guys or did you write them back in Philadelphia?
James Alex: Writing, for me, is a very isolating process. I write alone. It’s the only way I know how. I suppose, I have a need to chase ideas without interruption. This record, I wrote entirely while on tour in Europe – green rooms, hotel rooms, etc. I tried to tap into that Jack-Kerouac-poet-troubadour thing. Man, I hope it worked.
Crazewire: Two records in one year. Is there a special reason why you will release the new album so quickly?
James Alex: Rock & roll deserves energy. It’s built around the good charge and isn’t interested in going stale. I won’t let it. And, I mean, I get wildly restless when I’m idle. I need to keep bouncing around. I need to keep making things. And I make records, you know?
Crazewire: In April you shocked your fans with rumors that Beach Slang broke up after a show in Salt Lake City. Also your drummer JP quit his job a couple of weeks ago.
James Alex: JP never quit the thing. After a whole bunch of very sincere, but failed attempts to make things work, he was asked to leave. Look, you try to make things work, you try to hold things together even when they’re cracking. But sometimes you don’t want to keep sticking a band-aid on a broken leg. You want to fix the break. That’s what we did.
Crazewire: How difficult is it as a band to play so many concerts in so many different countries without having serious problems with each other? How do you solve them?
James Alex: Look, I mean, like all relationships, band stuff gets bumpy sometimes. How can it not, right? It’s a wild, weirdo life and, most of the time, you’re sort of figuring it out as you go. The solve is simple: you love the thing you do and the people you are lucky enough to do it with. Human chemistry is strange, beautiful magic. And Slang is dumbly lucky enough to be well wrapped in it.
Crazewire: Did you find a new drummer? Who will play with you when you come back to Germany in a couple of weeks?
James Alex: With knowing we were closer and closer to asking JP to leave, we reached out to two of our dearest mates, Arik Dayan and Cully Symington. They are gigantic sweethearts and play like thunder. Arik toured Australia with us last month. Cully will be doing the thing with us this month in Europe. It’s like a really loud, really perfect daydream.
Crazewire: You are a father. How do you manage this Punkrock/Fatherhood thing? How hard is it to be away for weeks knowing that your son is ill/ starts running and stuff like that?
James Alex: Obviously, it’s the toughest part of the whole deal. Oliver is the great, big center of my dumb, little universe. But, you know, we figure it out and push through it in the same way everyone shoves through their junk. Humans are marvelously adaptive monkeys, you know? We figure it out because we have to. And, so, we do.
Crazewire: The last time we talked to each other Beach Slang had 8.000 Facebook-“Fans” and you told me “If it means sleeping less to answer letters, no sweat”. Now there are 25.000. Is it still possible to get in touch with all of them?
James Alex: It is (or so I’ll keep telling myself). I mean, the drag time is a whole lot longer, the sleep is a whole lot less, but the sincerity of response is still razor sharp. Everyone who cares about this thing is fiercely important to me, fiercely important to this whole thing even being a thing. The embarrassment of rock & roll is ego, accepting some strange separation between band and listener. I say this often and mean it always: this is for us – all of us.
Crazewire: After so many concerts, so many flights and with all the studio and promotion time… Have you never felt tired of being a “rockstar”?
James Alex: David Bowie is a rockstar. I’m just a clumsy, adult teen who sings loud songs. But, no, man, I never tire of this thing. How could I? I travel around the world with my best friends, dive into cultures, meet strange, beautiful people, pay the bills with my guitar, watch people sing my songs and get to hug everyone. Look, it’s the thing I daydreamed about my whole life. And it’s happening. I suppose what I mean it: Yeah, I’m more-than-alright with all of it.
Crazewire: You are a good example for a hard working band who got successful because of constant touring (and your quality as well). How important were your connections to the punkrock scene when you started Beach Slang? Is it possible to play so many shows in America without this experience / without this network?
James Alex: Thanks for that, man. To me, rock & roll is blue collar work and it deserves to be. It’s the last good fight there is. And, yeah, my time in the scene surely helped shove Beach Slang into things, but I never wanted to lean on that. Instead, I threw my focus on making honest work. If it deserved to have a place, it would. I’m a believer, you know? Look, when Weston (my first band) started, we toured relentlessly without anyone knowing or caring who we were. We slugged it out. We played to no one. We slept at truckstops. We hardly ate. And we had the time of our lives. There’s something beautiful about things not coming easily, about punching through doubt, about pushing forward. There is romance in the struggle. There is an importance to persistence. Learn to wait. Learn to really want it. When it comes, I quite assure you, it will be fucking glorious.
Crazewire: Thank you, James!
Video: Beach Slang – „Punks In A Disco Bar“