Text and Interview: Alec Coiro
With a name inspired by Bon Iver, a guitar-fueled sound with an attention to lyrics and an album cover that subtly evokes the Violent Femmes, Beach Baby serves a modern day incarnation of some of the best music from the golden era of alt rock. The band even describes how their songs can emerge from jamming to Oasis or Nirvana covers. The videos, too, meld classics of the 20th century, being described as melanges of The Virgin Suicides and The Breakfast Club.
Since their breakout single “Ladybird,” the band has been maturing at an impressive clip with “Lady Bird” being used for the Netflix series “Flaked” and their signing to Island Records/Caroline. “No Mind No Money” is their first major label release and was recorded by Adam Jaffrey of Bloc Party and Wytches renown. The new album includes an updated version of “Ladybird,” and it might be appropriate to apply their quote about that song to the band as a whole: “It’s still very much the same song, but all grown up.” For more, read our interview with the band below or seek out the answers yourself at their upcoming tour of the U.S. and Europe.
Can you describe your songwriting process? How does collaboration work in the band?
There’s a couple of ways this tends to work. Lawrence and Ollie will often arrive at the rehearsal space with an idea or maybe a fully formed song structure, which is then handed over to the band. We then tend to play it over & over for sometime until we feel it’s at a good stage – and then demo it – which is a favourite part of the process actually. Once we’ve recorded all the bits Ollie takes it away, mixes it & we’ve got a song baby! Sometimes we all just jam an idea and we play it for f’kin ages, then we all look around and go ’Sounds alright’ exactly like that! Record it on our iPhone via the voice memos app – Shep will shout ‘Ollie, add some lyrics’, Ollie will sing whatever comes to mind, then Lawrence pipes up with a vocal line, Kit is whacking away on the bass guitar, Shep is enjoying watching all the elements come together. Sometimes you think, is this a piece of shit? Then you think ‘No!’ We’ve written something good & there you have the foundation of a song…
But Mostly Lawrence and Ollie are slamming away at home working on ideas. But sometimes, just sometimes we can create something from the aftermath of an Oasis/Nirvana/Shaggy/Steve Cumberland cover jam…
What was the inspiration for your band name, and did it have anything to do with the song by “The First Class” (apologies if you get asked this all the time)?
No apologies necessary – it was a big hit by a bloody big band. Lawrence got the name from Bon Iver’s Blood Bank EP – which had the track Beach Baby, thought it was a good name, stole it – thanks Bon, but I suppose Bon should thank The First Class. Thank you’s all round.
The video for “UR” is impressively filmic; are there particular films that influence you as artists, particularly given often narrative heavy quality of your lyrics?
Films aren’t necessarily a direct, conscious inspiration, but we watch a lot of films so they definitely play a part in the creative process. Lawrence works freelance as a script reader for film production companies, so a lot of his writing happens between reading scripts – so maybe there’s some kind of weird creative synergy there?!
The look of our videos we generally leave to the director. Lily Rose Thomas, who directed our first four videos has a really strong aesthetic which she had pre-established in her totally awesome photography – and there’s definitely a hazy, Sofia Coppola indebted vibe going on. We’ve had people describe it as Virgin Suicides by way of the Breakfast Club, which we’ve always liked.
For the UR vid, it all came from director Eoin Glaister, who had a really strong vision for it from the beginning – the result, with the titles and pastel colours, reminds me just a little bit of Wes Anderson.
I understand you’re setting out on a tour of the U.S. and Europe in September. Is this your first tour? Are there any dates on it that you’re particularly looking forward to?
The whole lot to be honest. We haven’t been away playing shows for a while so we’re looking forward to them all but if I had to go with my instinct on this one i’d say Portland, heard that’s a good place. Vienna I’ve never been to, so we’re buzzed up for that one, and of course the band’s favourite UK city, Sheffield.
How close do you keep your live set to the recorded versions of your songs?
Live the tracks have a rawer sound to them. Obviously we try to keep elements as close as we can to the record, but you don’t just want to make a carbon copy of the album. It’s good to make it a bit different, and hopefully it is.
Did you do a new version of Ladybird for the new album? What inspired the new version?
We did, yeh. The version that’s out currently is fundamentally a really old bedroom recording & was done all over the place, quite literally. So when we recorded the album, it made sense to re-do it so it sat better in line with everything else, and to give it some of the punchier elements we’d worked into it through playing it live over the past year. It’s still very much the same song, but all grown up…