Interview with Beach Slang by John Silva | photo by David LaMason
“This is the spot where my favorite rock ’n’ roll found its snot, where the tossed-away found a place to get untossed,” Beach Slang frontman and songwriter James Alex says of the photo on the cover of their new EP, MPLS, out March 15 on Quiet Panic Records and Bridge 9. The album art features a picture of Minneapolis’ First Avenue, one of the most iconic music venues in the Midwest. “The photograph was just a dumb-luck thing I took on the last tour, never thinking it would end up anyplace but a shoebox, and then, MPLS showed up and gave me a place to hang it. I don’t know; it felt like the right way to tell a whole city ‘thanks for showing me the way.’”
Something that makes First Avenue—known to locals as First Ave—feel so special and historic is that the entire building is covered with stars, each one bearing the name of a legendary artist who has played there over the nearly 40 years the club has been open. The photograph Beach Slang used for their EP artwork features the stars for two of the biggest rock groups to ever come out of the Twin Cities: The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. Not coincidentally, the two tracks that make up MPLS include a cover of a song by The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg and another of a song by Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould. New Noise Magazine is exclusively premiering “I Hate Alternative Rock,” which can be streamed below.
Beach Slang are from Philadelphia, but it’s not surprising that they’re putting out an EP honoring the Midwestern city of Minneapolis. The music scenes in Philadelphia and the Twin Cities are more similar than one might think. “It’s more the spirit of things than the sound or whatever,” Alex says, “loud and drunk and meaning all of it. I suppose Philadelphia has that same spirited recklessness.”
MPLS is a testament to the impact The Replacements and Hüsker Dü have had on alternative rock artists, Beach Slang being no exception. “Westerberg taught me how to write with defiance and tenderness, how to be a dope and a poet,” Alex explains. “Hüsker Dü showed me how to make it all loud as hell.”
Beach Slang are staying busy this spring. In addition to releasing MPLS in March, they will be supporting Jawbreaker on a couple of U.K. dates in April.