In Reward of Seaside Slang, 2015’s Finest, Most Honest Rock Band

In Reward of Seaside Slang, 2015’s Finest, Most Honest Rock Band

For those who’ve ever pushed from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Inexperienced Bay, Wisconsin, I’m sorry. For everyone else: The six-hour sojourn consists primarily of depressed industrial cities, rust-colored grain fields, and Kwik Journeys populated by hard-eyed people seeking to numb the ache of day by day existence with Massive Gulp-size sodas and fistfuls of beef jerky. However that’s not the way it appears to be like to James Alex. To him, this patch of freeway would possibly as properly be Thunder Road, Fire’s Highway, or the road the place Paul Westerberg needed to fulfill earlier than peeling out in “I Will Dare.” For Alex, that is the journey of his goals.

“I’m simply cartwheeling by this tour. It’s superior,” Alex tells me. I’ve simply reached him by telephone at a roadside restaurant in Kenosha. It’s early September, and Alex’s band — a relentlessly upbeat punk-rock quartet from Philadelphia known as Seaside Slang — is within the midst of a brief run of dates in help of Tommy Stinson, the bass participant from the Replacements, certainly one of Alex’s all-time favourite bands.

“I’m flipping out,” he says, in a tone that instantly conveys an individual who’s certainly flipping the fuck out. “Thrilled past rationalization, proper? It’s like — it feels surreal, you recognize? In one of the best ways one thing can really feel surreal.”

What’s inflicting Alex to flip out at this very second is his first journey to the Twin Cities, the Replacements’s dwelling base, the place Seaside Slang will wrap up this brief run in a couple of days. Alex is already plotting a neighborhood tour of noteworthy websites — the Let It Be home, scattered golf equipment the place the ’Mats performed, a set of prepare tracks the place some publicity pictures had been staged. Later, I like to recommend trying out the CC Membership, the dive bar in south Minneapolis that impressed “Right here Comes a Common.”

“I’m nonetheless completely a child with, like, posters on his wall,” Alex says of his rock and roll obsession. “It truly is the one factor that I’ve ever subscribed to. I’m simply all in. I assume in the identical method in the event you’re a historical past buff and also you go to the place some well-known battle occurred, you simply know you’re on this factor the place you’re meant to be.”

What’s really surreal these days for Alex is his unlikely success. Shaped within the aftermath of Alex’s earlier band, Weston, breaking apart for good in 2010, Seaside Slang began out primarily as a interest for its 41-year-old frontman. Touring for practically 20 years with Weston failed to determine something greater than a small cult following, so Alex studied to be a visible artist and bashed out big-hearted rock songs in his spare time. Alex hadn’t given up his rock goals, however actual life required that he compartmentalize them.

In 2014, Seaside Slang put out two seven-inches, Who Would Ever Need Something So Damaged? and Low cost Thrills on a Useless Finish Road. The reference factors had been hardly modern — Alex has said that he aimed for a candy spot between “the Replacements, Swervedriver, Jesus and Mary Chain, all that stuff that I grew up on that affected me.” Whereas recorded on a punk-rock funds, the EPs aspired to the wall-of-guitars manufacturing model of ’90s alt-rock, an enormous sound to match the grandiose, borderline corny sentiments of Alex’s lyrics.

Thematically, Seaside Slang slots subsequent to bands just like the Maintain Regular and Japandroids, which had been additionally fashioned by indie lifers who didn’t discover a large viewers till they had been properly previous the age of 30. Like these bands, Seaside Slang makes energetic, aspirational music for getting older rock followers seeking to reconcile their raucous file collections with the mundane duties of maturity. However whereas the Maintain Regular and Japandroids grudgingly settle for the passage of time — their songs place youth as a trial by hearth that exists in life’s rearview — Alex nonetheless very a lot pertains to the attitude of a teen.

Take “Filthy Luck,” the leadoff monitor from Who Would Ever Need Something So Damaged?, the place Alex refers to “youngsters like us” over fats energy chords and hyperactive drum beats. “Carve your identify delicate throughout my lungs / I wish to breathe you till I’m numb,” he sings, clinging to the current tense despite the lyric’s youthful naivety.

“That’s nonetheless the individual I’m,” Alex insists. ”We’ve heard it by the ages — age is a group of numbers. However these clichés, I actually subscribe to that. Now we have these cultural expectations that you just attain a sure age and also you’re imagined to get severe or your retirement financial savings is meant to be extra essential than your goals. I’ve by no means subscribed to that, and I’ve the checking account to show it.”

Seaside Slang’s debut LP is out this week. It’s known as The Issues We Do To Discover Individuals Who Really feel Like Us, and it doubles down on the previous EPs, amping up the slickness of the guitars and the melodrama of the lyrics. Romanticized depictions of adolescence as a life-or-death battleground have been a part of rock custom from Phil Spector to Bruce Springsteen to Celebration Rock. However Alex’s specialty is writing screamingly emotive rock songs about what it feels prefer to take heed to all of these different screamingly emotive rock songs. Are you able to blame him for additionally desirous to reside inside of these tunes?

“Look man, we will’t all make a dwelling enjoying guitars, proper? I imply, I get that,” Alex says, pushing the gasoline pedal on his mile-a-minute patter. “However it’s like, cool, so come dwelling from the job after which keep in mind the belongings you try this feed the great elements of you, not simply the paying the payments a part of you. I’m nonetheless leaping round on a stage like a drunk loon 60 to 70 % of the 12 months. You are able to do it, too.”


From the primary time I heard The Issues We Do To Discover Individuals Who Really feel Like Us, I knew Seaside Slang was my new favourite band. I used to be already a fan of the EPs and had written about them enthusiastically. I additionally investigated Weston’s again catalogue, so I used to be conscious that Alex’s aesthetic had been honed over the course of a few years. (Pattern Weston track titles: “Teenage Love Affair,” “Heartbreak Sandwich,” “Emotions Stupit Emotions.”) However The Issues We Do immediately felt like a fruits. Alex had exactly stumble on what he had been looking for because the early ’90s — a mixture of nostalgia and forward-looking optimism communicated by way of fearlessly shiny riffs and florid clichés redeemed by the all-in conviction of a real believer. Instantly, I noticed I had been looking for the identical factor. So have plenty of individuals I do know. Each single individual to whom I’ve really helpful Seaside Slang has wound up loving this band. Alex has apparently cornered the market on guileless rock music.

The Issues We Do To Discover Individuals Who Really feel Like Us abounds with potential pitfalls, moments when the spell might be damaged by a lyric or musical flourish that’s merely corny slightly than transcendently corny. I suppose Seaside Slang will elicit groans from those that aren’t on the band’s wavelength it doesn’t matter what. However for me, because the file progressed on my first pay attention, the sense of exhilaration grew, from the sweetly sighing backing vocals of “Dangerous Artwork & Weirdo Concepts” to the intensely rasping refrain of “Experience the Wild Haze” to the articulate suggestions of “Soiled Lights.” After I heard Alex sing, “If rock and roll is harmful, how come I really feel so secure in it?” in “I Break Guitars,” I felt a lump in my throat. My god, I believed. He’s really pulling this off.

Speaking to Alex prompted a way of reduction, as a result of I feared that maybe this was all a put-on. His album had grow to be a secure area for me to profess all the beliefs that I had stuffed down into the nether areas of my coronary heart. Seaside Slang embodies practically each single certainly one of these cherished beliefs: Earnestness is sweet. Bombast is sweet. Rock and roll is the most effective. Getting drunk is usually a noble act. Embarrassing your self publicly is righteous as long as you’re passionate. You really may be born to run, as long as you don’t cease believin’ in Siamese goals. The Issues We Do To Discover Individuals Who Really feel Like Us validates all of this hokum in 30-minute intervals.

Loving Seaside Slang seems like going out on a limb, so it was good to find that Alex deserves that belief. In actual life as on file, Alex talks like Paul Stanley introducing “Strutter” to a stadium filled with 40,000 wannabe dreamers. Listening to him seems like flying as long as you don’t look down.


The following time I discuss to Alex, it’s earlier than Seaside Slang’s present on the Turf Membership in St. Paul. I textual content him once I get to the venue, and he tells me to seize a beer with him on the bar.

“My physique will at all times get to that time, the place it’s that correct quantity of buzz,” Alex says between swigs. I take an additional massive gulp from my beer so as to attain that time quicker.

Seaside Slang hit unhealthy visitors on the way in which to the present, so the Replacements sightseeing tour was sadly scuttled. There was solely time for a fast go to to the Let It Be home — the band wasn’t permitted to climb on the roof, however they did snap an ungodly variety of pictures.

“It was like the higher Graceland,” Alex enthuses.

We chat aimlessly for a couple of minutes, after which Alex brings up his first punk-rock present: the Ramones at Airport Music Corridor in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alex was 12.

“I used to be, like, somewhat muffin, somewhat child, and I walked in, and it felt like outer area to me,” he says. “Simply all these massive punks in bomber jackets, and the spikes, the entire deal. When the Ramones performed, I by no means noticed or felt something prefer it. I’m getting knocked down, and these massive punks had been selecting me up with these massive smiles on their faces, like, We received one other one. You recognize, to maintain this factor going ahead. There was one thing actually lovely about it.”

An hour later, Seaside Slang is on stage, the center band on a invoice at a membership in an unfamiliar city. At first, the indifference is palpable. However Alex doesn’t appear to thoughts. The journey is what issues — the vacation spot is gravy. So, he stops earlier than the second verse of “Dangerous Artwork & Weirdo Concepts” to take a celebratory pull from his beer. Then he whips his guitar recklessly round his torso. Then he hurls his torso to the bottom. He’s successful over the group. By the top of the set, they’re screaming for extra.

“I don’t know why everybody isn’t in a band and [doesn’t get] drunk each night time,” Alex says to his newest followers. “It’s fucking heaven, man.”

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