20 Apr 2016

BEACH BABY: "I'D KIDNAP PAUL MCCARTNEY"


Few indie bands come as sugary sweet as newcomers Beach Baby. The quartet’s delicious retro sound has already seen them play shows for DIY, BBC Introducing and more, as well as get attention from a string of equally ear catching singles. On their support tour with Sundara Karma, they stopped off at Norwich Waterfront where we grabbed guitarist Ollie and drummer Josh for a natter about the future.  

How do you all know each other, and whose idea was the name Beach Baby? 
OP: I met Lawrence, our other singer and guitar player, in Bristol about six years ago. We started playing together, then we moved to London after we’d finished our degrees where we met Hercules [bassist] at Goldsmith’s College where I was studying. A bit later on we were introduced to Josh from a mutual friend. So it was the old fashioned way of meeting people along the way until you’ve got the right formula.

JH: The name comes from Lawrence. He was listening to Bon Iver and they have a song called Beach Baby, which he thought that would make quite a cool band name. We also wanted something that was just quite easy to remember and would stick in your head. It seems to have had that effect which is good. 

How’s the tour with Sundara Karma been?
OP: It’s been good, very energetic. Lots of sold out shows so we’ve played to more people consecutively than we ever have done before. The reception has been generally pretty good, I think the crowds have been really up for it. They’re quite a young audience, which is a new thing for us, but it’s worked, it’s been a good opportunity for us to play to teenagers whereas before we’ve only toured with bands with a slightly older audience. 

Do you remember your last show in Norwich, in October? What have you been up to since then?
OP: Was that October? Wow, I thought it was June or something. That must have been when we’d finished recording. Or started recording. When in October was it? I remember the gig; there was that guy there who kept shouting “mega”.

JH: Will Smith! Will Smith where are you tonight? He was supposed to come to the one in Cambridge but I didn’t see him. We’ve got a little Twitter conversation going on with Will Smith, and he’s a flake. Will, if you’re listening, come on. Turn up. We thought you were our boy. 

OP: What have we done since then? We went to America; we went to New York for CMJ festival. I’d never been to America and as a band it’s quite exciting. We sort of had time to do touristy things, we had days off. I saw the John Lennon memorial, Strawberry Fields, which is quite a sight.

JH: I went to central park and went on the swings. It was very nice. And just generally walked around. 

Have you noticed yourselves improving as a band since then?
JH: For sure. The more you play, the more at ease you become with doing the whole thing. From where I’m sat on the drums, it feels like once you know the set, that’s when you can start to have more fun with the crowd and have a good time. 

OP: The more you play live, the more comfortable you become with playing live, so it’s the only practice really for getting good. In that aspect I think, even just on this tour, we’ve improved. You get into a good rhythm. 

‘Limousine’ is one of your best-known songs, but lyrically it’s quite ambiguous. What is it about?
OP: It’s about losing control and being immoral. It’s about someone who’s lost all perception of morality. Just doing anything for a buddy up. It’s a… fictional person. Personally I like listening to lyrics that are ambiguous. I like a narrative, like listening to old folk songs and you get a sense of a story, but I also quite like more abstracted, oblique messages in lyrics as well. 



Who contributes when writing your lyrics?
JH: Ollie or Lawrence will come along with an idea – either a verse or a guitar part or a chorus bit – and we tend to explore it until it becomes slightly more formed. But sometimes we might just be messing around musically and an idea might pop up. In that respect, having two singers is good because they’ve both got different styles, lyrically and all that, so it keeps it a bit fresh having two ideas which often will merge and become part of the same song. Hence the synergy. 
Who influences you? And what are your all-time favourite albums?
JH: I’ve been listening to that band on your t-shirt, Sunflower Bean. I really like them a lot. I’ve been listening to King Krule as well, fully back into that. On our headline tour we’ve got wicked support. There’s Willie J. Healey, his music isn’t too dissimilar from ours. He sounds a bit like The Maccabees but it’s more lo-fi I’d say. He’s just a singer songwriter, but he’s got a band. Babeheaven are really great too. My favourite album is Television – Marquee Moon.

OP: Revolver by The Beatles is probably my favourite. It’s just the perfect record. It’s got everything. And also, it’s probably one of the best Beatles records and they’re probably one of the best bands and so, by that logic, it’s got to be one of the best albums ever made. 

What’s the inspiration behind the vintage/retro theme of your videos and artwork?
OP: It came through working with my girlfriend Lily [Rose Thomas]. She’s a photographer and video maker so she just leant her style to us. 

JH: With the last four songs we just gave her the tracks and she interpreted them in her own way. The ideas for the videos were a little bit our influence but for the most part we just let her do what she felt was right for the song. It’s nice now when you see all the artwork because they go together really nicely.

Georgia Groome and Perry Benson are in the ‘Sleeperhead’ video. How did that come about?
OP: Georgia is a friend of Lily’s and Perry is a friend of her mother’s. We needed some actors so we just pulled as many favours as we could and they were the two people that we found.

JH: I’ve got a picture of Perry in a car boot somewhere that I’m trying to find. He’d seen the other videos and really liked them so getting him involved was really quite chilled and easy. He was up for it. Ollie had to do a few scenes with him and obviously Perry is a professional actor so Ollie was getting cracked up a lot. 


The characters in the video kidnap someone. If you had to kidnap anyone who would you choose and how would you do it?
OP: I think the obvious thing would be to say a really beautiful woman. But I don’t think they’d appreciate it so it probably wouldn’t be worth it. I’d like to kidnap someone entertaining like that. Bill Murray, Jonathan Ross… 

JH: I’d nick Jonathan Ross’ credit card and book a private jet pretending I’m paying for it. Fly across America, go to Vegas, have a few days out, fly back to New York, have a nice dinner and that’s it.

OP: I’d kidnap Paul McCartney. I don’t know how I’d do it but I’d kidnap him then just get him to talk to me. Lots of stories, not let him leave me until I was satisfied that I’d learnt everything there is to know about the experience of being Paul McCartney. I’d probably lure him in with some vegetarian food. He likes that.

JH: Meat free Mondays. I’m with you. 

Festival season is almost upon us. What have you guys got lined up for the summer?
OP: We’re doing Live at Leeds, we’re doing The Great Escape and Lodestar Festival in Cambridge. And there’ll be more. 

JH: Truck Festival, in Oxford. Everyone seems really pumped for it when we tell them but I’ve never been. Having seen the line-up and previous line-ups it looks quite good. If your timing’s quite good at festivals you can get there early and check out some bands, but if you’re a little bit late you tend to just get there, set up, go. 

OP: When we played at Field Day we saw Mac DeMarco, Savages, Patti Smith… ten minutes of Ride. That was quite boring. But louder than all the rest for some reason. 

Your headline tour comes straight after this one. Is it a big commitment to be on the road for so long?
OP: It is quite tricky when you’re trying to juggle different jobs and stuff, because we don’t have enough money yet to do this full time. That’s where the main stress is. 

JH: You’ve got to be quite boringly organised when you’re away, like ‘I need a shift then, have you got any work?’ all that stuff. But it’s worth it.  

What comes next in terms of releases?
OP: We’re releasing more singles but we have recorded enough material to make an album. When it comes out will depend on a number of things, but it’s coming in the semi-distant future. Most likely within a year. 

JH: It’s not got a name so far. The singles will be on it – Ladybird, No Mind No Money – which we’ve re-recorded. And Limousine and Sleeperhead. So those four songs will definitely be on it.

*   *  *

Beach Baby’s latest single Lost Soul is out now.
They will perform at:

Think Tank, Newcastle (20/04)
Studio 2 Parr Street, Liverpool (21/04)
Soup Kitchen, Manchester (22/04)
The Cookie, Leicester (23/04)
Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (24/04)
The Bullingdon, Oxford (25/04)
Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich (26/04)
The Lexington, London (27/04)
The Joiners, Southampton (29/04)
Live At Leeds Festival (30/04)
The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham (01/05)
The Boileroom, Guildford (02/05)
The Great Escape Festival, Brighton (19-21/05)
Lodestar Festival, Cambridge (02-04/09)

Words: Alex Cabré
Photos: Poppy Marriott