BeachFossils10_John Pena

(photo credit: John Peña)

Although ‘Clash the Truth’ does not officially come out until February 19th, you can now stream the entire album via Hype Machine.

(photo credit: Have You Heard?)

1) How did you meet Dustin/end up playing in Beach Fossils?
/ I met Dustin when we played together in a 60s garage punk band maybe 4 or 5 years ago. He had just moved to New York and started playing with an old friend from NC. I knew the same guy because he was my high school philosophy teacher’s older brother. My high school was weird. Our teachers were all like 22 and we were friends with a bunch of them. This guy had a class that was basically him making us listen to Lightning Bolt and Deerhoof. Anyway, Dustin and I stayed buddies and I eventually joined Beach Fossils. We both kind of moved away from the 60s garage thing, though the Troggs are still the greatest.

2) ‘Clash the Truth’ has live drums, unlike s/t and ‘What a Pleasure,’ how do you think that impacted the sound of the record?
/ Since the beginning of the band there’s always been a big discrepancy between the sound of the recordings and the live show. I kind of liked it, actually, because people would come to a show with certain expectations and be surprised when it wasn’t be beachy and a lot of gear got broken, but having live drums on the new record definitely makes things a little more cohesive. Even if we’re not a punk band per se, both Dustin and I grew up listening to and playing various kinds of punk music, and that’s always come through live to some degree. We were also both a little tired of the whole bedroom recording thing. We demoed the whole record at home, but after having played and toured together for a while it just felt natural for things to move into more of a “real band” mindset. You can always tell at a show if a band is truly a band or if it’s one main dude with some random sidemen, and we really wanted the new record to capture the feeling of us just playing together in a room.

3) Your background playing music is pretty incredible. How old were you when you started playing music?
/ I guess I technically started playing music when I was 18 months old. I saw Animal from the Muppets on TV and yelled “Drum!” at my parents until they got me a little kit for Christmas. I played a bunch of different instruments and kinds of music growing up, and somehow ended up going to school for jazz saxophone. Music school is strange, not to mention the New York jazz scene. I learned a lot playing jazz and I still love a lot of the older players, but I’d rather be in a doom band and play one note for an hour than spend my life running patterns and scales over songs only other musicians care about.

4) What records made an impression on you when you were younger?
/ I wrote a whole big thing about bands that were important to me at various times and what I listened to when, but it’s probably better to just list some records without the narration. In very loose chronological order with lots of gaps: Michael Jackson “Bad,” Smashing Pumpkins “Siamese Dream,” Nirvana “Nevermind,” Green Day “Dookie,” Pavement “Slanted and Enchanted,” The Cure “Disintegration,” Squarepusher “Big Loada,” Discharge “Why?,” Converge “Jane Doe,” Emperor “In the Nightside Eclipse,” Darkthrone “A Blaze in the Northern Sky,” Hella “Hold Your Horse Is,” and Taylor Swift “Speak Now”. There’s more, but all of those records changed my life for one reason or another.

5) What sparked your passion for black metal?
/ I started listening to black metal early on in high school. I don’t remember exactly how I found out about it, but I had already gotten into metal in general through an older friend. I just found black metal fascinating and really profound from the moment I heard it. I’m not even sure how to talk about it, especially since so much bullshit has been written about black metal lately and it’s become kind of a weird hipster thing. The early Norwegian bands weren’t only putting a new spin on the bands they grew up with, but also channeling the whole history and spirit of Scandinavian culture and folk music. Early Emperor is like a metal/19th century Romanticism/ancient folk song hybrid; it’s totally crazy. They were just kids in the late 80s and early 90s, and nothing had ever sounded like it. There was some pretty wild murder and arson going on, too, but they were geniuses. Also, a lot of those guys were withdrawn loner types which I identified with. To me (early) black metal is some of the deepest music in the world, but it’s really hard to try and articulate why without sounding like kind of a jackass. Sick riffs, in any case.

6) Any non-music related hobbies?
/ I definitely get obsessed with things aside from music. Playing pool is probably my main hobby that I actually spend time on. It’s really technical and challenging, but it’s also kind of calming. It’s a nice escape when things get crazy. Also, the whole band has been playing a lot of Mario Kart 64 lately. I’ve been practicing all these different shortcuts, and Dustin always complains that I’m cheating when I pull them off and win the race. I keep telling him it’s not my fault that he didn’t put in the hard work to be able to do it, too, but he thinks I’m some kind of Mario Kart Republican. I dunno.

7) Who would you love to tour with?
/ Most of the bands that I would love to tour with probably wouldn’t make sense with Beach Fossils at all, or are just total fantasies. We had dinner with the singer of Mayhem in Spain last year, which was amazing, and touring with them would be cool, but you know…Touring with the Cleaners from Venus would be sick. Daft Punk? Playing with Spiritualized would be near the top of my list, and if Bowie was touring for his new record I’d be down for that. Outside of Beach Fossils, I definitely see myself playing guitar or drums for Taylor Swift.

(photo credit: Have You Heard?)

1) how did you meet Dustin?
/ I was in NYC for the first time with my band Craft Spells. We were about to start our first real tour opening for his band Beach Fossils. A lot of the time when I’m meeting someone for the first time I don’t know if they wanna go with the high five, the formal handshake, or the hug…. Luckily he didn’t leave me any time to make an awkward decision because when he walked in he said “WASSSUp” and gave me a bear hug.

2) you just moved to new york, what has the transition from seattle been like so far?
/ In New York I live with 7 people so I spend almost 100% of my time socializing. It’s a lot different than my life in Seattle. I used to spend a lot of my time recording music in my room. I hope to get some sort of recording setup in my new place soon.

3) what was the music scene like in seattle?
/ I don’t even go to shows in Seattle unless my friends are playing. And most of those bands are based outside Seattle. I’m really not sure. It’s……good!

4) what are your non-music related hobbies?
/ Skateboarding. It’s kind of all I want to do all of the time.

5) your first shows playing with Beach Fossils, were in Asia! Any crazy stories from that short tour?
/ I would say that the craziest story from that tour happened in Bangkok. We were exploring a very touristy area with the show promoter and her friend. I’ll tell you that we had some nice food, but I would say that drinking was our main activity that night. After many hours of the same we wandered into a random bar. There was what looked to be a local rock band playing Incubus covers. It’s all a bit of a blur, but I remember somehow asking them if we (Beach Fossils) could play a song after they finish. They hesitantly let us up on stage. I think we were all pretty excited until we realized what we were actually doing. To be honest, we took most our time trying to get our guitars in tune. After a bunch of people left we proceeded to play the title track off our new album “Clash the Truth” the best we could. After the song was over I remember looking up and only seeing one blonde girl standing right in the middle where a crowd would normally be…… after a bit of awkward silence she yelled out a big “WOOO.”


(photo credit: Have You Heard?)

1) how did you meet dustin?
/ Me and D Baby had our first mingle a year or so ago at a Captured Tracks gathering in NYC. My other band , Hoop Dreams, put out a 7″ on Captured Tracks, and our bassist was playing for Wild Nothing. Social spheres inevitably collided. Captured Tracks family , STAND UP!

2) what was the music scene like in Blacksburg, Virginia?
/ Certainly not as affluent as a city , but a sense of community is still there among musicians. Rooted in appalachian folk music , it is the perfect college town for a traveling bluegrass group to throwdown at the local restaurant or outdoor plaza , but not so much for new bands. Since there are very few venues in town , I have helped organize house shows and festivals for indie/electronic/rock bands in the area over the past few years. Blacksburg natives , Wild Nothing , certainly were a catalyst to the growth of the house show scene! Also on the Blacksburg horizon , good friends/electronic duo Outlands have a debut 12″ LP coming out in the summer on LebensStrasse Records. All I can say is throw out the birth control , this record is gonna make you go prego.

3) when i first met you, you were extremely exhausted from filming a
stop motion video for your band dream cop. do you have plans to
continue making music videos?

/ I usually try to limit myself to 3 hours of motionlessness per day. I exceeded that number during filming. I could barely move my arms when it was all over! Felt like spaghetti. Never thought I would become a human clay-mation doll…but I cant thank Dir. Lucas Borras and his team enough for their hard work in making a truly stellar music video for my tune ” Nasdaq” ! As far as future songs/videos/etc for my Dream Cop project are concerned , be on the lookout for a new release sometime this year!

4) you recently moved to new york, what has the transition been like so far?
/ Just call me the Kelly Slater of couch surfing. Rippin’ through some tubular Lazy Boyz no doubt. Still on the hunt for a place to hang my hammock.

5) where is your favorite venue in new york?
Recently saw Ducktails play his record release show at Le Poisson Rouge in the city. The crowd surrounded the band from all sides as they played on an elevated platform in the center of the space. Loved that change up , more intimate. For Brooklyn , I have always been a fan of 285 Kent. Crowd always delivers , plus the space looks like Mad Max took over a military hangar.

6) what are your non-music related hobbies?
Mario Kart 64 has definitely become a blood sport among the Beach Fossil boys recently haha. At the heart of it all I am a physics nerd , so as of late I have been taking great pleasure in terrorizing my two dogs with my indoor remote controlled helicopter. Just hang a piece of bacon on some string and dangle it from the landing gear. Gotta trademark Dog fishing before Animal Planet takes me to court.

7) What cities are you most looking forward to playing in the next year?
My big 3 are London , Sydney , and Stockholm. Mainly just excited to see some familiar faces that are now living overseas! Although if we’re talking domestic , all pales in comparison to the Beach Fossil headquarters: Des Moines , Iowa.