Beach Slang’s James Alex jumps from punk to folk—to new wave?

Beach Slang, Quiet Slang, James Snyder

Beach Slang frontman James Alex is bouncing between extremes.

For now, his punk band—he describes it as “what if Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs fronted The Replacements”—is back on the road. Then when that’s over, he moves on to Quiet Slang, his acoustic side project, which has a recently-released EP.

“For the next six weeks, it’ll be drunk and loud and everything I love about rock and roll,” Alex says. “Then February hits and it’s tender…and drunk, and everything I love about rock and roll.”

It’s not a common leap, but it’s not unprecedented.

“[Quiet Slang] was born out of my hopeless adoration for Stephin Merritt and the things he did for Magnetic Fields,” Alex explains. “Beach Slang was about six months old, and I was invited for an NPR Tiny Desk, and people would always talk to me at shows about how they dug that. It got me thinking a little bit—I should commit some quiet things to record. But if I was going to do it, I wanted it to be more thoughtful and significant.

“I started recording that in December, and a lot of it was exploration and experimentation, and now I’m champing at the bit.”

But for now, it’s time for “Loud Slang,” as he calls it.

“Loud Slang puts its feet out for a couple months, then Quiet Slang comes out front,” he says.

After touring for most of the year, Beach Slang wants to finish strong before getting some much-needed rest.

“A lot of the intention of this tour is to really, properly canvass places we’ve gone before, where people care about us to some degree. Something that feels like a strong way to finish out the year,” Alex says. “We can completely burn out on this tour knowing that we’ve got time off coming up.”

Then it’s Quiet Slang’s turn, after which the band gets back to the studio for Beach Slang’s third album, which Alex says probably won’t be coming out until fall of 2018. But after that?

Maybe new wave.

“I’ve toyed with the idea of new wave. I have such an affinity for new wave,” Alex says.

Beach Slang, James Alex

“I’ve been delving into really synth-heavy stuff rather than the guitar thing, like The Cars, Psychedelic Furs, even Flock of Seagulls,” Alex says. “I wrote a couple things and, wow, I kinda dig this, but where does it go? Maybe I make a one-off record, no real pursuit of it, but it’s something I want to make.”

After playing with a punk band, then a cello, why not?

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