January 20th, 2009 | Interviews

alice rutherford

Download: Beach House “Gila”


(from Devotion on Car Park)

Baltimore’s Beach House make songs for a slower place on their newest 2XLP Devotion. Alex Scally—the member of the band not related to Michel Legrand—speaks now while on an endless tour. This interview by Camella Lobo.

You guys don’t quit. I saw you this past March in Minneapolis with the Papercuts and it doesn’t seem like you’ve stopped touring since.
Alex Scally (guitar/keys): We’ve toured Europe twice since then. We’ve been doing tons of cool things in the U.S. We did a round-robin tour, which is kind of a new touring idea. It was 29 bands from Baltimore and we all went out together and we’d play two nights in each city we went to. We’d go and set up our own PAs and then we’d perform in a circle. Each band would play one song at a time. People are really excited about the new format. There’s no opener or headliner and there was video stuff, theater and performance art as well.
You talked before about being frustrated playing the same songs over and over again—did that break up the monotony?
It was awesome to be around so many people who—in my opinion—don’t have a certain type of really annoying music career vision. It got me back in the spirit that I’m normally in when I’m not on tour all the time. It’s just like, ‘Let’s make a lot of music, and show it to people and have a really good time.’ And not have it be anything like, ‘Oh, I wish the turnout had been more.’ That thinking about music that is really annoying and negative.
That brought it back home for you?
Yeah. And also because that’s so much of what Baltimore is. It’s an amazing place with supportive people and a great energy. It’s really easy for us to tour in America because we get into such a rhythm and I really understand the mentality of Americans. But when I go to Europe I have a really hard time with the language barrier and every country has such a different culture surrounding live music and it’s really interesting to see how it plays out. On this last tour we had a really great time and we went to a lot of places that we’ve never been to before. We had a lot of interesting responses. We had an amazing time in Australia earlier this year. There’s a certain energy in places that that are really far away that I love—places like Helsinki and Australia, or Portugal. They’re never on the main circuit so when people actually come to the shows they are so ready to experience it and they enjoy it. I really, really love that.
How do you feel when you’re in L.A.?
I’m just fascinated by it. Victoria [Legrand, organ/vocals] and I don’t really understand it. There are so many people reaching and everybody is trying to be something. It’s really interesting. Everyone has like a weird costume on. But I love the feeling I get when I’m there. It’s like anything can happen at any given moment. There’s a lot of spontaneous American energy there. We wandered around in Malibu one time and we saw Mel Gibson’s house. Oh, and we also saw Roseanne Barr’s house with all of these gaudy statues out front.
Since you guys started touring it seems like your style has changed a lot—now you’re wearing all white and you have these crazy enchantment-under-the-sea lights going on.
We have to be really excited every night if our music is going to come through and actually mean something to people. It can’t just be like we make a record and we take it on the road and we’re not inspired. It has to be constantly exciting for us. It’s really influencing us. We’re starting to write songs where Victoria is free or she doesn’t have to be at the keyboard and she can move. There are so many ways that touring has influenced us as far as how we want to compose things and how we want to feel when we’re performing it live. Performance is becoming a major part of our music. We’ve been learning a lot about how to bring our songs to life. It’s awesome. I think Victoria is really visually gifted because she has really amazing visions when she listens to music. All of our videos have gone a certain way. She’ll have this vision of what the video should look like. We bring it to someone and we don’t have any money, so we’ll all brainstorm. It’s part our vision and part their vision. It’s really interesting. I’m really excited about the videos we’re going to make in the future. We’ve been toying around with releasing a DVD with our next record that has a video for every single song. We want to maybe commission some friends in Baltimore and other people we’ve met to run with it. We want to start building this mass of visual content to go along with our music.
Is that third album going to come out on Car Park, too?
I don’t know. We’ve been trying to stay away from the all of the businessy-type things because they really contribute bad energy. At the point where we are in our musical life, there are going to be people who will try to ruin us and give us bad deals and tell us stupid things that will point us in the wrong direction. I think we’re just trying to preserve ourselves and stay really innocent and stay really excited about the music. I don’t really care who puts it out or what happens to it. I just want it to be looked at as music and art, and not as anything else. I just want to destroy the hype and have people out there that really like our music.
Is it hard to get away from the press machine?
I don’t know. We’ve been really happy working with independent labels and doing things in a positive way. I just hope that the growth is natural and isn’t too fast or anything. People always put things in a box and they always put slants on things. They’ve done that from the very beginning to every band, even the best bands, and that’s totally fine. I just think things need to be motivated by what’s true—true inspiration and true interest. When someone writes about you, they have to really like you. It’s awesome that you’ve seen us three times because sometimes people will interview you and be like, ‘Soooo, dream pop—like what does that mean?’ It’s just awesome when things are actually related to reality.