Photo By: Madison McConkey
Black Beach is a Boston three-piece rock and roll band (Ben Semeta on bass, Steven Instasi on guitar/vox and Ryan Nicholson on the drums) who are releasing their new LP Shallow Creatures this week and premiering a music video for the song “Nervous All The Time” today, right here, on Lo-Pie.
We first became aware of Black Beach when bassist Ben Semeta hit us up to review a compilation he had put together of local Boston groups called House of the Rising Fuzz. Needless to say, we loved it, and have been keeping an ear out for more weird noises emanating out of MA, of which there are many according to Black Beach drummer Ryan Nicholsan. “There are soooo many great bands going for it in Boston right now,” he says. “All too often I’ll go to a show and just wonder to myself, ‘Why aren’t there hundreds of people here right now?’
Sounds like the best kind of scene to me! Black Beach was nice enough to answer a few questions via email about their history, music and (of course) the importance of basements and basement parties in developing a strong scene. Read on to learn even more fun facts about Black Beach, such as their recommendation for where to find a good burrito in Boston (which, as a Californian, I find hard to believe but will take their word for it.) But first, peep their rad music video, which starts out with tour footage of the bands showing up to pick up their bandmates for a 14 hour drive, only to find last night’s party turning into this morning’s hangover.
Black Beach – “Nervous All The Time”
What’s the history behind your band? How long have you been playing?
Ben: Me and Steve, the guitar player, have been playing together for like 10 years now. Ryan, the drummer, started jamming with us like 6 years ago. We’ve been a number a different projects between then and now, same line up just different stuff. I mean, naturally, as teenagers we were a pop punk band, that turned to a hardcore band, that turned to a thrashy metal band, then we became Black Beach I think around 2013? And then we moved from the south shore of Massachusetts to Boston.
Steve: I think Ryan pretty much missed out on all of the embarrassing incarnations of me and Ben’s music career. He was my neighbor growing up and was actually a guitarist when he joined the band. I just knew he had a drumset at his house he had been messing around with so we just figured he would figure it out.
Ryan: We’ve been playing together for well over 6 years now, but the concept that drive Black Beach didn’t come to full-fruit until 3 years ago. Ever since then our sense of purpose and direction has been much more defined.
Give us the scoop on the new Black Beach record Shallow Creatures. I feel like your new stuff is a lot more hard rock and a lot less psych. Was there anything specific you were trying to do or say with the music?
Ben: I don’t think we’ve ever been overtly psych. We’ve definitely been influenced more by the hard rock of the 60′s and 70′s like Black Sabbath and The Stooges, or Blue Cheer than we have by psychedelic bands like The Grateful Dead, or 13th floor elevators or something. Not that I don’t dig those bands…well, I don’t like the Dead.
Steve: Yeah we’re really into The Stooges and stuff like Ben said, as well as a bunch of other stuff like 80s/90s Seattle stuff (the cool stuff not Pearl Jam), doom and stoner metal stuff, I’m really into jazz (been pretty much listening to only John and Alice Coltrane all month) so there’s definitely a wide range of influences that went into the record, but I can’t really pinpoint anything specific. If there was a shift in sound it wasn’t a conscious one.
Ryan: I think the music speaks for itself, and the listener will surely understand that. As more the sound of the record, it is definitely a lot more modern; a lot of bands ride the psych wave a little too hard and kind of just end of rehashing sounds that have been apparent in music for years past. We’re trying to make a sound that pushes the listener, something a little more modern and new. Surely psych and classic rock are apparent influences in our music, but we try to synthesize them into more contemporary ideas instead of draw from them blatantly.
Heavy psych rock is kind of getting stale in California but, as we heard on recent comp House of the Rising Fuzz, it’s still kicking in Boston! What would you say the scene is like out there right now?
Ben: The Boston music scene is pretty sweet. Not just for garage rock, or psych rock, but theres a lot of cool bands coming out of here. Sure we have all those bands that shredded on the House of the Rising Fuzz, but we also got bands like Vundabar, who are a little bit more pop, and bands like Ursula and Pucker Up who really will make you feel uncomfortable in the best way. Something I’m seeing is a lot of is effort from people other than musicians to help this scene. Theres this thing called Fuzzstival hosted by Illegally Blind and its been THE festival over the summer the past 3 years. Its really created bridges between bands, bookers, other artists, local djs, and blogs. SO after 3 fuzzstivals, people are inspired. We have a lot of cool fests in the city popping up now, like Fools Day Fest on April Fools day, or this fest that showcases just the 2 piece bands in the state. And all sorts of other compilations coming out now. It’s cool to see people just go for something they wanna do and just do it.
Steve: There are so many awesome bands in Boston right now. The comp Ben put together was a really great display of just a small amount of bands we play with and see on a regular basis, but there are so many more that either weren’t on the comp or started after it came out. Double Buschemis are a sweet two piece garage rock band, The Mardi Kings slay (kinda like a Monsieurs, Nice Guys, Barbazons, Earthquake Party! super group), Doug Tuttle, Idiot Genes are a really cool punk band. There’s a bunch of other really awesome bands outside of the whole garage rock/pysch thing like Lady Pills, Stumpf, Mini Dresses. Boston rules for music right now. We’re Creaturos fanboys too. <3
Ryan: The scene out here is crazy! There are soooo many great bands going for it in Boston right now. All too often I’ll go to a show and just wonder to myself, “Why aren’t there hundreds of people here right now?” The Boston music scene is bubbling hard and once it breaks into a wider, more mainstream audience I think it has a chance to be real successful.
We interviewed Nice Guys, another Boston band that was on the House of the Rising Fuzz comp, and they mentioned basements as being a huge factor in their band and music. Is that also true for Black Beach?
Ben: Basement shows are the funnest. Its a party with a goal. The turnouts are usually amazing, the energy is always great, and its just this intimate environment to watch a band play their rawest and most honest sets.
Steve: Basements are the best place to play. There seems to be a bunch more popping up lately as well. Hopefully cops don’t fuck it up for everyone again.
Ryan: Absolutely. We grew up practice and recording in basements, and basement shows are simply the best time. If you’ve ever been to a basement show that’s really really lit, than I don’t need to explain to you how tangible the energy is.
Who directed the video for “Nervous” and how did it come together?
Ben: That was directed by Andrew Gibson. He does great work and has done a number of videos in the city for a number of bands, like Nice Guys and Midriffs.
Ryan: Andrew Gibson is a camera wizard! He rolled with us on our last tour and simply did his thing, partied with us, and captured the magic.
The video looks like it’s made up of actual footage from a tour you went on.
Ben: Yeah, thats all footage from our 2 week tour with our friends MIDRIFFS. they rock.
Ryan: You know it!
Who’s idea was it to have that extended intro about picking up your bandmates? It’s really funny!
Ben: So, that was Gibson’s idea. Me and TJ from midriffs were planning this tour for a few months. We all decided to that we needed to leave, be on the road, no later than 8:30am. Our first drive was a 14 hour drive to Chapel Hill, NC. So me and Steve and Gibson show up to Midriffs’ house and they’re all in bed. No one is answering the phone. Granted me and the boys in Midriffs got a little drunk the night before, but c’mon. We Finally got them up and I think we left Boston at like 10am.
Steve: I was running late all morning and I got really paranoid I would show up and they would all be waiting for me. Turns out I was the first one there and I froze to death outside (it was 3 degrees when we left I think) cause no one was up.
Any advice for bands touring to Boston e.g. where to play, who to hit up for promotion, what to avoid, where to
Ben: Uhhh… mean theres a lot of people that do shows in Boston. Some of the best are done by Illegally Blind, Fast Apple, Show Mom, Boston Hassle, KLYAM, Allston Pudding. There are a lot of houses but I ain’t no snitch. Bands are welcome to hit us up on Facebook and we will try and set them up the best we can. As far as food goes. Bravo Pizza in Allston.
Steve: Go get yourself a burrito at Amelia’s (seriously Anna’s is mediocre at best, don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise), or if you’re in the Mission Hill area get Il Mondo’s or Crispy Dough pizza. Or Mission Sushi & Wok. Falafel from Falafel Palace or Mass Chicken in Cambridge. Indian from Bukhara in JP. All I do is get delivery and watch the X-Files so if you ever want to talk about food just message our Facebook.
Ryan: There are so many good venues and people to connect with in Boston… just don’t play at O’Briens.
Ben: O’Briens isn’t that bad.
When’s the new record going to be released? Do you have tours planned afterwards?
Ben: The record comes out the 4th. We have a killer show set up by Illegally Blind at a club called The Middle East. Then we are doing a little weekend tour that weekend to Amherst MA, and Brooklyn NY. And probably another couple weeks over the summer.
Favorite kind of pie?
Ben: Pumpkin pie. The shitty kind. And Lo-pie, of course .
Steve: Apple, banana cream, blueberry, Lo, pumpkin.