Watching the Stars Align with James Alex Snyder of Beach Slang

Interview by Nicholas Parco
Words by Waster Staff
Photo by Craig Scheihing

“We are awake with hearts to riot. We are young and alive.” Beach Slang’s Tumblr page is littered with lyrics like this – some uplifting, some dark – but all brutally honest. Scrolling through, the posts read like a diary, filtered from the mind of the band’s songwriter and front-man, James Alex Snyder.

On the heels of the release of Beach Slang’s debut full-length album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, Snyder talks about his progress as a songwriter, his path to success, and what’s in store for the road ahead.

While Beach Slang is fairly new to the punk scene, Snyder is no rookie – before forming the band, he played with the Philly-based pop punk act Weston. When he and his self-proclaimed ‘brothers’ from Weston stopped touring, Snyder kept his creative juices flowing at art school.

“If I can’t make a living playing guitar, what can I do that won’t make me want to jump off a ledge?”, he says of his decision to pursue a career in graphic design. “I was doing that until Beach Slang got too busy … but I was really learning how to become a better songwriter.”

All that turmoil filled the grooves of Beach Slang’s early releases – two 7-inches, 2014′s Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street, and its companion, Who Would Ever Want Something So Broken? With a vibe that channels the sounds of The Replacements and The Gaslight Anthem, the raw appeal of these songs caught on quick with listeners. By February of 2015, Beach Slang signed with Polyvinyl Records, which is home to acts like White Reaper, of Montreal, Japandroids and more.

A humbled Snyder chalks up Beach Slang’s recent success to pure luck.

“Sometimes stars line up”, he says. “Getting any buzz or hype, it’s more magic than anything else. I attribute it to being in the right place at the right time. It’s weird, awesome, and we’re just trying to enjoy it while it’s here.”

For Beach Slang’s major label debut, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, Snyder pushed himself to be even more open and exposed with his songwriting.

“I have enough under me that I can say a thing or two and it can help someone”, Snyder says of his lyrics. “The things I used to write were guarded, but I wanna strip that junk off and be honest, open, and put it out there. That’s what I needed to do. I felt vulnerable, but that’s the stuff of a real writer.”

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us drops on October 30th, and Beach Slang will tour the U.S. through December before heading overseas to the UK and Europe in 2016.

“We’re gonna be fearless about shows. We’re gonna bleed it out and give it to people”, Snyder declares. “It’s healthy for me to play hard and mean it, because that’s where I’m writing from. This is a rock and roll band”, he concludes, “I just wanna play my guts out.” | Hearts to Riot