Just across the Charles River from Harvard University is a D.I.Y. musical mecca home to some of Boston’s gutsiest fledgling bands. One such band keeping the area noisy is Massachusetts trio Black Beach. Floating in the realm between 60s garage and scuzzy grunge, Black Beach are quickly making a name for themselves in the scene. Their new album Shallow Creatures is a compact morsel of distorted vocals, heavy chugging riffs and swirling guitar solos with each song seeming to forge a path for itself and do its best to get your attention.
Self Portrait is an impressively full sounding opener for a band of three people. With Steven Intasi’s unreserved vocals, Ben Sementa a heavy presence on bass, and Ryan Nicholson playing some hard to ignore drums, the trio pulse along like a freight train, making a sound larger than themselves.
Black Beach let loose on the title track. Shallow Creatures is a non-stop assault lasting only two-minutes. Undeniably loud and straightforward there’s a surfy element to their sound, which adds a unique melody to the guitars and Intasi’s vocals and separates Black Beach from the countless others trying to achieve a similar result.
Holding up the rear of the album, The Youth Is Out There is another stand out. The vocals are a panicked accompaniment to the tightness of the band’s duelling guitars. Nicholson’s drumming is simple but powers along impressively. A six-minute monster, the band does offer a brief reprieve in the middle, only to roar back guns blazing for a chaotic but satisfying end.
In the wake of this impressive new release Black Beach were kind enough to speak with us about the album and their plans for the next few months.
You’ve been grouped with a range of different genres from 60s surf rock to 90s underground grunge… How would you personally define your sound?
Steven: I don’t think we really fit into any of those genres one hundred per cent, but we’re definitely into all of them so it comes through in out songs. I don’t know, I would maybe describe it as doomy surf grunge?
Ben: I usually just say we’re a rock n roll band.
Who are the main influences that come through in your sound?
Steven: Collectively our favorite bands are probably Nirvana, Black Sabbath and The Stooges, but we’re all listening to different stuff all the time so I’m sure all of that seeps into the sound subconsciously as well.
Ryan: The other day I was watching Gummo with my girlfriend, and during the part where they’re riding bikes to a Sleep song she said, “This sounds like Black Beach”.
What sort of people would enjoy your music? Who are you playing for?
Ryan: People who like loud music, people who like skateboards, people who like weed, my Mum, and anyone who’d ever thought a little too long about chemtrails.
What’s your favourite track off the new album, Shallow Creatures?
Ben: I enjoy the title track, Shallow Creatures. It’s a blast to play live and it’s quick and to the point. Also Static Sound we used an organ in the intro and that was the first time we used something besides just drums, bass, and guitar.
Ryan: Self Portrait is probably my fave. It’s our go-to opener and it really helps me zone into my performance.
The Youth Is Out There is a personal favourite, how did it come about?
Steven: Around the time we were writing it, Ryan had bought Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising, so the whole second half of the song probably just came from us driving around listening to that a lot.
Ryan: I remember at the time of writing that song, repetition and dissonance were on the mind. Steve’s single note riff at the end is that crucial drone that allowed us to go all out.
Who did you get to design the awesome cover art for Shallow Creatures?
Steven: I actually designed the cover, and the typography was done by our friend TJ of the band Midriffs.
What was the thinking behind the artwork?
Steven: There honestly wasn’t too much thought put into it. It was kinda based off something called ‘imaginary audience syndrome’ which ties in to the lyrics and common themes on the album.
Do you have plans to release a music video any time soon?
Steven: Yeah we should have some videos coming out in the nearish future.
Why did you decide to release Shallow Creatures on vinyl and cassette?
Steven: We planned on releasing as an LP, cassette and CD, but ran out of money. We plan on making the CDs pretty soon though (hopefully).
There seems to be a bit of a revival, have the cassettes been popular?
Steven: They’ve been selling pretty well. They’re really great for people who don’t have much money to spend at a show or have an older car with a cassette player in it.
Ryan: Cassettes are dope; affordable to make and they have a quick turnaround time. Hell, you can even make them at your house if you really want.
Any other local bands you can recommend?
Steven: Boston rules for music!!!