Nick Santino Talks the Return of Beach Weather (3/17 at The Foundry)

Alternative pop-rock trio Beach Weather are just about two years into the band’s second go-round, after a five-year hiatus.  This time around lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nick Santino...

Alternative pop-rock trio Beach Weather are just about two years into the band’s second go-round, after a five-year hiatus.  This time around lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nick Santino and bassist Reeve Powers (who originally started the band in 2015) are joined by lead guitarist  and producer Sean Silverman.  Since reuniting, the band signed to Arista Records, released their first full-length (Pineapple Sunrise, which dropped in March of 2023), found a hit single in their song “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” (which was originally found on 2016’s Chit Chat EP, but whose rerelease landed at #1 on the Alt Radio charts last year), had their late night debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and played a number of major festivals, like Bottlerock, Hangout Fest, and Shaky Knees, in addition to a mostly-sold-out run supporting The Beaches throughout Canada last year.  Beach Weather are currently about two weeks into their first-ever headlining tour, and will be appearing at The Foundry this coming Sunday, March 17th.  Shortly before the band hit the road, I got a chance to chat with Beach Weather co-founder Nick Santino about the group’s whirlwind two years and the things that most inspire the three musicians these days.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Izzy Cihak: This is a big question, but I realized it’s been just over two years since the band has been back together.  What have been some of the highlights of this second time around for you, after a break of almost five years?

Nick Santino: We’ve had a lot of really cool things happen to this band over the past couple of years.  Obviously starting with the success of “Sex, Drugs, Etc.,” a song that we wrote in 2016 and recorded in our friend’s shed in his backyard in Arizona [laughs].  Somehow it came back all these years later and kind of brought us out of “retirement,” I guess you could say…

We got to play our first time ever doing late night.  We got to do Jimmy Kimmel Live! last year.  We got to play our first ever arena show at the Kia Forum last year with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fall Out Boy and all these crazy artists.  I think we’ve been able to do a lot of really cool things last year and we’re very fortunate and grateful for all of it.  We didn’t think this band would be going much further a few years back, so to be here doing it now, the best it’s ever been, it feels pretty amazing!

Izzy: Do you feel like you and Reeve work together and approach music in a particularly different way than you did the first time around?

Nick: I feel like we all do.  We’re all older now, we’ve all been beat up and experienced the music industry in all different ways and aspects, throughout our individual careers and as Beach Weather.  For me personally, during our break and before we got back together like two years ago, I was home, I got married, I had two kids, I kind of started living life and not just being a guy on tour in a band.  I started to look at everything else, all aspects of life: paying bills, having a family, kind of being mature…  I think that we make more mature decisions than we would have in the past.  Just having more years and experience in this whole thing, I think it’s a good mindset to be in, bringing this band back around and having a good shot at it again.

Like I said, before we didn’t really think any of us would be able to do this again, or we were all kind of eyeing different paths for our future.  So, to be able to bring this back and do it all over again in a way that feels refreshing and new, it feels like a completely different band in all the best ways.  Just getting together to play music live is so exciting for us, still.  To feel that at 35 years old feels refreshing.  And I think Reeve can definitely say the same thing.  He’ll be 30 this year and Sean’s 36.  I think having a new outlook and perspective on the whole thing helps us make every decision with this band worth it for us, and it keeps it exciting!

Izzy: Pineapple Sunrise, your debut LP, has been out for close to a year now.  Have you had any favorite reactions to the album from fans, whether things they’ve reached out to tell you or just reactions it’s gotten from live audiences?

Nick: I feel like people dig it for the most part.  We get a lot of people sending us videos from Target when they hear “Pineapple Sunrise” [laughs].  Like, my mom’s heard it in Target before, which is pretty cool, to be reaching all these people in a bigger audience than we ever expected… and we see it from a lot of fans online, certain songs that are their favorite songs and mean certain things to them for certain reasons.  And it’s cool that people don’t always just like the singles that you’re pushing.  They’ll find the deep cut or whatever and it’s their favorite song and it helped them through one time.  That’s the reason we write these songs and that’s why we give every song we write its own attention.  If we can create something that people feel an emotional attachment to, that’s a job well done on my side, I feel like!  It makes me feel great that I’m able to do something like that.

Izzy: On a related note, do you have a particular favorite album track at the moment, whether one that’s most fun to play live or that may even hint at where future sounds are headed?

Nick: I’ve always liked “High & Driving.”  That was one that we kind of started to write toward the beginning of our break in 2017.  We kind of had that idea floating around, and then we really wrote it in 2021 or something like that.  That was fun; it’s got a dark, sexy, dancy vibe.  It translates really nicely live.  “Unlovable” is cool because it’s got a heavier, grungier vibe.  I think some of the new stuff that we’re working on is a little like that.  But even songs from our earlier EPs, I think a lot of our new music is kind of in the world of “Swoon” and even “Sex, Drugs, Etc.,” but we never like to write the same song twice.  We like to always surprise ourselves with the next song we write.

Izzy: Speaking of “Unlovable,” you also released a version with Heather [Baron-Gracie] from Pale Waves, who I also love.  How did you get hooked up with her, and how was working with her?

Nick: To be completely honest, I have never met her [laughs].  That’s how the world works these days with the internet!  We were put in touch with each other with our record label, and we were having a conversation when “Unlovable” came out that we thought it’d be cool to do a different feature version of it…  I’ve always been a fan of duets and having a female vocalist accompanying; I’m a big sucker for harmonies and higher harmonies…  The label mentioned Pale Waves — and I didn’t know who Pale Waves were — and we asked Heather if she would be interested, and she was down.  Why I haven’t got to meet her before is I live in Boston… my guitar player and producer, Sean, lives in LA, and she was in town for a week or two.  It was nice to hear but, unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to meet her yet [laughs].  That’s just the reality of busy schedules, but also the kind of cool thing about the internet.  Somebody that you never thought would be a possibility, could wind up being on a record or a song with you, and that’s really cool.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the band’s most significant collective influences at this point, whether musical or otherwise?

Nick: Everything really!  We talked a lot about that…  Pretty much all of January we spent in the studio writing and recording a new record and we’re pretty much done with it.  We’re in the process of getting a final version mixed and ready for this year sometime.

The whole time we were in the studio, we really started to feel ourselves figuring out, “This is what we do!”  Like I said, we don’t really write the same thing twice.  People that think we’re gonna write “Sex, Drugs, Etc. 2.0” might have another thing coming.  We might do songs that scratch that same itch, but we’re not going to write that song again.  I think what we really noticed when we were making music is that the minute you can pull yourself away from what you’re perceived as, or what people think the one sound you make is, and you’re like, “Hey!  We can actually make other sounds that are just as cool as that sound, and we’ll prove it!”

We’re all from different backgrounds.  Sean and Alex [Silverman, touring keyboardist] are brothers from New York; they grew up in Brooklyn and they live in LA and Phoenix now.  I’m from Boston, and I grew up listening to a lot of pop music with my sister and I went to a lot of hardcore and punk shows in middle school and high school.  Reeve is from Nashville, and he grew up around a lot of folk and Americana and country and rock n’ roll and stuff like that.  So, we kind of all have our own takes on music.

When we were making this new record, it was less of, “Let’s make a song that sounds like this band,” and more so we would be writing and be like, “Oh shit!  This kind of has a Beatles-y vibe, doesn’t it?”  Maybe it doesn’t sound like “Sgt. Pepper’s…” and it doesn’t sound like “Yellow Submarine,” but something in what we were working on that moment reminded us of something we liked.

I was born in 1988, so back in 1998 my big fandoms were Limp Bizkit and Slipknot and all the nu-metal at the time.  There were moments in these heavy songs where, it doesn’t sound like Limp Bizkit, but there’s parts where I’ll go, “Why does this make me smile?” and it’s because it does the thing that I loved about music in middle school.  I love the heavy breakdown thing.  It might not sound like Fred Durst, but when you can bring in those influences and apply it in your own way, where people hear it and are like, “I hear what you were going for, but you totally pulled it off in a way that works out for you guys!” that’s what we really started to do, rather than go, “Let’s model a whole song after this song that already exists.”

I went on a run one morning — when we were making the record — and I was listening to Nevermind from Nirvana and it got to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – classic song, everybody knows the song – and when it hits that guitar solo, and it’s not like a great guitar solo, but there’s something about the messiness of it and the sound of the tone that makes it so iconic and amazing!  I took that into the studio that day and was like, “How do we do something similar to that?”  Not the same thing, but how do we have that same mindset?  How do we apply a weird, fuzzy, grungey guitar solo to what we’re doing?

So, we would challenge ourselves to try to find a way to fit a square peg through a round hole.  And I feel like a lot of the time it worked, and it surprised us in a lot of ways.  I mean, that’s just our own opinion of it [laughs].  We’ll see when the record comes out if people agree with that.  But it was nice.  It was refreshing.  It wasn’t us sitting around and comparing ourselves, being like, “Why don’t we sound like this band,” or, “Why don’t we sound like that band?”  For Beach Weather, we’ve never done that.  We always try to impress ourselves with what we’re able to do.  And sometimes it falls flat and sometimes it’s cool and it works out for us.  But, I guess, long story short, we listen to everything from The Beatles to The Velvet Underground to Limp Bizkit to Suki Waterhouse.  There’s nothing that we don’t listen to, and we try to apply all of that into our music, if that makes sense…

Izzy: Next month you kick off what I understand is technically your first-ever headlining tour.  Are there any dates that you’re especially excited about?

Nick: Philly is sold out, which is awesome!  We always love a sold-out show, so we’re looking forward to Philly!  There’re a handful of shows that are sold-out, where three months ago we thought,” Oh, man, we’re only going to get like 50 people to these shows.”  And now we’re looking at like seven shows that have sold out…  I think the whole thing, being able to just walk out onstage and go, “Oh, man, all these people got tickets to come see our band?  Are you sure?  Do you want a refund?”  [Laughs] I think that’s where we’re still at!  We still have this mindset of, “No way!  It’s not really happening!”

Even with “Sex, Drugs, Etc.,” when that started to do its thing on radio last year and give us all these cool opportunities, we were like, “Someone’s lying to us!”  Like, “We’re being Punk’d!  There’s no way this is actually happening!”  We’re used to just being that band where we don’t get cool things that happen to us that often.  So, when we see people are actually buying tickets to come see us live and this is official, we’re putting every ounce of ourselves into this tour.

We’re already planning our stage look.  Sean’s been busting his ass on getting the setlist together.  We’re putting a lot of care and a lot of detail into these shows, and I hope it translates for all the people that’ve spent money to come out!  I designed all of the merch, and I think it looks pretty cool.  I hope people agree when they see it!  We just care very much this time around.  Not that we didn’t before, but right now it feels special.  It feels like we’ve finally figured ourselves out and we just wanted to show that, like, “Here’s Beach Weather!  We do some cool stuff!”  We think, at least!

Izzy: You’ve actually been playing a lot of really massive festivals and some pretty huge nightclubs as support, so these will be some of the most intimate shows you’ve played in a while.  How do you like playing these kind of mid-sized rooms where everything’s definitely up close and personal?

Nick: I love it!  But it’s definitely more exposing, it’s definitely more vulnerable.  Even at a sold-out show, at 500 people that’s different than playing a festival where there’s 5,000 people.  There’s something about a big crowd of people, like 5,000 or more, and you stop looking at it as people.  It’s just a big sea of heads….  For me, my eyes go blurry when I play festivals.  I don’t even really notice that I’m looking at a bunch of people.

When you’re in a venue, it’s like you could sit there and have a conversation with every single person, if you wanted to.  It’s a little bit more exposing, so I feel like I need to be on top of my game [laughs].  But there’s something really cool about that, as well.  I love that, being able to point to the guy in the back of the crowd that is taller than the people around him and being able to have an interaction with him.

We’re guys that toured in vans for ten years and carried our gear through back bar doors and up and down staircases and all this stuff.  So, we thrive in 400/500 cap rooms, dingy little clubs, and stuff.  I think the sweatier the environment, that’s where you really wanna enjoy a cool rock show.  But it is nerve-wracking!  By the end of the night, you know everybody’s face.  With a festival, there’s so many people, that you’re just like, “I can’t see everybody later.”  But you can meet every single person at a show, which we plan on doing on this tour, and we’re so excited for that!

Izzy: It’s funny that you say that, because I interview artists all the time and they’re like, “Honestly, opening for Mitski in front of 3,000 people, that’s easy!  It’s when there’s like 50/100 people staring at you, who know the words that it’s like, ‘We gotta be on our game…’”

Nick: Yeah!  Like, when we played the Kia Forum in LA, doing this alter ego show for a radio station, it was amazing, but it was our first time ever stepping out onstage in front of an arena full of people, like 17,000 people.  And I really only remember the floor [laughs].  Looking back in my brain, I distinctly remember the first couple of rows that were sitting on the floor.  Everything else – to me, in my peripherals, up in the bleachers, up in the stands all the way in the back – just looked like someone pulled down a movie screen and they’re just projecting [laughs].  Your brain can only comprehend the first couple of rows, at least for me…  Maybe you get used to it when you’re Harry Styles and you’re staring at seas of people every night.  But, for us, it was just like, “Whoa, this is like playing in front of a movie screen!”  But, when you’re at a bar, the guy in the back can yell at you and be like, “You guys suck!” and it’s like, “Shit!  I heard that.”  That’s a little different [laughs].

Izzy: Finally — and I didn’t know you had new music already in the works — what’s next for you?  How are you hoping and planning to spend the second half of 2024?  When can we maybe expect the new music, whether it be in a live setting or an actual thing?

Nick: We were kind of sneaky working on music.  With our lifestyles now — we all live in different places, I’m married with two children, Sean’s married with a dog, and Reeve lives in Nashville — we kind of have to plan our schedules a little more selectively than in the past.  In the past, it was like any opportunity that came knockin’, it was like, “Hell yeah!  Write our name down!  We’ll be in the van and on the way.”  Now we have more schedules, like my wife is a flight attendant for JetBlue, so I have to fit my schedule around her schedule to make my kids be able to go to school on time, and then also for Sean’s wife…  There’s a lot more these days for us to factor in.

For me, I’m a family guy through and through.  My kids and my wife come first for everything, even though the band is right up there with it [laughs].  This year we’re doing this tour, we have a handful of festival stuff lined up, we are hopefully putting out a record in the summertime, hoping to start announcing songs in the next couple of months and put out singles (after the tour maybe), but we’re trying to put the focus on the Pineapple Sunrise Tour right now.  Once that tour’s coming closer to an end, we’ll probably shift gears into new music world.  Hopefully we can land some sort of tour that is cool and beneficial for us in the summer.  And then our plan for the fall is hopefully we can find some sort of touring opportunity that works for us and our schedules and our lifestyles.

I think we all love playing shows live, so as much as we can would be amazing, without killing ourselves and running ourselves into the ground too much [laughs].  We do have to take it easy on ourselves; we are getting a little older [laughs] and have family lives.  They take a little more time and there’s a little more responsibility there.  We’re just trying to do it the best we can without overworking ourselves, but also feeling like we’re busting our asses at the same time.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.