While PHILTHY loves Beach Day, Philly has failed to show the Hollywood, Florida band too much brotherly love or sisterly affection… Sadly, none of the girl-group-inspired garage surf rock outfit’s three Philadelphia appearances last year were welcomed with especially inspiring attendances. In fact, in my most recent chat with guitarist/vocalist Kimmy Drake, who has become a personal friend of mine, I tell her that myself and Philly misses Beach Day (who haven’t played the city since last September), and she laughs and says, “I kind of think you’re the only one.” When I ask her her blunt take on Philadelphia, she admits, “I think it’s a tough city to come from out of town and play in. I think it’s a tough city to win over if you’re not from the area and touring and not able to play there on a regular basis.” However, we do have a secret weapon of sorts. Beach Day is currently on a West Coast tour with our very own Amanda X, whom I’m hoping can help convince them to give Philly another shot.
I first met Kimmy Drake and Beach Day last spring. They were currently on tour in preparation of the release of their debut album, Trip Trap Attack, which came out last June on Kanine Records. At the time Beach Day was a trio, comprised of Drake, drummer Skyler Black, and bassist/vocalist Natalie Smallish. Since then Natalie has left the fold, the group has undergone a number of different (albeit temporary) line-up changes before eventually deciding to “officially” be duo, has done several dozen tours, and written and recorded the songs of Native Echoes, their sophomore LP, which Kanine has set to drop Tuesday, August 19th. When I ask Kimmy about her favorite things to happen to Beach Day in the last year and a half she tells me that nearly every facet has proven to be inspiring at some point: “Definitely a lot of the touring was really fun and recording the new record was definitely a highlight.”
And while Kimmy Drake and Skyler Black being the sole official members of Beach Day seems new, Kimmy tells me that it’s actually a throwback to the band’s earliest days.
“We started as a two-piece and played our first two months as a band just the two of us. I mean, we eventually had a bassist, but she had a kid and couldn’t fully commit and after a number of lineup changes we just decided, ‘Let’s just have us be the core members and have people tour with us.’ I’m really hesitant to commit to any other band member. I mean it’s a lifestyle being in a band: feast or famine.”
The recording of Native Echoes had Beach Day temporarily relocating from the surfy sunniness of Hollywood, which Kimmy has described as resembling an R. Crumb painting, to the both literally and figuratively iciness of wintertime Detroit, where they had the album produced, recorded, and mixed by Jim Diamond, most famous for his work with The Dirtbombs and The White Stripes. And while the cold and gritty mecca of urban Americana that is the Detroit would seem to be the polar opposite of 1950s suburbanism that is South Florida, Kimmy tells me that she quite enjoys her time in the Motor City (despite not always being in possession of the proper wardrobe).
“I love Detroit so much. I would consider moving there. I love the city and the little boroughs are amazing, the city gardens and great restaurants. And I love the people there. The people are so real there. I mean, we’re near Fort Lauderdale and Miami and the people are just so different here.”
I ask Kimmy about Detroit’s history of music and she tells me that it’s perfectly aligned with her own personal tastes: “It has such a rich history of garage rock and girl groups, which are like my favorite things.” And when I ask her about her favorite Detroit musical acts, she tells me that they are countless and cut across many genres: “I have a bunch, like Death, they’re so good. Of course I like the White Stripes, everyone likes the White Stripes. And The Go… and The Supremes are one of my all-time favorites.” We then go on to discuss our mutual love of grittier Motor City rockers, like The Stooges, The MC5, The Von Bondies, and Alice Cooper… back when Alice Cooper was a transvestite making glam and noise music…
Musically, Native Echoes embodies all of the breezy, fuzzy whimsicality of Beach Day’s debut, while making their love of proto-punk, post-punk, psychedelic riffs, and pop balladry that much more obvious. It’s the perfect soundtrack for that brand of “hip” that find nothing wrong with donning their black skintights to a seaside sundown. At times it even resembles an embodiment of The Runaways on a summer vacation. It avoids “classic” “love songs,” largely referring to a desire to hold hands or penetrate, for the far more meaningful “loves” that truly have a profound impact on your perception of the world… regardless of whether or not the two of you have ever spent a substantial amount of time considering sleeping arrangements.
Kimmy discussed Native Echoes, in comparison to Trip Trap Attack, and tells me that she feels like she and Skyler have come quite a long way in that relatively short amount of time and also that the album’s influences were somewhat widespread.
“I feel like it’s quite a progression. I was thinking about ‘60s films, like ‘60s film soundtracks, like the big one was Valley of the Dolls and then those crazy spaghetti westerns with those bass-heavy soundtracks. But then I love the Raveonettes and the harmonies they do and then The Chiffons, who I just got really heavily into this year. You don’t hear girl groups with those guitar riffs. And, of course, I love surf music.”
Kimmy, Skyler and Beach Day’s extended cast are currently having a blast out West (with the exception of mysteriously disappearing set lists) and currently don’t have anything in the Mid-Atlantic on the books, but they do plan to do some touring later this year (And Kimmy informally has told me that they expect to be back in Philthy before the end of the year.): “After this batch of dates we’re going to be back home in September, finishing our videos, but we’re going to be doing a little more touring as well. We’ll be back out in October and do a little touring in November.” Finally, I ask her what fans can expect of a Beach Day live show (and which I’m hoping might convince a reasonable Philly crowd to eventually turn out for a local stop) and she explains, “Definitely come out because it’s gonna be fun. It’ll probably be controlled chaos. Definitely plan to rock out with super loud music.”