Off Topic with Beach Fossils

On Sunday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Beach Fossils at Paradise Rock Club in Boston for a quick chat before their show. They’re currently touring with Kevin Krauter and WAVVES. Kevin Krauter is another artist on Beach Fossils frontman Dustin Payseur’s record label Bayonet Records, and he kicked off the show with some smooth, mellow jams. The crowd livened up a little during Beach Fossils’ set—although they might not be traditionally considered music for moshing, a very friendly mosh pit contained about half the audience, and there were even a few crowd surfers despite the venue’s signs explicitly forbidding the activity. The set had had a nice trajectory from smooth to hard, culminating with WAVVES’ harsher punk sound. All three bands sounded wonderful and the crowd was fantastic—in fact, Payseur said it was by far the best crowd of their tour. Overall this was one of the best live shows I’ve been to. Below, find the uncut transcript of our interview, which covers a wide variety of topics including 1980s French synthwave, Usher conspiracy theories, Christmas-themed horror movies, and Kevin Smith’s giant JNCO shorts.

Luca Hinrichs: Hi, this is Luca Hinrichs with WHRB Cambridge 95.3 FM, Harvard Radio Broadcasting, and I’m here with Beach Fossils. How are you guys?

Dustin Payseur: Doin’ good.

Tommy Davidson: Hydrated.

LH: So you guys just started your tour, is that correct?

DP: Yeah, just like a few days ago.

LH: How’s it going so far?

DP: It’s been awesome, we’re like, touring with Kevin Krauter and WAVVES, and it’s really fun to be with like a big crew, you know, with a bunch of people you get to hang out with every night. It feels like a party every night.

LH: That’s nice! Do you guys like touring or do you prefer just staying home and working on stuff?

DP: I like both, I think they both complement each other.

Jack Doyle Smith: It’s a good break from the other one. The grass is always greener, you kinda get that grass once in a while.

LH: What’s your favorite part of touring?

TD: Getting to hang out with my best friends.

JDS: Sharing beds with each other is so much fun.

DP: It is! We make a lot of fun. Last night in the green room at the venue, we made a Beach Fossils haunted house. It was unbelievable. It was a high-production…

JDS: I will remember that for the rest of my life.

DP: It was really good! We got Kevin Krauter’s band to go through, they got scared, we got WAVVES to go through. WAVVES went through multiple times.

JDS: One of them went through alone, which was like, I was like, you are brave.

DP: It was legitimately scary. And then we also made up a game in the green room, we have some good times.

TD: I think, in the Groundhog Day schedule of touring, green room hangs, it’s where you get that creative outlet. Weird things happen in the green room. You don’t know what’s gonna happen in the green room. It’s the beauty and the mystery of the green room.

DP: What happens in the green room stays in the Instagram stories. And on this interview.

LH: Yes, on this interview.

JDS: You heard it here first.

LH: What are you guys playing in the tour van right now?

JDS: Well we have a PS4.

DP: We watched Ninja Turtles Secret of the Ooze the other night. Well, me personally, I’ve been kinda hijacking the DJ sessions, but I was playing a lot of like old soul music, and a lot of like, ‘80s punk, and like contemporary rap.

TD: And what was the French synthwave? Coldwave?

DP: Oh! Yeah, that compilation called BIPPP, it’s like the greatest compilation of all time, it’s like French synthwave, it’s amazing.

LH: I need to look that up.

JDS: It’s the ultimate Halloween playlist too, if you’re feeling the Halloween vibe.

TD: We can’t be talking about radio plays or Spotify plays in the van if we’re not talking about Lindsey Buckingham though.

JDS: Every single night.

DP: Lindsey Buckingham, “Don’t Look Down”. That’s the tour song. We have a different tour song every tour we go on and that’s the one for this tour.

JDS: It happened instantly, it was the first song we played.

TD: It just came together.

LH: If you had to be in a different band, dead or alive, which one would you be in?

TD: Coldplay. Done.

DP: I’d be in Dead or Alive.

JDS: I’d be second chair bassist for Kevin Krauter.

DP: Wait, does that mean I can change who I am as a person too, like can I be Britney Spears, like is that a band?

TD: You can be in her band.

LH: I don’t think you can replace Britney Spears.

DP: I just have to play in the band?

LH: I clearly didn’t think through the details of this question thoroughly enough.

DP: I would play in Roy Orbison’s band, that’d be pretty awesome.

TD: That’d be pretty awesome. Maybe stressful.

DP: I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like a diva though, he seems like pretty awesome.

TD: Maybe like David Guetta’s CDJ.

JDS: I’d be Neil Peart’s roto-toms. I just wanna be like, slapped.

TD: (gong noises)

DP: Anton, what about you?

TD: Beach Fossils.

Anton Hochheim: Wait, we’re not becoming the person?

TD: You could be like an inanimate object in a band or you could be in a band.

AH: I was gonna say Usher if I could be him.

DP: His dance moves! Holy s***.

TD: Usher’s sneakers.

DP: I have a little theory, this is a slight tangent, but I have a little theory about the Usher music video “You Remind Me”. I love that music video, one of my favorite videos, and songs, of all time, but I think… this might offend Usher, if he heard it, but I think that dancing scene where he’s a silhouette? It might be a stunt double. (others gasp)

JDS: What makes you say that?

DP: Because the moves, I know he’s a great dancer, but for that scene, they do a lot of like, cutaway shots from far away where it’s just a silhouette, and it’s some crazy moves that I’ve never seen him do before, and I think that it might be… It’s like when you’re watching Terminator 2 and you see, like, for like a second, you’re like, ‘that’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger!’ I think he did the dance, but they probably got a stunt double in there just to do some of like the crazy moves. Usher might get mad if he heard me say it though.

TD: Which is not to say that he couldn’t do it.

JDS: We’re challenging you, Usher.

LH: I will send this directly to Usher. I’m going to email it to him.

TD: Coulda been a sick day, that’s all I’m saying. Like he could be capable, he just wasn’t capable at that moment.

DP: I don’t know, honestly he’s still really f***ing ripped though, so it probably was him.

LH: Conspiracy theories… Do you guys have a ritual for songwriting?

JDS: Maybe an unwritten one.

DP: Not really, we just get together, and just let loose. I think that our ritual is not having a ritual.

JDS: It’s more of a routine.

DP: Cause that’s kind of the tour thing too, like, I think a lot of bands have rituals and it’s important to them, but like, we’ve never had that, and I think that’s just a part of this band in general. I don’t do vocal warmups, I don’t do any—I guess the only ritual in this band before a show would be drinking. (laughs)

JDS: Yeah, like our rituals are just our unprofessionalism.

TD: I will say once I ran a ritual, not a ritual per se, but it’s a habit that forms, is when me and Jack make a really demented jam, and Dustin hates it, we just loop that for a couple hours.

DP: They go for so long.

TD: Then he drinks the Kool-Aid eventually, where he has to join the jam, and then before you know it, we’re all like going crazy.

DP: There’s only so many times you can hear something before you just have to love it.

JDS: Yeah that’s true, that happened on Somersault.

LH: I think that can go both ways.

TD: Yeah, a few things on Somersault ran that way also.

LH: Are there any songs in particular that have a story behind them?

JDS: Yeah, I mean that one in particular was on Saint Ivy.

DP: The outro section on Saint Ivy—

JDS: Dustin was taking a nap, and you’d just been bitten by a tic.

DP: I had a tic in my sack. It was really scary, it looked like body horror.

JDS: Tommy and I just stayed up all night too.

TD: We were in a cabin, we all had cabin fever like two weeks into it, like the Shining Jack Nicholson, we were like going crazy, naturally me and Jack—

JDS: You had some riff on the piano, and you were jokingly doing some fake Paul McCartney lyrics over it.

DP: I actually wanted to put those lyrics on the record, and they were like, no.

JDS & TD (singing): Keeps on mooovin…

TD: Yeah so he was napping upstairs, we started jamming in the main room, he comes down the stairs, ‘Guys!! Stop f***ing playing that song!!’ And then the 70th time, he joined on the drums.

JDS: Yeah, then he sat down on the drums and he was like ‘Wait, this is sick!’

DP: Well it’s one of those things, like, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. But then we kept playing, like every time, one part would go slower, so it would take like a full minute to get through it, and then the next part we’d go so fast we’d do it in like three seconds.

(several people talking at once)

DP: This isn’t going to make sense to anyone who wasn’t there.

TD: There you have it Cambridge. We tried.

LH: Let’s see… if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

DP: Murdering people.

LH: Good answer. You came up with that way too fast, also.

DP: It’s true! I’ve thought about it.

LH: This tape is going to go into evidence.

JDS: Do I even… do I like music? Like if I’m not a musician?

DP: If I wasn’t a musician professionally, I would still be an amateur musician, and I’d probably still play shows as much as I do now, but I would just have a job. And I’d be murdering people.

TD: Well I went to school for engineering, so I’d probably find myself in a cubicle.

DP: Yeah, we roped him out of school.

JDS: Yeah, it’s hard to say.

DP (seductively): Jack would be a sexy little model boy.

JDS: I would not. I would actively not do that.

DP: Jack would be like a party man, like a party host.

JDS: I think I’d wanna be, like, on a film set for sure. If I wasn’t doing music I’d definitely be doing film.

DP: Well actually, we also talked about this last night, like we wanna start our own haunted house. So we might just quit making music to start a haunted house.

LH: Well you can just be like, Santa Claus of Halloween. Like just during the month of October, your whole life is the haunted house. And the rest of the time you can do your own thing.

DP: Well I’d like to bring the haunted house on tour.

LH: See, you describing it has given me FOMO enough that I need to experience this myself.

JDS: Well we wish that an interviewer or someone was there to go through it.

DP: Oh my God, if you were there yesterday, we could’ve put you through the haunted house.

TD: You would have loved it.

DP: To put someone through it that wasn’t part of like, the touring circle, that would’ve really been something.

TD: For the record, you’ve given me a good idea—it’s now copywritten, because now it’s on record—a Nightmare Before Christmas haunted house. A Santa Claus haunted house.

DP: You can’t own the copyright to that because someone already owns the copyright!

TD: Has there not been a haunted Santa Claus—like, Christmas haunted house?

DP: I don’t like that crossover. I hate horror movies that are Christmas themed. Because Christmas, to me, is pure. Don’t f*** with it.

TD: I like Nightmare Before Christmas.

DP: I like Nightmare Before Christmas but I don’t like a scary movie where it’s like, Santa is murdering people, cause Santa is pure. Don’t f*** with Santa like that.

JDS: The Killer Snowman movies are amazing though.

DP: Wait, what’s that movie Jack Frost? It’s not a horror movie but the one for kids? Henry Rollins is in that movie, Henry Rollins plays the gym teacher, he’s like, really agro, he’s perfect for the part… I don’t know how much of this is gonna be usable.

LH: No, honestly, I’m just gonna like, post it, uncut. As a fan myself, if I’m interested in a band, I like to hear them chatting about stuff rather than just like a stilted…

DP: We have a lot of passions.

LH: Yeah, no, it’s fun to hear you guys talk about other stuff than just the music.

TD: Speaking of which, I gotta go back to the Christmas thing.

LH: It’s important.

TD: Would you argue that the majesty, and like the charm and the quaintness of Christmas is the perfect backdrop to have a murderous scene?

DP: You know, the TV show Tales From the Crypt from the ‘90s, they did an episode that was a Santa one, with like a strange Santa killing people, and it is really good, but that’s the thing, like—that’s the one crossover I don’t need in my life.

JDS: You can keep those separated and still be satisfied, like, you don’t need Christmas to be scary.

LH: Also it’s slightly overdone.

JDS: It’s a little cliché. Like it’s such an easy idea. Like, can we take the most joyous night and make it scary?

TD: Don’t worry, I gotcha: Die Hard, phenomenal, pinnacle action movie, Christmas, exposure, vulnerability, most wonderful time of the year in the background, perfect marriage of violence and charm.

DP: No yeah, I think that’s a good contrast, with an action movie it’s fine. I just don’t need it to be horror. You can give me some action Christmas, I’m down.

JDS: Well you know what that is, is Jingle All the Way. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the most action packed Christmas movie, and I love it.

DP: It’s so bad that it’s good.

JDS: Yeah, it’s one of the best Christmas movies.

TD: I recommend all your listeners to watch Jingle All the Way right now, as soon as possible.

JDS: Anakin Skywalker from episode 1 is in it.

TD: Yeah you’re right. I think his name is Henry? But we digress.

LH: Yes. Finally, Halloween is occurring in precisely three days. What was your best Halloween costume that you’ve done?

JDS: Last year was cool…

LH: What was last year? You can’t just say that and then not say what it was.

JDS: I’m just reflecting.

TD: I’ll go for mine. This was one of my favorite moments, cause of simplicity, you have to get a little more involved, it takes a little more acting chops, but simplicity in all budgets is great, I did a TedTalk speaker. I got like the zip-up, the LL Bean sweater, dad jeans, “Ted”, a little placard, and I had a ponytail ripped back real hard.

DP: It was really good.

JDS: And he was selling it!

TD: Yeah, I kind of hammed that up.

DP: I have some costume ideas that I haven’t done that I really like that maybe I could share, like, I really wanna be that photo of Kevin Smith where he’s like, washing his windshield, and he’s got really huge JNCOs on. There’s also one where he’s on the red carpet and he’s got like a peacoat with like massive JNCO shorts that literally go all the way down to his ankles. I kinda wanna be that.

TD: We’ll show you for reference because it’s really obscene.

DP: I also really wanna be the Shock Top logo.

JDS: Mohawked fruit?

DP: Maybe I could be Kevin Smith as the Shock Top logo, so I’d have the JNCO shorts and the Shock Top hair.

LH: Well maybe like, in the logo, you don’t see his pants, but he is wearing JNCOs.

TD: And then—wait, your brother’s is actually amazing this year.

AH: Yeah, my brother is a foot. There’s like, hair on the toes and everything.

LH: I’m having trouble imagining exactly what you mean by this.

AH: Just picture a giant foot and his face in the palm.

DP: Oh, here it is! This is the Kevin Smith picture that I wanted to be where he’s washing his window with the huge shorts. Yeah, that’d be kinda fun.

LH: It’s beautiful.

TD: Tasteful.

LH: Can you even buy JNCOs like that?

DP: Oh yeah, you can still find them. Well the red carpet one—google ‘Kevin Smith red carpet’, that one’s f***ing epic.

TD: It’s iconic.

DP: We’re talking about stuff that people can’t see.

LH: I know, I should have had someone actually film it, but it’s fine. Well, we’ll wrap it up here. This has been Beach Fossils at Paradise Rock Club on October 28, 2018. I’m Luca Hinrichs with WHRB. Thank you very much.

Luca is a DJ for The Record Hospital. The Record Hospital airs Monday through Friday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.