For many young musicians, "jamming" is one of the worst things a band can do. When I spoke to Nucular Aminals a few weeks back about their music-writing process, bassist Jheremy Grigsby was adamant on this point. "We. Don't. Jam. We may do it for a little bit, but only as a joke.â
The Aminals' comrades in Blood Beach, on the other hand, couldn't conceive of writing music without it.
"I think bands like Phish or the String Cheese Incident have turned 'jamming' into a dirty word," says Blood Beach bass player Ethan Jayne in between bites of a chicken-strip basket at the Florida Room. "We don't jam. We write our songs. But there's something to be said for locking in with your friends as you're jamming on a riff or an idea."
Drummer Cody Seals picks up on this thread, "You jam so you can write the song." Singer/guitarist Shayne Wright continues, "At our first show, people were calling us a 'jam band' and I didn't know what to think of that because it's such a negative thing. You just picture dudes doing some shitty noodling."
Listening to the band's new Stankhouse Records-released EP, Return of the Curse of the Creature's Ghost, you can hardly accuse it of being noodly. There is a psychedelic tinge on offer—a trait often associated with the kinds of jam bands Jayne mentioned—but it is plopped roughly in the middle of an excitable garage-pop racket. And then the formula gets weird: All of this noise punctuated by the squeals and honks of Camella Weedon's convincing theremin and sax playing, two instruments that give the songs a sinister U.K. punk edge.
As you might anticipate from a band that took its name from a 1980 cult horror flick, there's also a creepy side to Blood Beach's music (check out the haunting theremin wails and dire guitar lines on "Go Forth On Vacation"). Jayne fills many of the songs with themes that read like they should be matched up with furious death metal instead of the band's short, unshackled punk. But the dark themes are tempered with a distinct sense of humor, thanks in part to Jayne's adorably nasal vocals, which add an unintentional irony to lyrics like "The sarcophagus finds its way to Mars/ Shattering the portal to ancient stars." The new EP takes its title from a particularly goofy skit from Mr. Show With Bob & David, and one of the best songs on it, "2: Adam (Heart): Mother," is a pun on the name of a Pink Floyd record.
"That came to me when I was looking through Shayne's records and just goofing on the titles," remembers Jayne, laughing. Wright leans forward and interjects, "The lyrics came right out of that. It's all about a mom writing a really mean letter to her kid." (Sample lyric: "If only I had known about abortion/ Before I knew the afterbirth/ Oh, and how's your wife?")
Jam as they do, the members of Blood Beach say that much of their songwriting is also informed simply by what they're listening to obsessively at the time. Jayne and Wright met while working together at the downtown Everyday Music, where they are always grabbing new records to geek out over. (The rest of the band connected in Denton, Texas, before collectively moving to our fair city three years ago.)
"All of us are music nerds," says Jayne. "Camella and I were talking today about all these records she likes that she can't pronounce because they're all Brazilian, Greek and Italian psych compilations." Some of that influence does pop up on Return of the Curse, as does the swaggering, noir-ish sound of the previous infatuations with the Cramps and Gun Club.
What does that mean for future Blood Beach recordings? "We've been listening to a lot of metal," says Jayne, eliciting knowing laughs from his bandmates. "I think that's the only way to be a cool band when you're older is to be a metal band. Three albums from now, we'll be droning and chugging away. You heard it here first!â
SEE IT: Blood Beach releases Return of the Curse of the Creature's Ghost on Saturday, July 30, at East End. 9 pm. Free. 21+.