If James Alex ever gave up the day job, you suspect he could make a decent living as a motivational life coach. Barely a minute of conversation with the Beach Slang singer and guitarist goes by without him offering up a quotable nugget of existential advice: “A life without regrets is not a life well lived”; “There’s an infinite amount of reasons to be happy to exist”; “Never retire from being alive!” They’re the sort of aphorisms you might see pinned up on an office noticeboard accompanied by dodgy clipart. Alex, though, really means this stuff, and he delivers it with such wide-eyed enthusiasm that, after an hour in his company, you’re ready to believe it too.
Sadly for the lifestyle guru industry, Alex has chosen to use his powers of persuasion in the pursuit of punk rock, something he believes in with evangelical ardour. “Rock’n’roll to me is holy. I want to honour it properly,” he proclaims. Beach Slang are certainly living up to that aim. On record the Philadelphia band are making some of the most giddy guitar music of the moment, accompanied by live shows that are rarely less than a riot.
Perhaps Alex’s zeal for punk rock is down to being afforded a second chance at practising it. He spent his 20s in a “sloppy three-chord punk band” called Weston but then gave up on the idea of making music for a living, went to art school and found a job in graphic design. The bug never left him, though. He spent his free time working on new music, which he’d perform at open mics. When he played his songs to drummer JP Flexner, he in turn recruited bassist Ed McNulty and guitarist Ruben Gallego, and Beach Slang was born.