There are tons of bands that have the word ‘beach’ in their names. The Beach Boys, Beach House, Beach Slang, Menace Beach… And there’s Beach Fossils. Frontman Dustin Payseur chose the name sort of randomly, and now he regrets it a bit, but the fans definitely aren’t bothered by it, especially as long as the band keeps on making great music.
Born in North Carolina in 1986, Dustin Payseur came from a musical family. His grandfather played Cuban music, and his young parents had an impeccable taste in music, plus both of them played in bands. They always encouraged him to be creative, and by the time Dustin started high school, he was already playing in nu metal bands – a genre that was popular at the turn of the millenium, and thankfully, not for a very long time. He soon grew out of it too and developed an interest in 1980’s American punk music. He was a member in several local bands, but in 2008 he left North Carolina, and moved to the city he always wanted to live in: New York.
In the Big Apple, he first played music on his own, and originally he started Beach Fossils as a kind of bedroom solo project. He later expanded it into a full band, with John Pena on bass, and Sennott Burke on guitar. Around this time (ca. 2009), Payseur received an email from cult indie label Captured Tracks, which said that “we want to put out your record” – no wonder Dustin celebrated by drinking two bottles of champagne and swimming in a cold lake. The first release was the single daydream in February 2010, followed by the eponymous debut album three months later. Critics praised the songs and as they couldn’t really pigeonhole the band, they simply named different genres as hazy reference points: dream pop, shoegaze, indie rock, lo-fi and jangle pop a la Byrds.
Unfortunately Burke left the band in 2010, followed by Cole Smith, who formed his highly acclaimed own project DIIV instead. 2011 also saw the departure of Pena (he wanted to focus on his other band Heavenly Beat) and the release of the EP What A Pleasure. Payseur retreated to write the second album which took him about a year. He first recorded the songs as demos in his bedroom, then, for the first time in his career, he went to a proper studio with the new line-up which included Tommy Davidson, Jack Doyle Smith and Tommy Gardner. Production duties were handled by Ben Greenberg, former bass player for New York punk outfit The Men. The album came out under the title Clash The Truth and was less well received than the debut, with the reviewer of Uncut going as far as saying that “Payseur sings in a forgot-my-gym-kit voice”. The album wasn’t bad, though, but everyone knew that Beach Fossils are capable of better material.
The band took an extended break after the Clash The Truth tour ended, and emerged in 2016 in an episode on the HBO TV series Vinyl. They played members of a fictional 70’s punk group called The Nasty Bits, and were fronted by Mick Jagger’s son. In the meantime, Payseur was battling depression, and it took him again quite a while to write the songs for the third longplayer. This time, though, the other members of the contributed ideas as well.
Inspired by jazz and Morricone soundtracks, the aptly-titled brave album Somersault was released this June, to rave reviews. It came out on Bayonet Records, Payseur’s very own label, which he started with his wife Kate Garcia. The songs were recorded partly in New York, partly in Los Angeles, where the band worked with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado. He wasn’t the only prominent name in the liner notes: one song features rapper Cities Aviv, and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell lends her vocals to another track. By the time the album was released, Gardner had already left the band (he moved to China), which means that Beach Fossils are a trio now, but even with this new line-up, the A38 concert is one of the most anticipated gigs for us this year.