Band of the Day

2011.10.28

Beach Fossils

A nostalgic kaleidoscope of dreamy, atmospheric sounds
I think I lose myself the second that I see I'm found.
lyrics from Daydream

Beach Fossils are an indie pop band from Brooklyn, New York that cover a wide spectrum of styles such as noise pop, surf rock, garage rock and shoegaze. The group consists of Dustin Payseur (vocals, guitar), John Pena (bass), Zachary Cole Smith (guitar) and Tommy Gardener (drums). Front man Dustin Payseur began writing and recording songs in his Brooklyn apartment in Fall 2009. Taking inspiration from his former state of North Carolina, with its lush open landscapes, he used music as a means to reconnect with himself. Experimenting with layering multiple instruments on a Tascam four-track recorder, Payseur felt free to experiment fusing his favorite genres together into a new sound. Currently signed to the Captured Tracks label, Beach Fossils released a self-titled LP in 2010, and followed up with an EP entitled What a Pleasure in 2011.

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“Ooh...Pain Olympics: Final Round!” exclaims John Peña, bassist for Beach Fossils. The band is hanging out backstage before their performance at Slim's in San Francisco, and are debating about their favorite viral videos. Currently it's a toss-up between the highly explicit “BME Pain Olympics: Final Round”—and the subsequent reaction videos on YouTube—or the octopus trained to open a jar. Guitarist Cole Smith explains, “Yeah, you put a treat in a jar, and then you close it, and it figures out how to open it! Octopuses, they're like geniuses. That would be my spirit animal...if I was a genius [laughs]!” Beach Fossils are on the tail end of a cross-country US tour—a tour in which some of their younger fans couldn't attend, because of strict 21+ policies at concert venues.

Band of the Day: Question: A lot of your shows on this tour are 21 plus. Did you guys used to sneak into concerts when you were younger?

Dustin Payseur (lead singer): I used to play shows all the time when I was a teenager, and I wasn't supposed to drink, and I would just go in and get sh*tfaced and could hardly play. You know, it's just what you do.

Cole Smith (guitarist): At this place called the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, Massachusetts, where I lived before I was 21, there was this garbage can and a shed out back. It was an unspoken thing for kids to climb up, unlock the window, and get into the backstage area. But you'd have to, like, get out and into the crowd before security noticed you. I got caught so many times being backstage, and they'd get so aggro at the kids who'd do that!

John Peña (bassist): I'd be happy if a teenager came backstage and was being all sneaky!

Dustin: Yeah, I would think it was cool!

John: The first time I got caught I was at a Ted Leo show, and a bouncer walked by so I was trying to act all casual, but he was like, “What the f**k are you doing back here?!” And he dragged me by the collar through the whole crowd...it was awesome [laughs]!

Band of the Day: What was the last song stuck in your head?

Dustin: Ooh, what was it? Oh yeah, “Private Eyes” [by Hall and Oates]! Also a Craft Spells song because we just heard them soundcheck.

Cole: I actually have a Beach Fossils song in my head, because we just soundchecked.

John: Yeah, me too. I also have “Your Tomb” by Craft Spells constantly stuck in my head. It's such a catchy song!

Dustin: Yeah, is it a single yet?

John: I dunno, but it should be!

Tommy Gardner (drummer): I have the chorus to “Roll Up” by Wiz Khalifa stuck in my head.

Band of the Day: What is the last song you want to hear before you die?

Cole: Every song EVER!

John: “311 Sucks” by Anal C*nt [all laugh]!

Dustin: Yes!

Band of the Day: What have been some highlights of this tour so far?

Dustin: We played a show in Tucson with only like 15 people in the audience, but there was karaoke after. I sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and people were moshing, and then Cole crowd-surfed!

Cole: With four people!

Tommy: Yeah, they were carrying him around the room!

Dustin: There was a guy who did a 12 minute Meatloaf song, and he did the whole f**king thing!

Band of the Day: Is that why there were only 15 people there?

John: There were more people for karaoke than for the concert!

Cole: They had a huge net to keep kids who weren't 21 out. There was literally this huge net, like a fish net, not even like a cage. I'd rather be behind a cage, than a net. A net makes you feel like a dolphin!

John: I'd rather feel like a dolphin than a monkey.

Band of the Day: But monkeys are pretty badass...

John: Yeah, but you can swim if you're a dolphin. And they're the only animals that have sex for pleasure! And they can also plot revenge, and kill for fun.

Band of the Day: Ok, so dolphins aside, what keeps you guys going with music?

Dustin: The fact that I can't ever have a normal job. I've been fired from every job.

John: Because of his tattoos!

Dustin: No, not because of tattoos!

John: I think music is the only thing Dustin's good at. Anything else is a lost cause.

Dustin: We don't have anything else to fall back on, so we have to do it.

Cole: And this is the only time when you can really do anything like it.

Dustin: It's the only thing I care about that would ever make me money. And I never thought it would make me money, but I still care about it the same way. But it's just that now I can pay my rent with it!

Band of the Day: How do your families and friends feel about your career paths?

Dustin: My family are like the biggest superfans—they send me emails every day!

Cole: My mom's supportive, my dad's not. John's parents are pretty supportive, and come to shows.

John: Your dad came to a show!

Cole: My dad came to a show, but I think he probably left before we played. He showed up to our LA show. He emailed me the day of the show and was like, “Hey do you have any contact info for Craft Spells? I'm going to see them tonight” and I was like, “I'm playing a show with them!”

Band of the Day: What is your proudest moment as a band so far? Most surreal?

Dustin: The fact that we sold out the Music Hall in Williamsburg [in Brooklyn], and I thought that no one was going to come! And then the same thing happened when we played the Echo [in Los Angeles]—they had to move it to the Echoplex!

Cole: I think the most surreal moments are just when we're doing something random like drinking carrot juice and vodka in a parking lot in Indiana, about to go on, and then we're like, “Wait...this is our job!”

John: We could go onstage and either play or not. Whatever happens, it's up to us—it's our job.

Dustin: And also just sometimes getting stopped on the street by someone saying, “Hey, aren't you that guy in Beach Fossils?”

Band of the Day: When asked what's next for Beach Fossils, the answers ranged from buying a house, to owning a dog, to teaching. However, there was one ultimate goal that had a unanimous consensus: to play music, plain and simple.