Beaches are a band of five Melbourne ladies whom it’s safe to assume are not so covert fans of Bette Midler and Cher.
“Oh I dug that film in primary school!” laughs guitarist/vocalist Ali McCann. “It’s kind of funny and kind of fitting ’cause it’s this ultimate chick flick female bonding film of the ’80s,” and considering the gals of the band are such good friends onstage and off, “it’s just fortuitous that we named our band after the film; serendipitous.”
They released their second album She Beats earlier this year, after spending the years since their 2008 debut touring and taking some time out. McCann says it’s important for them to, “just do it and to not – here I am saying ‘over think it’ when our second album took a long time to make – but just to do it and not take it too seriously either.”
Their influences range from psych-rock/shoegaze genre stalwarts My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and The Stone Roses to girl groups The Luv’d Ones and The Shangri-La’s. But it’s collaboration and the local music scene that’s most inspiring for the band.
“I think something that drives us as well is just that there’s so much great music happening at the moment. I’m thinking specifically, I guess, in Sydney and Melbourne… Most of the records that I’ve been buying lately have been by local bands, friends’ bands that I know.”
The genesis of Beaches was the same as many other grand ideas. After running into each other at various gigs for their other projects, the girls, “had quite a bit to drink, a big night and so thought we’d have a jam.” Shortly after that first drunken show they got together in guitarist Toni’s “hot box of a bungalow” and bashed out some tracks.
“That first jam we had was really awesome because two of the songs that were on the first album were written in that session,” McCann laughs. “They sounded completely ramshackle and crazy…but we’d just jam for four or five hours. It was heaps of fun.”
And how is it they can keep playing together after so many years? “I guess part of it is that we’re mates and, you know, we sort of check ourselves when things get a bit too heavy or serious, ‘cause it is possible to create sort of serious music but not take yourselves too seriously and [still] enjoy it and have some fun in the process.”
When the band gets together to write and record, the process is quite organic. “Someone will bring a bass line or basic chord progression and we’ll just slowly build stuff up around it.”
Outside collaboration is also a vital element of the recording process itself. “That’s the beauty of it, being able to bring in other people to build sonic textures that you couldn’t otherwise do playing live”.
With three guitars and five vocalists, the girls already make quite a wall of sound. “We’ve got different guitars, different amps, different pedals and we’re playing different ways…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s too much.”
It can be tough to make time for the band when everyone is working on other projects, but for Beaches it’s vital to prioritise.
“Everyone works a lot and is doing other things [Love Of Diagrams, Panel Of Judges, Spider Vomit] so it is hard to juggle everything, but we just have to make time to do it. I think that I can speak for everyone on this – it’s just a pretty inspiring time to be making music.”
BY NATALIE AMAT
Beaches play Carriageworks on Saturday July 20 as part of At First Sight festival. ‘She Beats’ is out now through Chapter Music.