Surf-rock trio Beach Sex catching waves of attention

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Surf-rock trio Beach Sex released their debut self-titled EP on Aug. 24. (photo by Spencer KM Brown)

The crowd sidled in along the rows of retro video games. A dim glow of lights flooded the bar and the small audience pushed to the front as the night’s headliners, Beach Sex, laid into their set. With a solid groove behind the tightly crafted melodies and unique vocals, the trio appeared to be proven professionals — years of touring and shows under their belts, a dedicated fan-base — and yet, the show at Monstercade in Winston-Salem on Aug. marked the band’s first EP release.

Based in Charleston, SC, Beach Sex came about as a means to stir up the music scene in their hometown.

“Ryan [Alexander] had several songs already written,” drummer DJ Edwards said. “He and I were kinda trapped in this house in Charleston during the hurricane last year. We had nowhere to go and so we just started working all of these songs out.”

With initial ideas beginning to flow, the band brought in bass player Avery Greeson to tie off the roster.

“I really just wanted to be in a surf-rock band,” guitarist and vocalist Ryan Alexander said. “The music scene in Charleston is really just one direction. It’s all just the same thing. I wanted to start something that would shake it up. Something that people would come out and dance to.”

Alexander’s vocals call to mind such prominent bands as Weezer, Pinback and Wavves, with tight basslines holding down the songs and drums that the break and flow like a swelling tide. Although the project began as a means to have fun and fill in the hours between playing in other bands, the trio began to gain some traction in their first few performances.

“We wore masks for the first two tours we did,” Alexander said. “It was a little gimmicky, but we wanted people to come out for the music, not for any of us individually. We wanted to get rid of our personal reputations we had [and] have people listen to the music. We want them to just come out and dance and have a good time, not thinking about who these guys are.”

To listen to Beach Sex’s new EP, visit them at facebook.com/beachsexchs

After two successful short-run tours, the band went to acclaimed Greensboro studio Legitimate Business to record their debut self-titled EP.

“I’d known Kris [Hilbert] for years just through the music scene,” Alexander said. “And he recently put out two records I really love, Zack Mexico’s Get Rich and Live Forever, and Gillian Carter’s new 7-inch single. I just thought, ‘If [Kris] can get these two such amazing and yet different sounds, we have to work with him.’”

Though it’s only four songs long, the record features prominent guitar sounds that rest in the sweet spot between a crunching distortion like Nirvana and that iconic crisp, clean-cut tone of the Beach Boys.

The band’s influences come through clearly on the record, as well as their live performance, even slipping a solid cover of the Strokes in their set. But though the scaffolding of their musical heroes can still be seen, it’s obvious Beach Sex is quickly developing a sound all its own. With an on-stage fluidity that takes some bands decades to develop, the trio appears so natural facing the crowd, allowing them to take risks and push the envelope with their sound that more timid bands might not have the courage to risk.

“It’s one of those things that you always kind of hope for,” Greeson said. “We all just click so well together, we pick up on the little things each other are doing. When we first started playing, we were practicing like 15 to 20 hours a week. We just loved it. I think that’s what makes the difference.”

After losing the masks at their show at the Royal American in Charleston, the band is now fueling its growing popularity with music videos, 3D liner notes to their record and much more on the way, band members said.

Beach Sex ended its set at Monstercade with a track off their new record, to what had become a nearly full room. With a blistering, raw sound from Alexander’s amps and the pulsing drums, the crowd pushed inside to catch the moments of the set. There is a raw originality to their sound, one that brings the music back to the marrow and takes off in a youthful fit of energy. And with less than a year of playing and touring underway, there is only growth in the future of this band.