Given indie rock's recent obsession with all things beach-related, South Florida trio Beach Day might seem like uninspired Johnnies- and Janies-come-lately. But Kimmy Drake, Nat Smallish and Skyler Black have a lot of real-deal authenticity going for them. They actually live together near the beach in Hollywood (or "Hollyweird," as they call it), immediately out-performing 99 percent of their mostly Brooklyn-based contemporaries. They draw a direct line between themselves and Florida's garage-rock pioneers, exhibiting an embrace of history not long on the
21st-century hipster set.
Most important, Beach Day's music is legit: Drake's powerful vocals shake with grown-up resonance and shimmer with girlish vulnerability; all three members' instrumental arrangements are equal parts sharp and shaggy; and the band's upcoming debut album, "Trip Trap Express," rumbles and rocks with a raw, restlessly infectious sound that's part '60s girl-group pop, part '70s punk, and part 2000s psychedelia revival.
Folio Weekly: Give us the backstory on your upcoming album, "Trip Trap Express," which comes out on June 18.
Kimmy Drake: We recorded at a studio called The Dungeon in Miami with our friend Ryan Haft, and then had the whole thing mixed by Jim Diamond in Detroit. Most notably, he did the first two White Stripes records, and he was amazing. We're hopefully going to do everything — recording and mixing — with Jim next time.
F.W.: Your vocals are so powerful. Do you wield that power during the songwriting process?
K.D.: I mostly write the melodies and lyrics, but sometimes we'll write from Skyler's drumbeats — he starts playing, and I lay some guitar riffs over it. We've written a couple of songs like that. But for the most part, I write the melody and guitar, then bring it in so we can arrange it all together.
F.W.: How did you, Skyler and Nat come together to form Beach Day?
K.D.: We were in three separate bands, but all of our bands were playing on the same night, and when we met, the stars aligned. That's the way I look at it. We found each other and left all of our other bands to start this one.
F.W.: Were any of you consciously trying to get away from those previous bands to start playing surf rock and '60s girl-group pop?
K.D.: We weren't trying to do that, but that's the kind of music I've loved for the majority of my life, so when I found out that Skyler was totally into surf drums, I thought, "Wow, this could be really awesome!" Then it just … organically happened. The first song we wrote was "Beach Day," and we named the band after it. It was completely unplanned in any way, shape, fashion or form.
F.W.: Do you think the expanding South Florida indie-rock scene inspired Beach Day?
K.D.: The scene has really grown. It hasn't exploded, but I think it can at some point. Look at Jacuzzi Boys from Miami. There are a ton of great garage bands from Florida and always have been, going all the way back to the '60s. It's actually kind of a tradition, and I feel like we're just carrying on that tradition in a way.
F.W.: None of those bands lucked into a record deal like Beach Day did, however. Tell us how that happened.
K.D.: We just sent Kanine Records an email with a link to stream a couple of our songs, even though on their website it says, "Don't send anything. We don't want it!" But I was like, "Let's just do it anyway — whatever." We did, and we actually got a response back from Lio [Kanine], the owner, about an hour later with 20 questions for us. We were, like, "Oh my God, awesome!"
F.W.: So is Beach Day paying the bills now? I understand all three of you used to work together at a Smoothie Palace.
K.D.: We're gone so much that Beach Day has to be full-time. But we do still work at the Smoothie Palace when we go home. We try to pick up shifts whenever we can.
F.W.: Do you feel like you're changing the perception that most people have of Hollywood and South Florida in general?
K.D.: We're just the new generation coming up here. It's not all retirement communities in Hollywood, and we exist to bother them.
F.W.: How big do you, Nat and Skyler hope the band becomes?
K.D.: Personally, my life motto is, "If it's not fun, it's not worth it." Which is sometimes not good. [Laughs.] But that's how I like to live my life. So what ever happens, I just want to always have fun and go on adventures wherever we end up. o