In the backroom of the Paradise, Dustin sat with his stratocaster, mindlessly playing riffs and relaxing before the show. Tonight’s performance will be the start of their 2020 North America tour and Dustin prepares by jamming on guitar and drinking a beer. Almost defying the day one of tour attitude, him and guitarist Tommy Davidson who briefly stops by are both relaxed before the gig.
Voices can be heard outside the door as the crowd of people pour into the club. Just like last years Boston show, indie teens and older rocker guys fill up the audience. Half of both of these groups will be moshing, while the others will wade back and forth in a dreamy haze. Somehow, the band’s pre-show vibes sit directly down the middle of these two groups.
I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Dustin about the tour, the band’ history, the recording process, their early shows in Boston’s DIY scene and random other questions I as a fan had to know. Below is the full transcription of the interview:
Rob: To start off, what’s your favorite type of fossil?
Dustin: Uhhhhhhh – I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t think I have an answer for that to be honest.
Rob: How do you feel about being back on tour, back at the paradise?
Dustin: It’s sick, I love it here. I love Boston, I love playing in Boston. It’s a good place. There’s Tommy Davidson.
*Tommy Davidson enters the room at this point and begins eating a large bag of cold cuts. Evidently his method of preparing for a performance is different and I applaud him for that.*
Dustin: Every time we play here it’s always great. It’s always a very wild and good time.
Rob: How often did you play in Boston at the beginning of your band?
Dustin: We used to come up here a lot. Kind of in the early days we’d come here and do DIY shows, so we would be playing more like house parties and basement parties and stuff. Since it was so close to New York we were able to just come up here and do it a bunch. I feel like it was kind of one of the first places outside of NY that we started playing a good amount of shows in. Just from knowing other people in bands up here and setting up shows, you know. The house party vibe was really strong back then.
Rob: How different would you say your set list is this time compared to when you played here last year?
Dustin: We try to switch up the set list a little bit for every tour, so we’re not repeating the same thing. There might be some surprises in there tonight, I’m not sure yet. It depends. We try to throw some curve balls in there.
Click to see “Some curve balls”
Rob: How do you feel the band has changed since it started?
Dustin: Its changed a lot. I mean, it’s still changing. It’s constantly changing. The line up has changed a million times, the way I write and record has changed a lot, the way I approach making music has changed, the way I approach playing music and even thinking about music has kind of changed. I feel like I look at things a lot [differently], there’s a lot of things I hold on to that are the same and there are a lot of things I’ve sort of grown and learned from…That’s a long time and you change as a person. I’m a completely different person than I was even back then, which I guess you should be a different person than you were ten years ago.
Rob: How involved are you guys in the recording/mixing process?
Dustin: Yeah I do everything. For me, the studio is another instrument, so we have our own studio. I produce the records, I produce all the stuff I’ve recorded. I always mix it myself as much as I can and then we bring it into a studio and work with one of our friends to do like final final mixes. But even there, he’s an engineer and I’m just kind of directing it cause I’m so hands on and obsessed with every step of the recording and writing process that I just have to be very hyper aware of every single second on the record, you know?
Rob: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of bands will be affected by who mixes their work but the person mixing Beach Fossils sounds like Beach Fossils. Since we’re talking about the beginning and how you started, how do you feel specifically your sound has changed since the beginning?
Dustin: I think what I’m listening to is always changing and as someone who is working on music, I never want to make the same thing again and again because kind of what’s the point? I could, if I wanted to I could put out a few albums a year that sound like the old stuff. I could just keep doing that over and over, but the reason I take a long time between records is because I’m purposefully working on an idea that’s a new sound and that is different from the last record. It’s funny because every time we put out a new record, people are like, “this doesn’t sound like the last one.” I feel like by now they should realize that that’s what we do. You know, it’s still Beach Fossils, we’re still generally working with the same sonic textures and the same instruments and the same ideas, it’s not really that crazy, but you know it’s funny when you’re experimenting with different styles, the way some people react. But you know fuck them, if they don’t get it they don’t get it, but I feel like a lot of people that understand that that’s what it is and that’s what it’s about; they’re the ones, that I don’t know, whatever, they get it.
Rob: Did you expect the song Clash The Truth to became an anthem of sorts for your fans?
Dustin: Yeah we play that song all the time cause it’s kind of a Beach Fossils staple I guess at this point. For me, that song was really pure the way it came about. I had already finished the whole album, Clash the Truth, but it didn’t have a name and it didn’t have any lyrics yet. I had finished all the instrumentals and I always do my lyrics last after I have written the whole instrumental album and I sing over it after that. And I was having really crazy writer’s block, so I went to the park one afternoon and I just had a notebook and was just writing in it for like hours and when I was done it was pretty much just the lyrics to the theme to most of the entire album and pretty much the lyrics from Clash the Truth were all in there, so I was like, “uhh I’m just gonna sing that.” because that was expressing exactly who I was and exactly where I was at the time.
Rob: From a fan’s perspective, you guys exist in that undefined genre that’s a mix of “modern psychedelic”, indie, rock, lo fi and a bunch of others. How would you explain your style? Was it intentional?
Dustin: I think everyone’s pulling from the same record collections. For me, my influences are a lot of late seventies, early eighties UK post-punk and a lot of sixties psychedelic influence in there, but also a lot of jazz and baroque influence and a lot of power pop influence. Whatever it is, I try not to think about it like, “Oh we’re gonna make this style.” when we sit down and write a song. It’s just like let’s just make a song. I guess everything that I listen to just kind of simmers in my brain and then I just let it out. I feel like one of the biggest pit falls new bands have is being like, “We want to be a band that sounds like this. Like this thing.”, but it’s already there and it’s cool to have a jumping off point, but you need to carve your own sound out in whatever way you can.
Before their set, the playlist that came on played Dark Entries, by Bauhaus and Dead and Buried, by Alien Sex Fiend, confirming their post-punk influences and making the show that much interesting!
Rob: Would you say making your own sound has gotten easier over time, or has it become harder with the expectations from Beach Fossils?
Dustin: I think its gotten hard maybe because when I was writing the early stuff I didn’t think about what I was making, I just made it. Now, I am trying to make a conscious effort of not sounding like the last record, so there is more thinking about what this album is, what the songs sound like, the structure of the songs, making a cohesive album that kind of all fits together. I don’t know, I think at the end of the day you need to focus on writing individual songs and when you’ve written enough songs that you like then you have an album. It doesn’t matter if you think they work together or not, if you love them all then they just will work together even if they all sound like totally different. You know, I obviously I have a lot of influences and inspirations and stuff, but these days I feel the inspiration is more based on textures and sonic qualities and almost like production stuff more than it is song writing.
Rob: Of course I have to ask, are you working on anything right now?
Dustin: Yeah, we’re never not working on stuff. When we finished Somersault, before it even came we out, we were already writing new songs. Again, it goes back to not necessarily writing for an album per say, we’re just constantly writing songs. I don’t know what it’s like to not write songs cause that’s just all I do with my time. If I’m not writing a song, I feel like there’s a huge piece of me that’s missing. You don’t even need to take long, if you can sit down as much as you and work on stuff, have a routine with it that’s all, you’ll have it.
Rob: Since you’re always writing, is it always songs? Or did you ever have some other sort of plan?
Dustin: I’m usually writing music cause that’s the thing I normally get the most satisfaction out of. I write prose and poetry often as well because it helps me with the lyric stuff. When we’re writing it’s always instrumental and I need to have something to pull lyrics from, so I usually try to write poetry and prose regularly. That way when I’m finished with the instrumental I can have ideas to look at and go over and be like, “Okay, this can be this theme for this, this can be this.” They both need their own space because they’re both really different. But focusing on everything separate is really important. The same with when I’m on tour, all I’m doing is touring. I used to try to write and record on tour and then I realized I felt like I was running myself out. You know, I was just wearing myself down. Like, I would bring a computer on tour and after the shows, I would go and record in the hotel room with a computer and then try to write and record in the van and it became too crazy, so if I’m on tour I’m just on tour and if I’m at home I’m just writing and that’s that.
Rob: On a scale from an average gig to partying with Post Malone, how would you say this show is gonna go?
Dustin: The shows gonna be a ten out of ten because every show we play we give all of ourselves into.
Rob: How do you know him??
Dustin: What, our friendship with Austin? I don’t know, it was kind of early before he super blew up and I saw an interview of him on Youtube or something and I was like, “this guy reminds me of us and all of our friends.” He’s just super funny and loves all kinds of music and I was like this is our fucking guy. So I just hit him up on Twitter and I was like, “Yo, let’s jam.” or something like that and he just DM’d me his phone number. He’s the nicest dude. We went to LA and just hung out and we’ve been good friends ever since and every time he comes to New York we get, uh, a little too wild.
Rob: I got one last question. It’s a really important one. Are you a beach band?
Dustin: We are not a beach band. I don’t like the beach, I don’t like the sunlight, I don’t like the sand, I don’t like salty water, I don’t even listen to surf rock. I mean I’m a fan of Dick Dale and I don’t know if you would consider Link Wray and that vibe or whatever. I mean it’s fine it’s not like I don’t like that stuff, like I listen to that, but it’s not what I’m trying to sound like. I think the name, it’s the most frustrating thing. There’s just lazy journalism. We will debut a song like Social Jetlag and music sites will write about it like, “Get out your surfboards! Even though it’s snowing out summer is here!” and it’s like yo what the fuck? It’s psychotic. It happens all the time.
Rob: I assumed when I first saw the name it was a joke about old rock music or something. People really think your a beach band?
Dustin: Yeah, people say that a lot. It’s kind of psycho. It’s also funny cause people are like, “This music sounds so sunshiney and summery.” and I’m like I pretty much write like most of the majority of the music in the winter.
Rob: It’s the best time to write.
Dustin: Yeah. It’s like it’s cold, it’s snowing. You want to just be inside and be working on stuff. I don’t know. People can say what they want because who cares. And when people say it, they don’t even say it in a negative way, their just like, yeah it’s just lazy journalism. What are you gonna do?
Rob: So, where did the name come from then?
Dustin: See that’s kind of the problem. If I could change anything about the band, I would change the name because when I was recording the first Beach Fossils demos, I was living in New York, I was super broke, I was about to move back to my home town just because I ran out, I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know what to do. Really last minute, someone told me that I should send these demos out of these songs that I’ve been working on. To send them to labels. And I was like, yeah I don’t even have a name for this project, though. And they were like, “just write something down.”, so I was like shit I don’t know what to do. I had a notebook, I always have notebooks where I’m like keeping words for lyrics and stuff, and those two words were in there and I was like, “Uhh, I’ll just call it Beach Fossils.” Cause I was like I wasn’t going to get signed anyways. So I just sent it off and then they were like, “Yeah, cool.” and then we started playing shows immediately and then it picked up so fast there was no going back and changing the name.
Tommy Davidson: Radiohead was not taken at the time in 2009 and so I’m like, you know, myspace buddies with Tom York and I was like, “is there anyway we can have it?” and he was like, “Hmm Stereolab’s taken”. Yeah Radiolab was taken, Radio 4 couldn’t do that, Radiohead was taken, so we just figured we’ll do DIIV and then Wild Nothing or something.
The show itself lived up to all expectations. With a blend of serious songs and comedic intro’s, the 2020 tour is already off to an excellent start. Beach Fossils is a band with the attitude and sound of a local group of guys passionate about music, regardless of how big they grow. Below is the rest of their 2020 North American tour:
Beach Fossils, now known as DIIV and then Wild Nothing, is not a beach band.
JAN 18 SAT
The Mothlight – Asheville, NC, United States
JAN 19 SUN
Radio Room – Greenville, SC, United States
JAN 21 TUE
Charleston Pour House – Charleston, SC, United States
JAN 22 WED
Service Brewing Co. – Savannah, GA, United States
JAN 23 THU
High Dive – Gainesville, FL, United States
JAN 24 FRI
The Abbey – Orlando, FL, United States
JAN 25 SAT
Gramps – Miami, FL, United States
JAN 27 MON
The Moon – Tallahassee, FL, United States
JAN 28 TUE
40 Watt Club – Athens, GA, United States
JAN 29 WED
Food Court (Mammal Gallery) – Atlanta, GA, United States
JAN 30 THU
The Basement East – Nashville, TN, United States
JAN 31 FRI
Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC, United States
FEB 1 SAT
The Broadberry – Richmond, VA, United States
MAY 13 WED
Brooklyn Steel – Brooklyn, NY, United States
MAY 14 THU
Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL, United States
MAY 18 MON
Gas Monkey Live! – Dallas, TX, United States
MAY 19 TUE
Mohawk – Austin, TX, United States
MAY 20 WED
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA, United States
MAY 21 THU
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA, United States
MAY 22 FRI
The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA, United States
Tickets on Website