Beach Slang's James Snyder on pop-punk: 'We're trying to do it right'
Sung by Katy Perry over a Max Martin beat, a lyric like “The night is alive, it’s loud, and I’m drunk” could provide the soundtrack for clubs across America. But those words aren’t from the next Top 40 sensation — they’re the opening lines James Snyder sings on “Noisy Heaven,” the third track on the debut album from Philly pop-punk outfit Beach Slang. Out today, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us blurs sentimental lyricism with crunchy power chords and Snyder’s wistful snarl for an album that’s an immediate shoo-in for the genre’s canon.
“I wanted to be really honest, no armor, no guard up when I did Beach Slang,” Snyder tells EW by phone from a rest stop “somewhere between Cleveland and Indianapolis” as the band tours the Midwest. “This is the most honest writing I’ve ever done. I’m a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of guy — sometimes that’s a little scary when you put that out into the world.” He pauses, before adding, “Who knew honesty would connect so well with people?”
Snyder doesn’t need to worry: Bands have set lyrics like “Too young to die, too late to die young” — one of the best on Beach Slang’s debut — to distortion-soaked melodies for years. But while he enthusiastically describes his band’s sound as “guitar, bass, and drums played loudly,” Snyder alludes to larger sonic ambitions. “In my head it’s like Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs fronted the Replacements,” he says with a laugh. “It’s lofty, but that’s the head space I’m in. I don’t want to aim for the ankles.”
Snyder’s been a fixture of Philadelphia’s music scene since the ’90s, when he played with local favorites Weston. Those connections formed Beach Slang’s foundation. “We’re all products of the Philadelphia punk rock scene,” he says. “We see each other at shows all the time, and then just decided we should play together.”
For what it’s worth, Snyder now seems to have pop-punk down pat. “You take this hookable vibe and combine it with this restless spirit,” he says in describing his music. “It just becomes this really cool thing, if done right. And, you know, we’re trying to do it right.”