The playlist: Beach Slang's James Alex

The punk rockers’ leader lets us into his classic rock and indie-fuelled record collection.

The song that inspired me to play… Pinball Wizard – The Who

“Pete Townshend’s the reason I play, he feels like a god to me. Then I saw a high school production of Tommy, with school kids playing those songs, and I thought, ‘You can be 15 or 16 and play songs that Townshend wrote?’ It cracked my whole head open; I thought, ‘Maybe I can have a go at this’.” 

I wish I wrote this riff… Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult

“This is my ‘am I in tune?’ riff. That thing is timeless, there’s no one that doesn’t hear the first few picks and know that riff. I’m a real rock ’n’ roll romantic, you know when you hear the first few notes and everyone’s like ‘aaaah!’ Don’t Fear The Reaper’s always had that on me.”

The first song I learned to play… Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

“I learned that and Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution by AC/DC in the same lesson. I know Smoke On The Water is a lot of people’s first, but yes, those were my first two.”

I’m currently listening to… Caught By The Fuzz – Supergrass

“I’m rediscovering it. There’s just a relentlessness to that song; there’s this bridge and pre-chorus that I really wish I wrote. I’m trying to rip it off but it’s so perfect that I can’t without stealing it!”

The song I’d like to cover… Staring At The Sun – Ultra Vivid Scene

 “It’s just a beautifully crafted song, and the guitar work is really incredible. That song should have been gigantic, but I think it was written 20 years too soon. I can’t play the part yet, it’s so weird and beautiful that my fingers aren’t cooperating quite yet.” 

To introduce someone to our band I’d play them... Bad Art And Weirdo Ideas – Beach Slang

“I think that song encapsulates Beach Slang pretty well; the raw guitar tones with the Johnny Marr-esque picking over it. And the messaging, [it’s about] a kind of cracked-but-not-broken spirit.” 

The most challenging song of ours to perform live is… The Perfect High – Beach Slang

“We’ve been faking it and getting by pretty well so far! [laughs] I think some of the stuff on the new record’s going to [challenge us]. I brought more Britpop, shoegaze and nu-wave stuff into it, and I think that might be challenging because it’s not so dependent on a full-throttle wall of sound. The Perfect High in particular I think might be particularly challenging once we start doing it in front of a room of people.”

My favourite solo is... Eruption – Van Halen

"I think it would be incredible to walk into parties and play Eruption, but that’s never going to happen. Guitar solos, I see the power of them, but I never try to play a hundred notes – I try to play three that make you feel something. Take Disorder by Joy Division – that kind of stuff. A couple of notes that really reach into you, I think I subscribe to that more. I think that hits a little harder and resonates deeper."


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