Beach Fossils frontman is not eager to rush things
By his own admission, Beach Fossils frontman Dustin Payseur is something of a perfectionist, which explains the delay behind the follow-up to his band’s critically acclaimed eponymous 2010 debut.
“I’m one of those people who overanalyzes things—absolutely,” the singer-guitarist says on the line from his Brooklyn home. “That’s one of the hardest things about writing songs by yourself. You don’t have anyone else there to give you feedback, so you get really critical of yourself. You might end up throwing away stuff that’s really good or using a part that’s not that good. It’s hard to tell the difference.”
It’s not that Beach Fossils—which started out as a Payseur solo project and has since morphed into a quartet—hasn’t been busy over the past couple of years. The late winter of 2011 saw the release of an eight-song EP titled What a Pleasure, a record that found the group sounding even more low-key and dreamily blissed-out than its debut. There’s also been a steady stream of singles, the most recent being the just-released “Shallow/Lessons” seven-inch on the Captured Tracks label. Both songs amp up the jaggedness of the guitars while keeping the vocals floating in enough reverb to raise the Titanic.
That Payseur decided “Shallow” and “Lessons” were worthy of being pressed suggests that he hasn’t been entirely paralyzed in his attempts to write a harder-edged follow-up to Beach Fossils. But the creative process hasn’t been easy, this reflected by the fact that he’s scrapped more than a new full-length’s worth of material over the past year. The problem? Admirably, he’s not interested in repeating himself.
“I guess the songs didn’t quite have the energy that I was looking for,” Payseur says. “I don’t want to make the same record that I’ve made before. But at the same time, I don’t want the next one to be too insanely far off either—something that comes completely out of the blue. It’s a balance of making stuff that you really like and want to hear but that you know other people would also enjoy.”
If Payseur is being overly careful with his next step as an artist, that’s probably because people have been quick to latch onto what he’s doing with Beach Fossils. That hard-fought recognition has been a long time coming for the singer, who’s been in bands since he was a kid in North Carolina. Now that people are paying attention to what he’s doing, the last thing he wants to do is blow it by rushing things.
“I came to New York with no plan,” Payseur says. “I was already playing music in my hometown of Charlotte, but it felt like a dead end that I wanted to get out of. I always wanted to go to New York. I came up here and didn’t know anybody and I didn’t have a job, so I had no way of meeting people. People usually meet people through a job or school, and I didn’t have that. I was looking for a job, recording by myself, and so broke that I was thinking about going back to North Carolina to finish school. I sent some demos out for the hell of it and heard back from Captured Tracks, who wanted to put something out. It was like ‘Now I have to stay and make this work. And I’m glad it worked out.”
Beach Fossils plays Electric Owl on Friday (May 11).