From a whisper to a scream: Talking bubbles, Beach (and Quiet) Slang with James Alex

The band opens for Dashboard Confessional at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on March 24.

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click to enlarge James Alex of Beach Slang, which plays Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 24, 2018. - Charlie Lowe
Charlie Lowe
James Alex of Beach Slang, which plays Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 24, 2018.

Mr. Bubbles. That (and a 2016 malbec) is the secret to a good bathtub pic. That's according to Beach Slang's James Alex, who is bringing his band to St. Petersburg on March 24 as part of a tour headlined by Dashboard Confessional (Kississippi opens the superbill).

Alex's Quiet Slang project made its proper live debut last week at SXSW (complete with backing vocals from Tierney Tough of Orlando indie-pop band The Pauses), and the show was a "nerve-wracker" for Alex, who is used to camouflaging any potential mistakes in distortion. He turns the sound back up on Saturday, but don't expect him to tweak the normal Beach Slang set when he gets in front of Dashboard fans.

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"I want them to connect honestly. And I hope they do. I don’t want to sell snake oil. I don’t want smoke and mirrors," he told CL in a short Q&A. "And I surely don’t want to set them up to be let down. Everyone that has hitched onto Slang has done so because it means something, because it’s important to us. I’ll never dampen that just to sell a few more records."

Read our chat, and get more information on the show, below. Check out our last chat with Alex and Cigar City Radio by clicking here. Quiet Slang's new album, Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, sees release on May 18 via Polyvinyl Records.

You should totally contact your local record store to see if it is carrying the release. Listen to parts of the record at the bottom of this post.

Dashboard Confessional w/Beach Slang/Kississippi
Sat. March 24, 5:30 p.m. $28 & up.
Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg


We love the bubble bath pic [from the Nylon SXSW Tour Diary]. What’s your wine of choice and bubble variety there?

Haha. Thanks, man! Yeah, for SXSW, we crashed at an Airbnb just outside of Austin and wine just found its way into the rhythm of being there. This one is an Alamos Malbec 2016 (you’re supposed to give the year, right?) The bubbles are Mr. Bubble—the classics, you know?

You just pulled off the amazing live debut of Quiet Slang at SXSW. You looked like you had fun. Any regrets or observations from the set now that you’ve had time to let it sink in?

Firstly, thanks for the sweet words. That thing was a nerve-wracker. I’m used to being able to mess things up and get away with it. Distortion is damn good camouflage. But cellos don’t leave a whole lot of room to hide. I think the only thing I’d change is having a couple rehearsals. I mean, I liked the danger and vulnerability of never having played together. I think it brought something to it. It felt very rock & roll to just set up and go. But, yeah, it’d be cool to tighten up some things that floated a bit.

What’s it like to come off of that and back into this full band swing you’re doing as direct support for Dashboard Confessional?

Like a whisper to a scream, man. During that first Loud Slang show, I felt like JFA or The Faction, like a wild cannon. We were charging, reckless and smiling, and it felt good to sweat and bleed again. I suppose that’s the balance I dig most about Beach and Quiet Slang—it gives me room for the exorcism and the baptism, the dark and the light.

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Beach Slang’s James Alex and Charlie Lowe shoot the shit with CL and Cigar City Radio before Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor

Diehard Beach Slang fans know what they can expect from you, but you’ll get an opportunity spend some quality time with a fan base that may be familiar with your band, but not in an intimate way. Are you going to tweak the set at all to really reel them in on this tour?

Nah. No tricks. I want them to connect honestly. And I hope they do. I don’t want to sell snake oil. I don’t want smoke and mirrors. And I surely don’t want to set them up to be let down. Everyone that has hitched onto Slang has done so because it means something, because it’s important to us. I’ll never dampen that just to sell a few more records.

So you’re fawning of the Stephin Merritt sound for Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, but it’s not due until the summer. How do you deal with all the energy in between the album announce and release day?

Booze, humor and distraction. Learning pace is devastatingly difficult. I’m trying. Failing, but trying.

And how is sweet, sweet Charlie doing? Anything special planned for the downtime in Florida?

She’s the greatest—tour managing like a Viking, eating healthy and smiling always. She’s the real deal. I don’t know that we have a whole bunch of downtime, but if I can steal enough space to get to Harry Potter, I’m A-OK with it

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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