Chances are you can catch Dustin Payseur, the visionary force behind the Brooklyn-based rockers Beach Fossils, holed up in his apartment.
“It’s kind of a nice feeling; I don’t go out much in between tours. I use my time wisely writing and recording songs,” said the wiry, mild-mannered North Carolina native last month in a phone call ahead of another of those tours, which this time brings the indie sensations to Israel for their first show at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv on September 17.
Beach Fossils sounds like a band you could easily fall in love with – dreamy, amp-up tunes propelled by jangly guitars and post-punk rhythms behind Payseur’s mumbled Stipe-like vocals. And many romances have resulted, with the band gaining a solid fan base over the course of three albums, including its latest, well- received breakout Clash the Truth .
It’s really their first “band” album, as the previous two efforts – 2009’s self- released and self-titled album, and the 2011 EP “What a Pleasure” – were primarily solo projects by Payseur.
“I moved to New York to make music, but when I got here I was really intimidated,” said Payseur. “I didn’t know why anyone was going to care what I was doing, when there were so many good bands around. But people here are actually incredibly nice, and as far as musicians go, everyone that moves here does so for the same reasons. So instead of being competitive, everyone gets along really well and helps each other out. We’re all here for creative purposes.”
Payseur began performing live with some of those like-minded musicians, and it eventually evolved into the current lineup including drummer Tommy Gardner, guitarist Jack Doyle Smith and bassist Tommy Davidson. Payseur wholeheartedly admitted that he prefers a band situation on all fronts.
“We’ve had many different members over the years, and I’m the only one in the band from the beginning,” said Payseur.
“It’s not that I don’t like being in a band – it’s really what I want to be doing. They’re my friends, and we become extremely close with touring and traveling together all the time. Either they become your best friends or your worst enemies. We have a great lineup now, and it’s definitely a band, not a solo project. They’re all more talented than I am.”
But he still needs his time on his own, which is why he was in his apartment working on new songs by himself.
“That’s what I’m always doing if I’m not performing – I record as much as possible,” said Payseur. “It’s not particularly for any project, I just like to record songs in general. In many instances, they wouldn’t fit or work as Beach Fossils music. Some of the stuff I record is a lot louder and more aggressive, and I don’t really know what to do with it yet. I just want to get it out of my system.”
He recorded home demos of more than 70 songs before deciding on the final 12 that appear on Clash the Truth .
“I started to get ambitious, thinking I’d go into the studio and record a double album,” he said. “But at the last second, I realized that was a horrible idea.
Nobody was going to listen to a double album, so I cut it down to one.
Recording is the first step; the rest is narrowing it down and kind of figuring out what you want to say.”
Payseur must be saying something right because over the last three years Beach Fossils has become a Brooklyn buzz band. One reviewer of Clash the Truth wrote, “While Beach Fossils seem to fit in nicely with other rooftop party bands in the musically conscious borough, at the core of the band’s hazy fuzzed-out vocals and circular song structures lies a beating punk rock heart,” and concluded the review: “Beach Fossils have delivered an album of shimmering guitars and an ebulliently bouncy rhythm that is simply a beautiful listen.”
Curious music lovers who venture to the Barby Club next week will be bound to agree with that assessment.