Lukewarm Questions is a recurring feature wherein musicians are invited to construct their own interviews by selecting the questions that they would like to answer.
When I think about Magazine Beach, I think about being eleven and hearing Riot by Paramore for the first time. I think about shows in cramped, dark spaces brightened by the shimmer on a peeling stratocaster. I think about summer, and I think about the months leading up to summer during which all I can think about is what I am going to do in the summer. I heard Magazine Beach’s newest EP, Friendless Summer, at the exact right time. It comprises of five songs that not only teem with frenetic, ecstatic, loving energy but with the specific textures of boredom. I must be clear: there is nothing about this EP that is boring. However, it perfectly encapsulates the familiar vibrations of boredom with care and discernment.
Friendless Summer is a record that finds love and profundity is so many corners of the human experience, but the recurring exploration of who we choose to be bored with is perhaps most compelling to me. On “How Many Bees? (3 Pounds),” vocalists Angelo Leitner-Wise and Casey Rutter wail, “when you’re back from the station / we can write some songs in your basement / now you’re breaking my teeth down on I street / and we’re falling apart watching Twin Peaks.” There are a lot of pop punk bands out there, and there are a fair number of pop punk bands with phenomenal hooks. However, it is rare to come across an act that slings lyrics as excellent as their guitar lines. Friendless Summer is thirteen minutes of exaltation and discontentment, but once the chorus of an infectious song like title track “Friendless Summer” eventually stops circling in my head, I am left with something even more precious– the prayerful stasis I feel as I repeat the words devoid of melody. The title track’s outro is a prime example: “you’re the black in my coffee, you make me feel better / swear I can feel you when I wear your sweaters / you’re 575, just like beautiful weather / please stay alive cause you make me feel better.” Someone is going to have a tattoo of that lyric someday, if not already.
No one has put this specific type of care, of friendship, of dependence into words in the exact way that Magazine Beach does. They are responsible for some of the most indelible lines of 2020 paired with some of the most unassailable hooks. The first time I heard their music, I knew that there were going to be eleven year olds hearing this band in their bedrooms for the first time and feeling something completely new. As a newly-minted adult who has gone through her fair share of emo phases, what most shocks me is how Magazine Beach makes this musical tradition feel completely new to me, too.
Headlight Spirits: What is the best lyric you’ve ever written? Tell me the story behind it.
Angelo Leitner-Wise of Magazine Beach: Not sure if it’s the best lyric I’ve written but I really dig “maybe I could be myself and you could be the sea, just promise that you’ll pull me under” from our song “Far Out.” I think that was the first song I ever wrote for Magazine Beach. And basically I had tried different versions of that lyric in other songs for years that never quite worked, it felt really good to find a good home for it in that song, even though I’m fairly sick of “Far Out” now.
Tell me a song that reminds you of seventh grade.
The song that reminds me of 7th grade the most is “Fall For You” by Secondhand Serenade. A classic.
Name some organizations within your community to which Headlight Spirits readers should redistribute funds if able.
Nothing specific but everyone should look for mutual aid groups in their area and help out as much as they can! It’s the best way to make sure funds/time go to people in your community who need it the most.
Who are some of your influences in terms of music production?
What comes to mind right now is the album Fates Worse Than Death by Short Fictions, the production on that album is like perfect, everything is in the exact right place. I believe it was produced by Jake Checkoway who also produced Somewhere City by Origami Angel. Basically whatever he works on sounds really good. In general though I’m really into more lo-fi production, which probably doesn’t come through too much in Friendless Summer. But stuff like the first Lala Lala record, Habit by Snail Mail, Tite! by Fox Teeth and any stuff by Field Medic have like a real casually lo-fi production to them which I really love and would like to channel more into some Mag Beach stuff.
Which other local artists from D.C. should our readers be listening to?
There are far too many excellent DC artists but everyone should definitely check out Commander Salamander, Tosser, chicx guapx, Courage Mother, Origami Angel, Bartees Strange, Two Thumbs Down, BAD MOVES, Des Demonas, and Sweet Peach (rip).
What is your favorite album artwork of all time?
This is the kind of question that I could think about for hours and hours and probably never actually decide on but off the dome I’ll say the first glass beach album by glass beach. Truly a work of art and also the reason I clicked on that album for the first time.
Tell me a question about your music that you wish you never had to answer again.
I don’t like when people ask why we’re called Magazine Beach. I don’t know why either.
Friendless Summer provided a feeling of summer for me in a year when I was mostly at home. What, if any, influence did the pandemic have on the project?
Friendless Summer was like 99% done being written in early March 2020 right before the pandemic really got started, so it didn’t really have much influence (content-wise) on the songs. But since we originally planned on recording it in March and ended up actually recording it in August because we had no idea what was happening with the pandemic, I definitely got to sit with the songs a little longer and make them flow a little smoother or change words around, which probably made a big difference in the end. This was also right around the time that Casey officially joined the band and she had some time to write her parts and harmonies in the songs that really made the EP come together. The biggest effect the pandemic had on this release was that while we were recording it we were missing live music so much, that it made the energy on this EP so important. We just wanted it to be really fun and loud and fast to kind of make you feel like you’re at a show for 12-ish minutes.
Headlight Spirits is named after a lyric from “Carry Me Out.” What is your favorite Mitski song and why?
My favorite Mitski song is “Townie.” It was one of the first Mitski songs I heard and “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony” is one of my favorite things ever written in the English language.
Friendless Summer, the newest EP from Magazine Beach, is available for purchase on Bandcamp and Knifepunch Records. Stream their music on Spotify and Apple Music and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.