"Create a Name for This Scene": Beach Riot on the Brighton Grunge Revival

Brighton’s recent musical history has been littered with angry noisemakers. From the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster through The Ghost Of A Thousand to Architects, there seems to be some special magic generated when drive pedal is engaged in close proximity to the pebble beach.

The latest fuzzmongers to join the fray are Beach Riot, a band whose name couldn’t be more on point. We spoke to singer and guitarist Rory O’Connor about the burgeoning scene on the seafront.

How did Beach Riot start?

I was up in London in 2010 playing in a much more Britpop-sounding band and I was getting a bit fed up with it. It wasn’t really my kind of music. I saw bands like Demob Happy and Tigercub down here playing much more the kind of music I do—fuzzy, poppy kind of stuff—and I just thought, I’ve got to get down, because something is happening in Brighton. I was seeing them play really big gigs, getting a bit of a following, making amazing music. So I wrote a few demos and got Jim and Jonny, but I wasn’t actually thinking of doing a band. I just had these two songs. I came down to Brighton Electric Studios and set up with Steven Ansell from Blood Red Shoes and he just recorded us in the rehearsal room, just the three of us, and they sounded fucking awesome.

It wasn’t really a plan. It just sort of happened. I was back up in London and met Cami (Beach Riot guitarist) and she loved these songs. We spent about two months trying to find a drummer and a bassist. For some reason, I was really adamant that I had to have a band up in London. With my last band, we all lived literally across the road from each other. I had it in my mind that you have to do that to be a band. We just couldn’t find anyone. None of the drummers could play Jonny’s parts, the bassists couldn’t seem to do what Jim was doing. It just wasn’t working and in the end Cami said, “Why don’t you just use those two amazing people you have recorded with?” So I just kind of fell in to it in a way. As soon as I realised we should just use them, we had one rehearsal and I booked a gig. Before I knew it, we were gigging. That was a year and a half ago.

What guitars are you all using?

I use a Framus Strato Deluxe. It’s a copy of a Jag. It was made in the 60s. It’s nuts. It’s got these weird gold pickups and six or seven volumes and tones. In true grunge style, it’s battered. Lots of loud distortions and wobbly modulations going on. And for amps, I use a solidstate Fender combo because I would probably break a valve amp, and they’re too heavy. Cami uses the same. She uses my Jag. She’s got a ‘59 Musicmaster that she got for nothing that she’s going to use at some point.

Framus Strato Deluxe
Fender Musicmaster

What pedals are you using to create this "fuzzy, poppy" sound?

I’m a Big Muff guy. Classic Big muff. When we first started, the plan was to use a wall of fuzz. Two Big Muffs and some Boss bass fuzz. The sound is becoming a bit tighter now. The basslines are more intricate, more of a Stranglers sound. I’ve just started using a Death By Audio clone, which just makes the most gnarly bit-crushed sounds. It’s just becoming a bit more controlled fuzz, and that will be evident on this EP that’s coming out.

You said you moved to Brighton and started gigging pretty much immediately. What makes the scene so exciting there?

Brighton right now is rampant with grunge bands using fuzz pedals. It’s the first time right now where I could name you 15 bands that are a similar style. It’s a proper scene. I feel like we need someone in the heavens to look down and say, “This is happening.” We just need to give it a name and if we give it a name, maybe people will start talking about it. So there we go, create a name for this scene.

For more info on Beach Riot, check out the band's Facebook page here.
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