Earlier this month Norwegian quartet Beachheads released their debut eponymous full-length. With a sound rooted in (mostly) 3 minute guitar-driven power-pop songs, ‘Beachheads’ is a heartfelt and fun collection. For two of its members, guitarist Vidar Landa and bassist Marvin Nygaard, it has allowed them to step out of the confines of heavy rockers Kvelertak. Having toured on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years, it is on the road where the idea of Beachheads first formed. Together they shared a mutual admiration for bands like Big Star, The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, Landa and Nygaard. “Beachheads became a band where we could take all these other inspirations and do something new,” says Landa. “We enjoy playing together and had all these ideas that sounded very different from what we do in Kvelertak.”
After putting together a demo, they were joined by Espen Kvaløy and, later, former synth-pop vocalist Børild Haughom. While the band’s early years consisted of having no big plans except for a possible album, you would consider labelling the band as a “side-project” for Vidar and Marvin yet it’s a term Landa dismisses. He explains; “To me “side-project” has a negative connotation to it, being something less serious. Most people know the two us from another band and I guess it is an easy way to describe the band. But there is four of us in Beachheads. In the end it doesn’t really matter, hopefully, the music speaks for itself and people can label it whatever they want. Our only concern was that it had to be good.”
With its members in place, they began demoing the songs that would eventually end up on their self-titled debut. As Landa states, the opportunity to work with new people was a benefit to all involved. “Writing this record has been a lot of fun and we have learned a lot. It is always refreshing to start on something new, that being a new record, a new band or a new tour. And it has been very inspiring to play with and work with other musicians in the studio during the making of this record.”
‘Beachheads’ contains a plethora of upbeat melodies. Songs such as ‘Moment of Truth’, ‘Break Me Down’ and ‘Your Highness’ thrive on jangly, driving guitars and energetic hooks, making for an addictive record. When it came to writing the album, it is those melodies that serve as the foundation. “Most of the time either Marvin or I have an idea for a song, it could be a melody line or a catchy hook,” says Vidar. “Sometimes we have songs that are more or less done. If the others guys like it, we start working on it together in the rehearsal room until we are happy with it. Then Børild starts writing lyrics and we make demos. If we still like a song a week after recording a demo, we keep it.”
Despite the bright nature of the record, it carries an honest and mournful undertone. With Børild Haughom being the band’s main songwriter, the record allowed him to grieve the passing of his father who died during the making of the album. Songs such as ‘Despair’ and ‘Procession’ gave the vocalist the opportunity to express his thoughts with the process proving to be cathartic. “It’s not easy (at least not for me) to talk about all the thoughts that appear in your head when something like that happens in your life,” says Haughom. “Just putting the words on paper has been a cathartic release, and for me, to communicate the words in songs like this adds a depth to the words that I believe hits people in a different way than just talking to them face to face.
All the lyrics are straight out honest, whether it’s about my lovely mother, the passing of my dear father, falling in and out of love or simply mulling over things I can’t seem to let go of. It’s important to me that I can relate to and stand for my own words when I’m performing the songs in front of a crowd.”
When asked about what message the album serves, Haughom offers a reflective piece of advice; “whatever happens in life, don’t linger on all these different things, because what has happened belongs to the past and can’t be undone no matter what.”
It’s clear its members are enthusiastic about Beachheads, yet with the album out and receiving plenty of praise, it is proving to be tricky to build on the momentum gained due to Landa’s and Nygaard’s Kvelertak commitments. “Kvelertak is a very busy band with a lot of opportunities popping up all the time,” says Vidar. As a result, the opportunity to take the band out on the road have so far been limited, with a handful of homeland album release shows played under their belt. However, as our time with the band ends, Vadar is hopeful of the band playing shows further afield in the coming months; “It has been difficult to plan ahead with Beachheads, but we are looking into doing some shows in Europe if we find the time.”
‘Beachheads’ by Beachheads is out now on Fysisk Format.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)