Beach Fossils' Guide to UK Punk
Beach Fossils' Dustin Payseur guides us through his collection of weathered tapes, seven-inches, and records.
[Eds. Note: I hadn't met Dustin Payseur until he strolled into the office last week, toting a portable tape player and a backpack full of weathered tapes, seven-inches, and records. It had come to my attention that Dustin is a fanatical fan of 80s UK hardcore, which is surprising considering his band, Beach Fossils, sounds like your idealized high school mix tape of mopey, heart-on-sleeve new wave and wistful dream-stuff. I was intrigued, so I asked Dustin to guide me through his tape collection, which he's since he bought it off Geocities eleven years ago. Press the little orange play button down there to listen to Dustin's mix of his favorite UK punk, and scroll down to hear what he's got to say about it.]
I got into punk when I was 15. I grew up going to Catholic School in North Carolina, and the only rebellious music I'd heard was just really shitty metal. That was the first thing I'd heard, and I was pretty much anti-everything around me, so it worked, even though that stuff was garbage. My parents and older sister were into the basics of punk rock and they got me into it. They had a Black Flag cassette, I remember that. Then my sister introduced me to a bunch of her friends and I started playing music with them. I was in a band called the Cunt Fucks for a while, when I was 16. I played bass because the guitar player was in rehab.
Finding punk rock was extremely personal for me, especially because a lot of the stuff I was interested in came out way before my time. I'd try to go see some of these bands on their reunion tours, like the Business or Slaughter and the Dogs, but there were militant skinheads at all the shows and it was a really weird scene. I didn't even know where those dudes came from, because I certainly didn't see them walking around in North Carolina.
Back when Geocities and Angelfire were around, I started ordering tapes from guys off the Internet. All of these tape covers are just printed out at home by whoever I bought them from. A lot of this stuff is UK punk and hardcore, bands that only put out a few seven-inches or an EP or two and that's it. One press photo and no information about them. You can't find biographies on them or anything, which makes them more mysterious and cool. I don't actually know a ton about these bands, aside from just the music itself. I just ordered them based on whether or not I liked the cover most of the time.
When I was getting into this stuff my general rule of thumb was that if it was from the UK and released between the years of 1982 and 1984, it was pretty much going to be good. Almost all of this stuff sounds the same, and all the bands pretty much have the same message: "Fuck you, fuck the government, fuck everybody, fuck everything." That's exactly how I was feeling when I got into this stuff. That's how anyone feels when you're a teenager. You can't necessarily live your life like that, but you can for a little while when you're a teenager. That was me: I was doing terribly in school, and a lot of these songs are like "Fuck School," so I was like "Yeah, that's cool! Look at these guys, they said fuck school!" Who knows what they're up to now though.
When I first heard this stuff, I realized I'd never heard anything with such low quality. I mean, it kind of sounds like shit. Obviously it's super low budget, but it's all there. This music made me realize all of a sudden that this is something I can do, that this is something that anybody can do. Before, it was like, you have to have a lot of money, you have to go to a studio, and you have to have lots of nice gear and a record label. Even early punk rock was sort of like that. But this was the first time I felt I'd found something really DIY, and it kind of blew my mind. A lot of these bands were going to studios, but they weren't spending a week on the record. Just a day or two. There's tons of mistakes, shit sounds way out of tune, or the drummer misses a snare hit. It's part of the charm.
Now I barely have any records left. When I moved to New York I was really broke and I sold most of my punk records, because they were worth the most. I held onto some of them, but I'll never let go of these tapes.
Beach Fossils' new record, Clash The Truth, will be out on Captured Tracks on February 19 through captured tracks. You can pre-order it right here.