Mariel Beaumont has a few tricks up her sleeve this year. Her band Church Girls has a new EP Home, set to release in September, with more music coming down the pipeline later this year. Beaumont has described her band as “straightforward punk / 90’s indie rock”, and it is refreshingly so. In the era of EDM, anything resembling rock stands out in the crowd.
Beaumont’s voice rings clear and sweet over cascading guitar riffs on their new single “Black Seas”. “Black Seas is about wanting to help someone you care about while uncertain of the boundaries — does this person want my help? Are my motivations purely benevolent? Am I even in a position to offer help, given my own problems?”, Mariel says, describing the mood behind the music.
We talked with Mariel about the music scene in Philadelphia and what the rest of 2018 looks like for Church Girls.
Listen to “Black Seas” below:
AF: You’re based in Philadelphia. What’s the music scene there like? When I think of that city I just picture Tom Hanks and that’s about it (Philadelphia novice that I am).
MB: Haha. Philly is a great music town – I think the secret is out now. The city has gotten a lot nicer in the eight years I’ve lived there, with a ton of new venues. We have some seriously amazing local bands – Palm, Queen of Jeans, Cayetana. It’s still pretty cheap to live in Philly too. Hopefully that doesn’t change anytime soon.
AF: What kind of music did you grow up listening to? Were your roots always fairly rock n’ roll?
MB: I was really into punk growing up, and I lived and breathed by the band Against Me! There were a few DIY all ages venues that I was able to go to throughout high school that instilled a love for shows. But I also really loved classic singer songwriters like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne.
AF: The band’s bio reads “Church Girls is an indie / post-punk group on a quest to tap into listeners’ emotional marrow and explore the ways we work to become better humans a little at a time”. That is quite an artist’s statement. Can you tell us a bit about how the band formed and how that became your vision?
MB: Haha, well I should first say that my friend Kathleen (who has done most of our artwork) wrote our bio. I think it’s pretty accurate, though. I think most of my songs are my way of confronting my own shortcomings, whether it’s a failure to communicate in a relationship, or how my own bad habits get in the way of the person I want to be. Even when the song is told from someone else’s perspective, they all revolve around the same theme of trying to become a better person in spite of our insufficiencies.
AF: The artwork is beautiful. It has a cool, mystical feel to it. Did it take a while to get to that or did the artist come in with the style in mind?
MB: The artwork for Home was done by Marissa Carroll, who also did an amazing job conceptually. She came up with the idea of having an individual illustration for each song on the EP based on the lyrics, so we sent a few ideas back and forth until landing on the final version. We all really love it.
AF: “Brother, the bodies are falling again / the days drag and the sunlight is no one’s friend / I write my life hour to hour, unsorted as ever / but I can’t help but pick you up.” Can you give us the backstory behind “Black Sea”? The lyrics conjured up a lot of imagery for me, especially with your line “the bodies are falling again”.
MB: It’s about watching a close friend go through a tough time, partly by their own doing, and wanting to help them even if you’re not in the best state to give help. I know the language is pretty dramatic, but I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that consequences really can be dire. Things that could pass as cute when we were young aren’t very cute anymore.
AF: Scott Solter (Spoon, Superchunk) worked with you on this EP. What was it like collaborating with him?
MB: Scott is great. We talked beforehand about the sound we were going for and it was clear right away that he really listened. He’s very present in the studio and gives his full attention, and he gives great suggestions without being too overbearing. Plus, he’s hilarious and a great hang. We’re looking forward to going back to record with him in August.
AF: You’re planning on releasing new music later this year. What can we look forward to in terms of themes / soundscapes?
MB: There was even more collaboration on the new stuff – Joey and I were constantly sending each other tracks that we’d rework and send back and forth. We were also listening to the same stuff – Parquet Courts, Interpol, and Television. The themes are similar, but more of an introspective look than an examining of external relationships. We’re really psyched to go back to Scott since we feel our collaborative vision will be even tighter.
AF: Is a tour in the works?
MB: Yep, we have a short tour in August, and a longer one in the fall to support the release. For the fall tour, we’re focusing mostly on DIY venues.
Church Girls’ forthcoming EP Home, recorded with Scott Solter (Spoon, Superchunk), is due out September 7th via Chatterbot Records. Preorder HERE! Want to see Church Girls Live? Check out their August tour dates below!
Tues, Aug 7 – Cambridge, MA @ Lilypad Inman w/ Jacksonville Kid & Stains of a Sunflower
Wed, Aug 8 – Burlington, VT @ Radio Bean
Thurs, Aug 9 – Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church w/ Belle Machine
Fri, Aug 10 – Bethlehem, PA @ Musikfest (Steelstacks)
Sat, Aug 11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Pine Box Rock Shop w/ Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show & Cat Tatt
Ashley Prillaman is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. When she's not living that #FestivalLife, you can find her walking her dogs, listening to This American Life, or chowing down on street tacos. Follow @AshleyPrillaman on Twitter & check out her interview series #LetsTellAStory on her blog www.ashleyprillaman.com.