The phrase “beach day” denotes not so much an event, as in a way to spend the afternoon, as it does a warm, fuzzy feeling. There are words in other languages to describe that blissful sleepiness you get after a day at the shore (or so I’ve been told). The rosy-cheeked, languid haze that tends to affect the rest of the day, it’s one of the easiest ways to feel at least a little high, sans substances.
Without overstatement, Beach Day the band — via sweetish harmonies and a knack for channeling the best parts of ’60s pop — have the same effect. A self-identified garage band, they’re better described as a trio of love children parented by the Beach Boys, the Supremes, and every band on the Surf Bunnies & Hot Rod Honeys comp; it is hard not to feel happy when you hear them. Guitarist/vocalist/frontwoman Kimmy Drake, a Hollywood local, has loved vintage music and bygone eras since childhood. “The only station I listened to growing up was Majic 102.7 [South Florida’s oldies radio station],” she says. “I know that’s cheesy, but there was no other station I wanted to listen to.”
In a sea of dude-centric bands, which dominate the garage scene here, playing the same venues, Beach Day are girl-fronted, singing lines like “all I want is boys, all I need is boys” (in the appropriately titled “Boys”). Initially a duo featuring Drake and drummer Skyler Black, recruiting Natalie Smallish on bass was natural, expected even, considering their history and friendship. “We’ve known Natalie for a long time,” says Drake. “The three of us were all in another band for a couple years. So we’ve all known each other, toured together, played together.” (As for that old band: “We don’t really want to talk about it. Let’s just call it The Three Musketeers!”)
Beach Day’s feminine dynamic has been unique: “There are hardly any girls around here that are into playing electric guitar,” Drake says, “or that want to play garage music. I don’t really know many, at least. When we play shows, we’re normally the only girls on the line-up.” But this hasn’t proven to be a difficult difference, even in a mess of the aforementioned boys. “The sound guys sometimes treat you a little bit differently. It at least feels that way. But then I go up to them and I’m like, ‘This is exactly what I want.’ ”
While girl power isn’t a message they intend to spread deliberately, it’s espoused nevertheless by virtue of their existence — they just live it, kind of like the girls of Surf Bunnies. Beach Day are instead good at promoting the sentiments of the genres they love most: that music is still best store-bought and heard on vinyl. “It’s awesome to go and buy records on Record Store Day,” says Drake. “I think that’s so important. To me, putting on a record makes you actually sit down and listen. It’s different than putting a playlist on an iPod and just doing stuff. You can’t put your arms around an MP3.”
Beach Day will head to Los Angeles after Record Store Day to finish recording their album and to play at Orange County-based label and shop Burger Records. The attention they’ve received so quickly is well-deserved and a long time coming. “We’ve been together in other bands for so long,” says Drake. “All three of us live together in a house. It feels like a family. I’ve been in other bands, and it’s fun, but sometimes it feels like a business deal. It doesn’t feel like you’re taking on the world with your best friends, and that’s how I feel in this band.”
Beach Day. With Lil’ Daggers, Suede Dudes, Loud Valley, and the Baron Sisters. Noon Saturday, April 21 at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free; all ages. Call 954-762-9488, or visit radio-active-records.com.