With The Beaches, two halves make a whole.
As lead singer and bass player Jordan Miller explains it, the project up for a Juno, “Sisters Not Twins (The Professional Lovers Album)” is comprised of two EPs … 2019’s “The Professional” and 2021’s “Future Lovers.”
“Albums today have such a short shelf life, because of the way streaming and TikTok work, so what you’re discovering — and not necessarily as big in rock, but more in hip-hop or pop — is that people are releasing their albums in segments,” explained Miller over Zoom recently. “So that was our original plan: we were going to cut our album in half and release it as two EPs and then add some extra songs and that would be the full album.
“We’d released the first half of it the year before COVID and then, when COVID happened we waited to release the second part of it and then … it was a longer process. COVID definitely stumped the whole process, but I guess it gave us some time to really let our singles shine, rather than put everything out at once.”
Those singles — including “Snake Tongue,” “Fascination” and “Lame” from “The Professional” — allowed The Beaches a little more latitude to further cement their fan base and find success with “Future Lovers’” “Let Go” and “Blow Up.”
“We had an opportunity to have a number of singles that did really well due to sort of spacing them out sporadically,” said Miller, speaking on behalf of her guitarist sister Kylie, keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel. “But we had written all the songs as a full album, so it was just us sitting around for a long time. It was a little annoying, but what can you do?”
The pandemic has already stymied a couple of scheduled performances by the quartet at History, (those shows are re-scheduled for Aug. 5 and 6) but it’s allowed Miller some time to hone her writing skills. Now that her band is on the cusp of celebrating its first decade in existence, Jordan Miller says she’s becoming more fearless in tackling riskier subject matter.
“If you’re comfortable in anything in regards to art, you’re kind of raising the stakes, you should always be trying to beat yourself and I think you should always be a little scared and should always love to take risks,” she says. “You continuously mature if you’re doing your job correctly. But I’m pretty fearless in terms of lyrics. I definitely say more stuff now that I wouldn’t have put into songs 10 years ago.”
Currently, Miller is contemplating writing an album exploring cults, “but most of the time when I’m writing a song I look at experiences that I’ve had pretty recently — and those sort of make the best songs. I’ll be writing about being frustrated that I can’t poo on my tour bus, or the state of the world. I wanted to write a song about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship at one point because I was watching a lot of that stuff on the news. I don’t know why it’s being broadcast everywhere. It’s like two angry rich people yelling at each other.”
Lately, she’s being pushed to greatness by Irish producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, whose most notable credits include U2 (”How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,” “Songs Of Experience”), R.E.M. (“Accelerate,” “Collapse Into Now”) and Taylor Swift (“Red.”)
She took his advice to heart for “Future Lovers” and “Want What You Got.”
“‘Want What You Got’ was a little more difficult to write,” Miller admits. “That one was tricky: I started out writing a song called ‘Everybody Loves Complaining’ and I took it to my producer and he said, ‘It just seems like you’re whining. Everybody does love complaining and so do you, but you should be more honest and truthful and look at yourself in a more introspective way — and to really dig into being jealous and maybe talk about these things you don’t like about yourself.’
“And I kind of had to write the song about five times that day until I got the right sentiment and the right tongue-in-cheek, joke, also taking yourself too seriously out of that. Spending a lot of time on Instagram just writing down what I was jealous of. But I’m really proud of that song — I think it’s one of the better songs I’ve ever written and all my girlfriends really like that because it’s very relatable.”
Three minute gems like “Snake Tongue,” a story about lewd men; the riff-ripper calamity of debauched youth in “Bad Behaviour” and the restless anti-boredom anthem “Blow Up” suggest that The Beaches are on the verge of something much bigger.
And if they don’t get there on raw talent, they certainly should by osmosis: from the fact that their debut Island Records album “Late Show” was produced by Metric’s Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw; that Elton John loved their hit “T-Shirt” so much he heavily promoted them on his Rocket Hour radio show for Apple Music and that the last time The Rolling Stones played Canada, in 2019 at Burl’s Creek, The Beaches were selected as one of the British superstars’ opening acts — generates a type of buzz that most bands only fantasize about.
“Sometimes it’s bewildering, the amount of opportunities that we’ve had,” said Miller, who says she received “two kisses on the cheek” when she met rock legend Mick Jagger at the gig.
“I still can’t believe that we opened for The Rolling Stones — that’s like a ‘pinch-me’ moment. It’s crazy.”
As their rocket continues to ascend — they’ve also opened for Foo Fighters — Miller is concerned about being caught in the trappings of fame to the point where it might corrupt The Beaches’ artistry.
“I see a lot of artists gain a certain amount of success and fame and wealth where they lose touch with normal people and normal stuff and their art doesn’t feel the same anymore — it loses something.
“I guess everybody wants to be successful but I do worry about that. I think that’s what makes a really good songwriter — just relatability and speaking honestly. It’s kind of hard to relate to people that are that successful and wealthy.”
That said, Miller says she wishes her band would be recognized for their high performance standard.
“I know we’re a little bit niche, but I hope one day people will remember us and think wow, ‘theirs is one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen’”
Speaking of which, Miller hopes that when people hear The Beaches, they don’t necessarily think about gender.
“We went into it just wanting to be in a rock band. We didn’t get into it because we wanted to be a woman rock band.”
She attributes The Beaches’ success as being united in their dreams and aspirations.
“We’re very lucky that we’re all very straightforward and clear about the kind of music we want to make and the kind of art that we want to produce and that we’re all on the same page.
“There’s just no ego — we are all in it for the same goal and we’re looking to succeed and we know we all need each other to do that. Every once in a while, we’ll get on each other’s nerves, but for the most part, we get on very, very well and we’re all best friends with each other.”
With one Juno under their belt for Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2018, The Beaches are hoping for the best when the first of the awards are presented Saturday.
Nominated for Rock Album of the Year, along with Arkells, Black Pistol Fire, The Blue Stones and The Dirty Nil, the band won’t be in Toronto if their names are called because they kicked off their long-postponed tour in Montreal last week.
“We’ll be celebrating whoever wins in Guelph,’” Miller promises. “But the last time (we won) was quite rad. It was super rowdy. We were thoroughly inebriated. I think we definitely accidentally bumped into Arcade Fire, and we were absolutely trashed. It was funny.”
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