Call Beach the Whale anything, just don’t call them hardcore

If you have a chance to see Bangor band Beach the Whale live, there’s a high likelihood you’ll have two very different reactions to their music. First, you’ll hear the aggressive riffage of guitarists Eric Reynolds and Wayne Howe, and think, “Oh, they’re a hardcore, screamo kind of band.” Then you’ll hear the dual vocal attack of Anthony Pelkey and bassist Gyasi Davis, the funky drumming of Kyle Harriman and the trumpet playing – yes, trumpet – of T.J. Pratt, and think, ‘Oh, apparently they are not.” And then Reynolds and Howe will turn off the histrionics and turn on the more complex guitar work, and they’ll be another band entirely.

Breaking the mold was the whole idea, when the six musicians formed Beach the Whale a little over two years ago. Though they’re readying a full length album for release in January, and they’re busy playing shows all over Maine and New England, their journey as a band has taken a number of detours – most notably with a long hiatus in 2011 in which everyone tried new musical things, before deciding to give it another shot.

“We had originally planned on having a heavier style, [but] after juggling with a few ideas, and guitar players, we decided to stray from the norm and wrote more mature music. After a year or so of playing shows and recording an album we went on a hiatus to pursue other musical endeavors,” said Gyasi Davis. “We reemerged in 2012 with a solid foundation and new ideas. Our main goal is to be that younger generation that can reach out to all generations.”

A sense of Beach the Whale’s stylistic diversity can be heard in the handful of songs already up online for fans to listen to. “Band of Thieves” and “Bobatypus Lake” bring to mind bands like Faith No More or the Deftones, thanks to Pelkey’s impassioned vocals and the mixture of heavy riffage and jazz-inspired breaks from guitarists Reynolds and Howe. Add Pratt’s trumpet lines, and you have the heavier band of the future – one that can’t be put into one genre or another.

“We would never classify ourselves as a ‘heavy’ band, quite the contrary actually,” said Davis, a bass player more inclined towards funk and jazz-influenced lines, rather than straight-ahead hardcore style playing. “We like to consider our songs jammy even groovy at times, but always raw and never forced. We’re not trying to fit a mold. We think this is our unique edge, trying to think outside the box, taking bits and pieces from all styles of music and compiling it to make it tasteful, and catchy music.”

As veterans of Maine’s hardcore and punk scene – Pelkey was the former frontman for popular bands Legend Has It and Wolves Among Sleep – the members of Beach the Whale have seen a lot in their combined year. As always, they agree that the key to a healthy music scene is space to play, space to play, space to play.

“The music scene is constantly changing in our area, so saying that at any one time that the scene was better, or looking at any particular time that time the scene was at a ‘low point’ is unrealistic,” said Davis. “The scene is always at its strongest when there are places to play.”

Prominent sets at the KahBang Festival in Bangor last summer, as well as tour of the East Coast in August, have solidified the band and raised its profile. Beach the Whale’s next show is set for Dec. 27 at Studio 250 in Portland, and they’re busy booking shows for January, around the release of the new album, which Pelkey said is titled “The Land That Time Forgot.” For more information, like the band on Facebook.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.