Catch Beach Tiger at 7 PM Thursday at the SceneSC Showcase on the WLTX Stage at the SC State Fair. Free admission to Fair with college ID.
Some bands change sounds completely over the course of their career, others get trapped in a style and have trouble escaping the confines of a name. For Taylor McCleskey, Eric Mixon, and Blake Shorter the last four years have brought plenty of life changes, from graduating from Clemson and moving to Charleston, having a close friend and bandmate in Ryan Williams amicably leave the band, and frontman McCleskey recently getting married, these are the types of things that often break up bands, but that’s not the case for Beach Tiger. Formerly known as the The Tarlatans, the decision to change their name wasn’t an easy one, and in fact weighed on them over the last year as they recorded demos and experimented with new sounds much different than their roots-rock and folk beginnings.
In March Beach Tiger gave us a glimpse of the new sound with their song on our 2015 Sampler. “Here” is heavy on effects and keys, with guitars used much more for accent than rhythm, that song opened up a whole new world for them sonically. Recorded in their adopted hometown of Charleston, Beach Tiger went in the studio with Wolfgang Zimmerman (Brave Baby, Susto, ET Anderson) where Zimmerman pushed them to find their new sound.
“Wolfgang actually was the main catalyst for the creation of Beach Tiger.” said McCleskey via email. “While we were still technically The Tarlatans I remember bringing in new demos to him (that would eventually become Beach Tiger songs) and complaining about the fact that although I love them I knew they would never exist outside of my bedroom studio because they were not right for The Tarlatans. Finally he looked at me and said (I’m paraphrasing), “Dude, just start a new project and relax.” So we did.”
With Zimmerman’s encouragement the band changed up their live setup, played some shows and ended up reaching out to an old friend in Kyle Patrick, a Berklee School of Music student who left in his third year to join The Click Five as their lead singer, to record “Just Woke Up” heard here.
“We (Patrick and McCleskey) met on the lacrosse team and he is one of the main reasons I play music today. He’s long been my musical mentor. Working with Kyle on our debut single “Just Woke Up” has been nothing short of enlightening. He is on a whole different level. He is one of the most talented, creative, skilled, focused producers we have had the pleasure of working with. He’s also extremely patient – we have definitely tested that. We as a new band have had extreme moments of insecurity and doubt that he has had to intervene on, and more than a time or two he has had to talk us off a ledge.”
Beach Tiger have found new life and excitement in their new name and sound, opening doors previously closed off and fitting in with a sound fitting of their Charleston surroundings. Now they’re starting over, but with a strong base support of fans and the wealth of knowledge they learned while they were The Tarlatans. It helps that the many of their fellow South Carolina bands are making moves, and it’s a scene they’re proud to be a part of.
“I believe South Carolina as a whole is becoming a musical force. I’ve often toyed with the idea of persuading the band to relocate somewhere else to foster more industry connections but at the same time there really is a magic down here right now that we would be foolish to abandon.”
McCleskey knows they’re a part of that magic.