A few days before embarking on an extensive tour supporting their sublime album, Bloom, Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally sat down at their Fells Point rehearsal space and talked about life on the road. They played nearly 200 shows after Teen Dream’s release, so I figured they might be a bit weary and jaded about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’d just finished packing up the industrial looking stage set they designed and built for the tour and seemed excited to get started. The band hasn't yet confirmed a Baltimore date, but you can catch them on David Letterman this Friday night. And you can read about Beach House in our June issue.
Victoria Legrand: It’s not hard to enjoy yourself on tour, because every night is different. Whether it’s a place with 200 capacity or 1,200. We’re not committed to just playing huge venues, and we actually prefer club shows where you can have 500 to 1,000 people.
Alex Scally: We did a tour last year that was bigger, as support, and we didn’t like it at all. I can see how a big band would not have any fun touring. But on our tours, we constantly connect to the people we’re meeting, the towns we’re in, the stores along the way, the roads.
VL: When you’re playing Ultra Ice Arena in Toronto, that’s probably isn’t any fun at all. When you fly in and out of places, you lose that personal element.
AS: Flying is the worst.
VL: But we’ve done it. We’ve done a little bit of everything, so we know what we prefer and what’s best for our soul.
AS: At the end of our last tour, every one thought we should go out again because Teen Dream was still doing well. Sub Pop wanted to do ads, we said, “Stop, stop.” We didn’t want to tour behind that album for three years. We wanted to do it for one year, so we cut if off.
VL: We didn’t want to wear out that album, or wear out ourselves.
JL: How has your audience changed over the years?
AS: We see all kinds of people at our shows. And when people come up and comment, it’s always different. We don’t understand any of how it works.
VL: It’s not our duty to understand it, because we’re inside of it. It has effects beyond our vision and that’s another life form of what you do.
AS: We definitely see the young girls. And there are couples. There’s always at least one couple making out in every crowd. Sometimes, it’s crazy and there’s tons of it.
VL: I’ll see people who are very emotional, and they’ve obviously having a very visceral and solitary moment with the music. It’s something I’m very intrigued by—you go to a show with your friends, but you have a complete experience yourself. You’re in a crowd of people, but you’re having a very intimate experience yourself. That’s the kind of concertgoer I’d want to be. If I were going to see My Bloody Valentine, it would be experiencing it there, in my own brain, even though I’m physically standing with a crowd of people.
JL: You’ve played just about every major festival in the world and a bunch of TV shows. Any particular favorites?
VL: I don’t really like nostalgia. I try to prevent opening those floodgates. That can take away from the relevance of now, or induce some kind of self-pity that things used to be better. But we’ve had so many moments that we treasure.
AS: Even if we don’t perform well, I cherish the venue, the crowd, the town. We had to learn that the big tours are stupid, but it was good to learn that bigger isn’t better.
VL: It’s all big on your own terms. You build your own path. We try to be honest with ourselves, and I think that resonates with people. We aren’t trying to take unnatural leaps.
AS: The best thing is how unpredictable things are. I remember we were booked in Pontiac, Michigan, and they moved the show to a larger venue. We didn’t know what would happen, but 700 people showed up. It was the only Beach House show where people crowd surfed. You might not think, “Wow, we’re going to Pontiac, Michigan, and it’s going to be the best show ever.” But that kind of thing happens constantly.
VL: Every night is a different journey.