Easy Beach didn’t intend to share a song title with Selena Gomez.
The Detroit emo-punk rock trio of Ian Cruz (guitar, vocals), Bradley “Beau” Stone (bass, backing vocals) and Sean Tarolli (drums, backing vocals) originally called their latest single “Forget Forever,” but quickly learned the track duplicated the name of the pop singer’s 2013 song.
“It became a joke at practice to call the song ‘Selena Gomez,’ and it stuck. The song took a couple practices to finish; it’s probably the only song we have that took less than a month to write. The song is about giving up my dog for someone who didn’t love me,” Cruz said.
Officially called “Selena Gomez (Took the Name of This Song),” the Easy Beach track fuses buzzy, roaring guitars, clobbering drums and propulsive bass into a two-minute, rage-filled banger in response to losing a best friend. Cruz sadly reflects, “You left last holiday/Without you I’m all dead/Now I can’t see my friend/Without him ever again.”
“I was doing some workshopping with Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings when I was writing this song, and he had a few ideas for the guitar parts that I used – particularly the lead guitar in the second chorus,” said Cruz, who co-produced the track with Tyler Floyd.
“Selena Gomez” also features a dark, gritty basement jam video filmed by Mark Larsen of Static Screen Productions. Easy Beach cathartically processes their frustration while rehearsing, hanging out and eating pizza together.
“When I saw Mark’s video for ERODERS’ ‘Lose My Mind,’ I knew I wanted to do a video with him. Originally, the video was going to be us playing at a house party, but that’s exactly what the ERODERS video was, and Mark didn’t want to make the same video again,” Cruz said.
“He came to us with the idea of doing a video reminiscent of old emo/punk videos where the band is playing in a basement and just hanging out doing weird stuff. The video is just a peak into a regular practice for us, except we don’t usually eat pizza. It was shot in April at Bradley’s house/practice space.”
Blurry to Mantra
Along with “Selena Gomez,” Easy Beach released the chaotic, hard-hitting “Blurry,” which laments the struggles of someone taking too much acid. Backed by thumping drums, frenzied electric guitars and bouncy bass, Cruz reveals, “Spider trails/In my eyes/Allah talks to me at night/Tripping too hard/Left my face on the floor/I don’t need it anymore/Wasted, passed out.”
“‘Blurry’ is the first song I wrote for Easy Beach next to ‘Boxes.’ It started with playing along to some Algernon Cadwallader songs, and I thought it would be cool to write a mathy type of jam with Midwest emo vibes,” he said.
“There are probably four different versions of this song somewhere on my computer with different lyrics, different chord progressions and completely different vibes like a reggae version. The song didn’t make it onto Mantra because I knew I wanted to save it for something special.”
Cruz initially discovered something special about emo-punk music while growing up downriver. His father bought Blink-182’s eponymous 1999 album, Enema of the State, and played it every day for Cruz. By age eight, Cruz started playing a small acoustic guitar and later graduated to a Fender Strat.
In 2009, he formed a precursory post-hardcore project called Penpals with the President with Tarolli and sought creative inspiration from At the Drive-In. When Penpals split, Cruz started writing solo demos, but quickly shelved the music after being told he was a “terrible singer.” By 2020, he returned to music and formed Easy Beach with Tarolli and Stone.
“I had to learn how to use my voice and write songs that complemented the sound. Around the time the band started, I had been recently divorced and wanted to get back to doing what I love. Music had always been my therapy, my journaling, my outlet,” said Cruz, who took the band’s name from a message scrawled on a whiteboard.
“I looked around for a year to find the right people to be in the band. I must have gone through three drummers and at least a dozen bass players until Bradley came along. Sean was living in Salt Lake City when the first Easy Beach demos were recorded. I joked that he moved back to just be in the band, but that’s only part of the story.”
On Christmas Day 2020, Cruz released Easy Beach’s thoughtful, powerhouse debut EP, Mantra, which openly chronicles the pain and anger from a past relationship and internal struggles. He teamed up with Stone, Tarolli and Jake O’Shaughnessy to record the five-track project over a three-month period.
“I think Mantra was inspired partly from my divorce, but mostly from dealing with people I felt I had let take advantage of me. Jay (an ex-drummer) and I had rented a practice space for several months while the pandemic was unfolding. We would lock ourselves up for hours, pounding away at these songs and arguing over how the music should be played,” Cruz said.
“The record took three months to record because it was accidentally deleted and Jay left the band. At that point, Jake stepped in and told me to choose the five best songs to record. That’s how it became an EP, and we kept a couple of the other tracks to put on our next record.”
Two standout Mantra tracks include the ferocious, infuriated “Pretty Alright” and the crunchy, combustible “Doormat” as rowdy electric guitars, pulsating bass and walloping drums instantly provide an outpour of emotional release.
“‘Pretty Alright’ is about lying to yourself just to get through the day, and ‘Doormat’ is about being used. They’re my favorite songs from Mantra because they’re ridiculously fun to play live. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they like ‘Doormat’ the most, too,” Cruz said.
With a debut EP and two new singles under their belt, Cruz plans to release new Easy Beach material soon and gear up for live shows this summer.
“We want to finish writing our album; we have nine songs planned and about four of them are demoed and ready to go. The plan for now is to play enough shows to pay for studio time and hopefully have the record out by winter or spring. We just need more shows!” Cruz said.