Here’s the thing: Charms, the new Muscle Beach album put out by Sailor Records — you know, the one the Denver band is releasing with a big, glorious, 3-D spectacle at the hi-dive on October 12? — yeah, it’s already out.
“It was an accident,” says frontman Justin Sanderson. “It’s kind of a funny story. Last time, we put everything out digitally the day of our vinyl release.”
“I’ll set the scene,” begins bass player Derek Arrieta. “We finished the record last year. We wanted to slate it to be a summer release.”
“And August 30 was going to be the date,” puts in Sanderson.
“And then we had a show offer, something we couldn’t pass up," continues Arrieta. "And so that had us reschedule our release for a later date.”
The show in question was Golden Haze Fest, which took place over two days at the end of August at Golden's Buffalo Rose and included more than a dozen local and national sludge, metal and doom acts. It was the perfect lineup for a frenetic, post-punk band like Muscle Beach, and the group was happy to push the release date to accommodate it. But on the day of the show, the bandmates' phones started buzzing.
“A few of our friends texted us, like, ‘The new album rules!'" says Arrieta.
“We had it set up digitally to drop,” explains Sanderson. “We set it up months prior on the 30th. I said, ‘Wait, wait! We forgot to change it!'”
“It’s like, ‘Make an emergency announcement at the show that the album’s out!'” says Arrieta.
The bandmates didn’t waste a lot of time lamenting the mistake. Instead, they played the gig, had a good laugh with the audience, and started devising ways to make the actual album-release show unforgettable.
“It worked out perfectly,” says Sanderson. “This was a beautiful way, because people get to listen to it prior to the show, get more amped on it. We’ve been playing some of [the songs] live, so people who have been coming to our shows probably will recognize them.”
One of those songs is the title track off the new album, a down-tempo slow burner that comes right at the end of the record. It was actually the first song Muscle Beach wrote for the new project, but it took some tinkering to get just right.
“Basically, [Sanderson] came prepared with the opening riff, and we just locked ourselves in our practice space,” says Arrieta. “We spent a lot of hours in there.”
“The jam part — we haven’t really done a lot of that, especially with no vocals,” adds Sanderson. “It just felt good.”
But in characteristic Muscle Beach style, the song eventually wends its way back to a chaotic climax, thanks to drummer Roy Jones.
“The way it ends, that pattern, kind of heavy and crazy, was something that Derek and Roy had come up with,” says Sanderson. “Roy had been begging to use that beat, so we wrote the ending with that in mind, and that closed it out.”
“It went through lots of different permutations for that one,” adds Arrieta. “But I think once we found the one we ended up using, it was like, ‘Dude, this is fucking perfect.’”
After laboring over Charms for the better part of three years, the band was understandably eager to make the record-release show something special.
“We just wanted to go big with this release,” says Arrieta. “This album’s been a long time coming. We haven’t put one out since the end of 2015. We just wanted to see — what kind of surprises can we offer people who are stoked to check it out?”
The bandmates called Sanderson’s cousin, a visual artist who goes by the name Bydeadface, to help them realize one of their ideas to make the show spectacular.
“I reached out to him and was like, ‘Do you think it would be possible to make a video playing behind us with 3-D elements?’ And he’s like, ‘Absolutely,’” says Sanderson. “And I said, ‘Do you think we could make 3-D glasses to go with it?’ And he said, ‘Of course.’”
“He’s kind of a genius,” notes Arrieta.
“He mocked this up,” says Sanderson, showing off a pair of the 3-D glasses, “and I was like, ‘Done. Perfect.’ It has the album title on there, the day of the show, everything.”
Sanderson says anyone who buys a record at the show will get a pair of the special 3-D glasses, along with a Bydeadface poster inspired by the Muscle Beach song “When Horns Grow Teeth.” It ties in nicely with the album art, which was drawn by Abe Brennan of the Denver band Joy Subtraction.
“We’ve had a lot of people collaborate with us on this release,” says Arrieta. “I think, visually, if you see that on a shelf, you’ll know it’s us.”
As important as the aesthetics are, Arrieta and Sanderson say throwing a party that people will enjoy is what the record release is all about.
“The music we take very seriously,” says Arrieta. "But ourselves? Not so much.”
“We just want to have fun, and want our friends to have fun, too, or anyone else that comes to our shows,” adds Sanderson. “The vinyl release in itself is the show, right? You’re releasing a record. But it’s like, that’s just what everybody does. I mean, why not make it something fun like this, to get people stoked?”
Muscle Beach celebrates the release of Charms at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 12, at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway. Tickets are $10 and available at hi-dive.com.
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