Karla Way of Beaches Interview!

Photo of RRR live on air by Matthew Parsons

Karla Way is the drummer of Melbourne all-girl super group Beaches – who is touring The States in March for SXSW and a bunch of other shows around the country. Her uniquely simple drum patterns are a perfect match for the fuzz and surf drones of the band’s guitarists. As well as being Beaches‘ backbone, Karla has just completed her Honors in Gold and Silver Smithing. We met in her studio after Beaches played the final night of The Tote, which has sadly been shut down due to liquor license expenses.

Photo of Beaches by Emelie Plunkett

Full name: Karla Way

Nickname/pseudonym: KWay

Age: 36

Hometown: Alstonville, NSW

Where do you live now: Melbourne, Australia

Bands you are drumming in currently: Beaches

What you do for a living: Attempting to be a full-time jeweler! Retail job on the side.

Beaches at Curtin Bandroom

Tom Tom Magazine: How did you initially meet the other girls in Beaches?

Karla Way: I guess just from going out and going to gigs and meeting friends of friends – a big network of friends really. The social kind of meeting place was always at gigs, going to shows and seeing friend’s bands. Three of the girls in Beaches play in other bands as well: Love of Diagrams, Panel of Judges, Spider Vomit and Dirtbag.

TTM: When did you start Drumming?

KW: Well it really kind of started with Beaches. I had sort of messed around a little bit years before that with friends in northern New South Wales and when I lived in Vancouver for a little while. I never really pursued it and didn’t think I should be playing drums. But then Beaches just started out of the five of us wanting to do something creative and social together – something productive when we were seeing each other socially and it just seemed like the natural thing, the natural role for me to play. Yeah, so that was two and a half years ago. I’m learning, learning as I go, constantly learning. I’m a pretty rudimentary player. I don’t know the technical side of drumming so much. So I think I need to…I don’t know do I need to learn my para diddles? I’m not sure.

TTM: What happens when you are all in the same room, how do the songs come together?

KW: All of the songs on the first album just evolved out of practicing together. Somebody might bring a little bit of a bass line or a small guitar part and it would just kind of evolve with everyone together, with the exception of one song which Gill wrote entirely and we just learned that. It’s sort of working the same way with the next batch of songs; people will bring little seeds of ideas. We are going to pick our favorite two out of those for a 7’’ to take on tour. We should be able to get them back in time to take them with us when we go to The States.

TTM: Is that on Mistletone as well?

KW: No we are just going to put this one out ourselves. It’s just a really quick decision and we want to just do it and get it out. We are pretty self sufficient in a way: Gill is a graphic designer so she’s going to do all that side of it. I guess Love of Diagrams did it not so long ago, put out their own and it was pretty inexpensive and just a really quick easy process.

Photo by Lauren Bamford

TTM: I noticed you played at least one new song the other night at Ding Dong.

KW: I think we played maybe two, and they are probably the two that are going to be on the 7’’. I think they are the ones that we are happiest with – like hearing back the rough mixes.

TTM: Your debut album came out a bit more than a year ago now. It was produced by Jack Farley. What was he like to work with?

KW: Really good, I don’t really have any other experiences to compare it to but we are all friends with Jack as well. He’s really efficient. He’s got a good way of dealing with people and keeping the ball rolling and morale high. He was really good with suggesting structures sometimes and then definitely with the mixing process and with suggestions of how to get dynamics right. He was really involved.

Beaches @ Meredith. Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

TTM: It must have been good with Mistletone getting involved early on.

KW: Yeah it was amazing, I think they’d heard about us and I think it was probably our second show in a venue that they came along to and then sent us an email the next day or something. It happened really quickly and really early in the piece and it went from there. I think maybe they’d heard about us from one of my housemates, it was really sudden and yeah, great.

TTM: What was the feeling like playing the Tote on its final night on Monday?

KW: We felt really honoured to be asked to play that and it was good, despite how sad the whole event was. There was still a really good vibe, there was a good energy and I think we played well. I was really, really happy to be playing it. And to be playing with all of those kind of established old Aussie rock bands. It was crazy; it was fun to play as well.

TTM: You’re touring The States in March. You must be excited about that?

KW: It’s really exciting. And I think we’ve pretty much got everything locked in. I think there were a few holes but the people we have been speaking to or writing to over there have been very helpful.

Photo by Lauren Bamford

TTM: Who are some of the bands you’ll be playing with?

KW: That’s sort of been out of our hands in a couple of places. But in San Francisco Kelly Stolz helped us organize a show and maybe Sunny and the Sunsets (will play). In New York I think we are playing with Partyline for one show, and another with a band called Total Slacker, who are kind of friends of friends of someone who we were recommended to get in touch with to organize stuff. All of that kind of stuff is still falling into place as well. We kind of targeted venues first and then tried to get line-ups happening from that point. And then there’s SXSW. There are still a few things hanging in the balance in terms of the tour.

TTM: Has your album been distributed in US?

KW: No. So we are just going to take a whole bunch of stuff over with us as well and I guess we are relying on the Internet to get the word out.

Photo by Patrick Cox

TTM: Do you think that making jewelery has any effect on your drumming?

KW: It’s a nice balance I think because playing music is more of a collaborative kind of experience and making jewelery is pretty solitary, so it’s nice in that way. I guess the only physical kind of connection might have been when I was making bigger vessels at Uni and doing a lot of hammering (laughs) that probably built up some arm muscles and some precision or something. They are just two completely different things, but I think they complement each other nicely.

TTM: You recently made the necklace for Peaches to wear in the film clip for Mommy Complex, how did that come about?

KW: A local music video producer Anton Nguyen. We did the NEIS course together, which is basically the Australian government helping set up small businesses. I think his connection was Vice Cooler – Hawnay Troof hooked Anton up with Peaches and he had four days to style it and get everything together. So he gave me a call and thought what I do would work so I pretty much raided my draws for anything I had and made that piece in a short period of time, It was really fun.

TTM: It’s great, really big as well isn’t it?

KW: It’s massive; I’ve got it (goes over to her drawers to get the piece out).

TTM: And just a just final question, do you have any advice for new drummers?

KW: I am one, I don’t know, just do it. I guess friends are the best tool, because they are supportive and it’s the most comfortable environment to learn in I think & be able to make mistakes.


Beaches US Tour

9 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Sunset Tavern Seattle, Washington
10 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Holocene Portland, Oregon
12 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Hemlock Tavern San Fransisco, California
13 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Amnesia San Fransisco, California
14 Mar 2010 8:00 P
TBC Los Angeles, California
17 Mar 2010 8:00 P
SXSW Austin, Texas
17 Mar 2010 8:00 P
SXSW Austin, Texas
18 Mar 2010 8:00 P
SXSW Austin, Texas
19 Mar 2010 8:00 P
SXSW Austin, Texas
20 Mar 2010 8:00 P
SXSW Austin, Texas
25 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Bellhouse New York, New York
26 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Cameo Brooklyn, New York
27 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Death By Audio Brooklyn, New York
31 Mar 2010 8:00 P
Black Cat Washington DC

Interview by: Samuel Miers

Edited by: Sarah McVeigh

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  1. Just saw them last night at the Bellhouse…amazing show! Awesome vibe…made me wish summer would hurry up so I can listen to Beaches on my roof and drink beer. 😉

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