By Jess Goulart
Photo courtesy of Babewatch.
“The babes are out there,” reads the Facebook cover photo of the surf rock quartet Babewatch.
But if you chat with singer/guitarist Peter Kegler you get the distinct impression that he really couldn’t care less about finding them. For Kegler and his band mates Chase “Cheeto” Eiseman, Eli Lyons, and Callum Beals, making music is about enjoying life, not popularity with the ladies (or anyone else for that matter).
Thus their first EP Guys Hanging Out is a bonhomous tribute to that pleasant state of mind so often associated with the wavy West Coast. Think modern-day Beach Boys mixed up with a slight punk infusion, adding depth to layers of easy-going riffs.
It’s a real fight not to relax into a smile when you throw on tracks like “Island Cats” or “Party Wave”–and these boys aren’t into fighting, so just go with it.
BTR sat down with Kegler to chat about whether that infusion will become more pronounced in albums to come, and exactly where the band got their name.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): Have you four known each other for a while?
Peter Kegler (PK): Yeah, we all went to school in Santa Cruz, which is a beach town in Central California. Me and another guy in the band lived together and then we went on study abroad in Europe, where we met our bass player. We came back and the bass player had a friend that played drums so we formed a band.
BTR: UCSC’s mascot is the Banana Slugs right?
PK: Oh yeah.
BTR: Did being a Banana Slug influence your musical tastes in any way?
PK: [laughs] I don’t know, I don’t know what slug music would be. I think we’re more influenced by Santa Cruz than the slugs, the town has a cool scene and Santa Cruz is where we initially went with the surf vibe, which is the basis for the songs on Guys Hanging Out.
BTR: What was the recording process like for your EP Guys Hanging Out?
PK: Well we’re really bad about taking stuff seriously, the band is all fun and it just so happened we all moved to Oakland and so we kept the band going. We formed in the beginning of 2013 and recorded in 2015, so a lot of our songs on the EP were written a while ago and we’d played them a lot.
We finally got mobilized enough to record with this engineer here in Oakland, Andrew Oswald, who is really awesome and records a bunch of my favorite bands out here. He did the recordings and then we contacted a bunch of labels and this one little one was down to put it out. We don’t put a lot of effort into that kind of stuff so it was kinda like, ’Oh cool, yeah, we did this.’
But now we’re trying to be serious–but not super serious. We’ll record a full length in the fall and maybe go on a big tour. Maybe. You know how it goes.
BTR: You guys have been compared to the Beach Boys and The Ramones, does that resonate with you?
PK: Oh man, I mean I love those bands. Pet Sounds is awesome and the later Beach Boys stuff is even better, when Brian Wilson was going crazy and they were all on a bunch of drugs. The album Surfs Up is one of my favorites. But I don’t know if it inherently influenced our song writing. There [are] bands that we all find common ground liking, but we also like very different things. I like punk music, so it’s awesome people think we sound like The Ramones… I don’t know what it sounds like…
BTR: What’s the writing process like for you guys?
PK: It’s pretty collaborative. A big issue is we’ll write chords and a melody and have a full song with one melodic lyric, but we won’t bother to write full verses for a while. That takes time, but with that kind of stuff I think I do more of the writing and organizing. I don’t want to take all the credit though because we all work together.
BTR: We have to ask, where did the band name come from?
PK: Oh, man, so in Santa Cruz we started as the band West Night Core because there was this weird bus that ran around our campus at night and we would joke that it sounded like a music genre. Then we had so many names for the first four months we were a band, because we just did house shows and DIY gigs for a long time.
Everyone would be hanging out and getting wasted and we’d be called The Fiscal Spliffs or The Cabana Boys or Tony Hawk’s Underground Railroad–really dumb stuff. We went with West Night Core because we have a song titled that, and when we lived in Santa Cruz people got it. Then we moved to Oakland and everyone was like, ‘What’s your name? What does that mean?’
So we chose Babewatch but… we’re not creeps or anything and we’re not misogynists. I have a girlfriend; I respect women. We changed it randomly on Facebook and then afterwards realized once you change a band name once on Facebook you can’t do it again, so now we’re stuck with it! But it’s way more memorable than West Night Core. I just hope it doesn’t mess with too many people because that’s not what we’re going for.
BTR: People should laugh at it, we dig it!
PK: Well I’m glad, I think it’s kinda cool too, but it wasn’t like we were taking drugs in the forest and it CAME to us, ya know, it just sorta happened.
BTR: Are you guys for sure on the full length, and will it build on the surf rock style or deviate from it?
PK: Yeah the full length is for sure. I’m building a studio with a buddy and we’ll probably record parts of it there, so that’s definitely gonna happen.
And I think the vibe for it will always remain fun–again, we’re not super serious guys [laughs]. But it might be a little less surf-y, that might be where our sound changes. It’s hard to say, a lot of our new songs are a bit more on the garage punk or psychedelic side, like our song “Atlas Shroomed,” we kinda went full blown in that direction.
But I guess you’ll have to be the judge!
BTR: What’s the projected date for the full length?
PK: I think we’ll record in the fall and then hopefully have it out on something by December or January. I don’t know, we’ll see. People are slow, especially a bunch of musicians, I didn’t even buy my groceries until I, like, really needed them.