If you are willing to go find it, there is a compelling case to be made that the rock and roll scene in NJ is as strong as it has ever been. While the genre may be far from its peak popularity, there seems to be an endless supply of bands making amazing tunes of every different shape and sound across the Garden State. For a while I wondered how Jersey was producing so many talented musicians, before quickly realizing that a lot of them are pulling double, triple, hell sometimes even quadruple duty. Beauty’s members for example play in a total of five other bands when not shredding with one another, though none sound anything like the band that brings them together. Beauty’s 2020 self-titled debut felt more like a burned cassette from the 70s a cool uncle had passed me than like any of the basement bashing DIY bands they play in otherwise; Beauty are one of the only bands that’d feel at home at both Fest and on American Bandstand. With their new single “Jimmy Jet” Beauty showed once again that they’re the only band in the Garden State who might play the Meatlocker who really sounds like they should be on Q104.3.
Lead singer Deaglan Howlett mentioned to me that the one aspect of 60s and 70s era bands that Beauty feels particularly inspired by is their physical cohesiveness. You knew the Ramones were a unit the second they walked in the room, their look was unmistakable. The Beauty boys have been palling around in white t-shirts tucked into white jeans, and when I close my eyes I can imagine the three of them jamming away to “Jimmy Jet” in their matching get ups on Letterman through a CRT TV, singing away that “Rock and roll is really here to staaaay”. It really does feel like the kinda song you’d flip on the TV and hear a band playing a few decades ago though, fit with a soaring saccharine hook that’ll leave you “ooooOOOOoooo”-ing along by the second time the chorus comes along. Also holy shit that guitar solo! What a kickass lil rip that is. Why don’t people do guitar solos anymore??? It makes the bridge that comes after the solo even more kick ass and the maaaasive chorus that closes out the song even more monumental. I don’t doubt that Deagan, Nic, and Owen had this exact conversation at band practice one day, and I couldn’t be happier that they did.
I had the chance to quickly chat with Beauty about their band, their unique sound, and what makes New Jersey so special. Be on the lookout for more music from this great group soon!
Beauty is both a very simple and complex concept. What does the band name Beauty mean to you? What do you want the name Beauty to invoke in listeners?
Deaglan: To me the name promotes positivity and love. I’d like listeners to hear our music and be reminded of things they dig. For us it’s loud guitars and drums, but there’s beauty everywhere, you know?
Nic: From the start we wanted to emphasize the mutualism between us and the people we share spaces with. People who come out to shows, photographers, designers – if we’re sharing a space, you are a part of Beauty. Exchanging ideas and feeding off of each other’s energy is a huge aspect of the Beauty ethos. We wanna continue exploring different ways to accentuate that.
Owen: Beauty is, to me, a kaleidoscopic sort of entity. By definition, beauty is a combination of pleasing qualities to the senses. I’d like to think we encapsulate that not only with the music we make but also with what we wear onstage, different merch/album art designs, and the show experience.
Is Jimmy Jet a real person? If not, who is the imagined Jimmy Jet?
Nic: The name “Jimmy Jet” was lifted from the title of a poem by Shel Silverstein. I’ve always dug his work. So for me, Jimmy isn’t a real person- maybe to Silverstein he is. I just like how the name sounded. The alliteration. There’s a nice rhythm to it. Like “Jimmy Jazz” by The Clash.
The song was inspired by the kind of starry-eyed fascination with life that is inherent in children. When a plane flies by overhead, Jimmy Jet waves to it because he’s sure that somebody in it is waving back. When he hears the opening snare drum hits of “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, he knows that one day he’ll be a rock n’ roll star. We have faith in him!
This song as with much of your catalogue has a distinct retro feel, almost sounding like a long lost song from the sixties. What inspires you about older rock bands? What about Beauty do you think is uniquely modern?
Deaglan: When I think of older bands in general I see them as much more of a group, especially in the 60’s. The Kinks and Beatles with their matching suits, similar haircuts, a real group “identity”, Ramones hitting that again in the 70’s with their jackets and white guitars. It’s nothing new but something that really excites me. With Beauty we try to reinvoke some old Rock and Roll spirit with a uniform look that kind of removes us as individuals to focus on the band as a whole, most importantly the music. I’d like to think our affection for the music and style of the 60/70’s comes through musically and visually, just louder.
New Jersey is in the midst of an indie rock boom right now with so many amazing bands coming out of the Garden State. How does being in NJ shape your sound? Who are some Garden State favorites, old and new, who inspire you?
Owen: We’re lucky because we don’t have to look very hard or go very far to find other bands to draw inspiration from. Being in NJ means we’re constantly surrounded by a breadth of local music, and there’s really always something going on. It helps that we get to be so immersed in the scenes in Asbury Park and New Brunswick.
I’d say that it shapes our sound in the sense that we look at what our friends in other bands in the area are doing. It’s really fun to hear what they put out, and it’s part of what inspires us not just musically but on every creative front, really. Obviously being in NJ it’s hard to avoid the Springsteen discourse, and he’s a favorite of ours. A lot of locals…stillhungry and Well Wisher are personal favorites of mine, as well as bands we’ve played with like Magic Ghrelin, Nylon, Lightheaded, there’s really so much good NJ music to choose from.
I’d also like to give a shout to other bands we play in, because I think there’s a nice creative cycle there that helps us round out our own sound as well as our musical experience – Nic with Have a Good Season, Deaglan with Vansaders and Dex, and me with Little Hag and Smooch.
What can we expect from Beauty coming down the pike? Do you have more new music on the horizon?
Nic: We have so many ideas floating around. Hopefully 2022 is the year to get them all out! All I know for sure is that we put a lot of love into “Jimmy Jet” and the next single we have planned. Just be sure to play them loud.