TORONTO — Fresh off their first nationwide headlining tour, all-female rock band the Beaches have tales to tell.
But first they need to determine which ones will return to haunt them.
Guitarist Kylie Miller starts recalling one experience before her bandmates stop her.
“No wait, don’t say it,” warns drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel. “Don’t make it a thing.”
“But it’s kind of funny,” Miller responds with a smirk.
Turns out the story involves one of their lyrics that mentions Smarties. Fans have recently taken to throwing the candy-coated treat on the stage when the Beaches hit that song in their set.
The band supposes the gesture is one of appreciation, but it can also be painful.
Miller was pegged off the head at a recent Ottawa show. She worries that by mentioning the experience it’ll start to happen more often. But as they talk, it becomes clear that Smarties are probably the least of their worries as women on the touring circuit.
After winning this year’s Juno Award for breakthrough group, the Beaches were thrust into a national spotlight, helped by their punchy singles “Gold” and “Money.” The newfound popularity drew the musicians — all in their early twenties — into some uncomfortable situations.
“There was that dude,” keyboardist Leandra Earl recalls, ”who was like, ‘I don’t want your autograph, I want you all to hug me, so I can have your essence on my body.’”
It’s apparently not an isolated incident.
Lead singer Jordan Miller, Kylie’s sister, says she recently stopped mingling with the crowd after a number of overwhelming experiences.
“I did get out (of a show) once and someone followed me and asked me for a picture,” Jordan says.
“When they were holding me they were like, ‘I can’t believe I’m holding you right now.’”
Sometimes fans will grab at their instruments during concerts.
But while the Beaches say most fans are respectful, by the end of their Canadian tour they were fed up with some people’s aggression — including a time where a group of guys tried to follow them back to their hotel.
Instead of simply complaining about it, they sent a clear message displayed on stage in a lightbox: “Don’t be a creep.”
“The great thing is because we’re all girls and we’re all supportive of each other, we’re not on our own at all,” Jordan says.
The Beaches are used to facing hurdles as a team.
The quartet originally started back in junior high school as only the Miller sisters and Enman-McDaniel.
They signed with Disney under the name Done With Dolls and were quickly shuffled into sessions with 40 or 50 different songwriters in Los Angeles. Many of them tried to reshape the band into a poppier outfit, much to their dissatisfaction.
It was a conversation with prominent Irish producer Garret (Jacknife) Lee — known for working with U2, the Killers and Taylor Swift — that helped set them on a better course.
He suggested if they were unhappy with their careers, only they could make a change.
“We came back to Toronto and went through this period of self-growth,” Kylie adds.
The band renamed themselves the Beaches, added their keyboardist, and began writing music they felt confident about. Those recordings attracted Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw of Metric who offered to produce their debut, “Late Show,” inspired by their experiences growing up in the Toronto neighbourhood where they draw their name.
The album is packed with declarations of independence that often sound like rebuttles to songs male rockers have been performing for decades. Many pull in gender dynamics with lyrics that clearly proclaim the Beaches are eager to share their female perspective.
“Walk Like That” is a breakup song that rejects the notion of playing into another’s expectations (“I thought I was honestly yours. Girls are always doing their chores for you”). ”Let Me Touch” layers handclaps over the story of a male seductor whose trickster ways are revealed (“I’m just a girl, I’m not a thing”).
Jordan’s vocals make every song come alive with a gritty confidence, though she admits the more performative elements of the live show are a work in progress.
Lately, she’s developed a taste for intensely staring down the audience while she sings, which she says has been received well.
“I think it’s trial and error,” she says. “You have to try on a couple different characters, a couple different moves and see what really works.”
Since their album’s release last October, the Beaches have aspired to leave an impression beyond the borders of Canada. They recently played shows in the United Kingdom in hopes of stoking more interest ahead of their next album.
They plan to start brainstorming for that project in the coming weeks, motivated by their recent experiences on the road.
“We have a couple of ideas,” Earl suggests. “We have new experiences … Maybe a couple more heartbreaks.”
“Or hopefully not,” Jordan says. “Maybe a successful romance we can write about. I’m rooting for that for all four of us.”