It's the Summer of the Beaches: "We Have Been in Training for This" | Exclaim!

It's the Summer of the Beaches: "We Have Been in Training for This"

Jordan Miller and Leandra Earl check items off their bucket list as they put online trolls and being ditched for quidditch in the rearview

Photo: Meg Moon

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 4, 2024

"I just started seeing someone new, and when his mom first met me, she was like, 'Don't write a song about my son!'"

Jordan Miller winces over Zoom from a Marriott in Denver, CO, as she admits that it's been a little hard to date following the whirlwind success of "Blame Brett" — a song where she not only names names, but warns you not to let her near your dad.

That hit single propelled her band the Beaches to new heights of success, which is why I reach her and keyboardist-guitarist Leandra Earl on a rare day off just before they fulfill a major career goal: performing at the awe-inspiring Red Rocks Amphitheatre while supporting girl in red on her US tour.

"If you had told me a year and a half ago — right before we released this record, when I was going through a really bad breakup — that we would be experiencing all this, I wouldn't have believed you," Miller explains, having additionally faced the dissolution of the band's major-label deal ahead of releasing their sophomore album, Blame My Ex, independently in September 2023. "We're working our asses off right now, but we're ready for it, and we really want this."

Earl agrees: "None of us expected for something like 'Blame Brett' to take off the way it did, but we have been in training for this."

Rounded out by Miller's guitarist sister Kylie and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel, the Toronto band led off the album cycle with a smash single that has become the type of phenomenon musicians fantasize about in the age of social media. With its holler-along hook and memorably referential lyrics about the Toronto Raptors, "Blame Brett" certainly has all the makings of a TikTok hit — but nothing's guaranteed, least of all a song garnering the inescapability and staying power that can forever change a musician's career.

While you can't possibly prepare yourself for a moment like this, the Beaches have put in their 10,000 hours, grinding it out on Canada's live music circuit for over a decade. To corroborate my understanding that they've been road dogs for years, I bring up the time they performed at the University of Guelph during frosh week celebrations at my alma mater. A quidditch demonstration was somehow scheduled at the same time, and nearly everyone skipped the band's set to watch it.

Before I can even get the words out all the way, Earl gasps, "Is that the one with the quidditch?! I will never forget — nobody came to our set because quidditch was happening!"

Miller piggybacks: "I wanted to go onto the quidditch field and take one of the brooms and break it in front of them."

It was quite a different experience for the band when they played Boston Calling festival last year, which Earl remembers as the first moment that she really felt the gravity of their newfound viral vitality.

"We played it probably a couple weeks after, or just as 'Blame Brett' was going viral — and that's when we first noticed what a difference that could make," Earl remembers. "We were like, 'No one's gonna know us, no one's gonna show up,' and we got on stage, and everyone flooded to see us. There were 30,000 people there and we were the talk of the festival, which just felt crazy."

And their crowds have continued to grow since then: the Beaches just finished their first-ever Australian tour, all the shows selling out during presale and getting upgraded to larger venues. They won Rock Album and Group of the Year at the 2024 JUNOS, dethroning Arkells from their three-year reign over the latter category. ("Take that, Max!" Earl jokes.) Earl admits that she was a little nervous to take the stage on the national broadcast that night with "BLAME TEGAN" emblazoned on her chest, but, "Tegan and Sara were like, 'We love that.'" Miller laughs, "Sara was sad she didn't get one."

They've taken the wearing-your-heart-on-your-sleeve adage a step further with those omnipresent T-shirts. "The original idea was for us to have a "Blame _____" shirt, and then people could put their own partner on it," Miller explains.

"'Blame Brett' was kind of just a symbol itself," Earl adds, during our call wearing a tee that says "I Went to a Katie Tupper Concert and All I Got Was a Bisexual Awakening." She continues, "We were like, 'We each have an ex we kind of want to blame — let's put their name in.' And people loved that idea." According to Miller, the titular Brett has a good sense of humour about it. "He's really proud of us, and he and I are on good terms," she says.

The band members have also donned tees reading "Mommy's Little Nepo Baby" and "Mommy's Little Industry Plant" that they picked up at Lollapalooza. Although they didn't design those themselves, Miller remarks, "We had even talked about making shirts like this!"

Increased visibility has inevitably led to an influx of hate comments, with some detractors accusing the group of having had the ease of industry access that the terms on those shirts would suggest; the Miller sisters and Enman-McDaniel started pop-punk band Done with Dolls when they were just tweens, going on to write the theme song for the 2011 Family Channel sitcom Really Me with Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida.

"Do you think they get any trolls?" Miller wonders of their male forebears in classic rock who seem universally lauded. Earl laughs, "I would love to see some Rolling Stones hate comments. Like, 'Oh, Mick's really trying to play to the algorithm!'"

Does trolling from people eager to dunk on "tryhard" young women factor into how the Beaches approach creating TikTok content now? "I can't say we don't think about it — I'm not gonna lie," Miller confesses. "There are moments where I'm like, 'Is this kind of too cringey?' And then other times, I'm like, 'I don't really give a fuck.'"

Earl acknowledges candidly, "It really hurt my mental health at first." She used to be the one in charge of the band's social media before they hired their BFF, photographer and content creator Meg Moon. "I would take it so personally." Miller jumps in, "The stuff I find inexcusable is when Leandra gets homophobic comments and shit. Those are the ones we will call out, because she's our sister."

When it's not classic homophobia, it's the new-school "queerbaiting" — an intentionally homoerotic marketing ploy that pop stars have been accused of for years, with the public often discrediting their journeys of self-discovery.

"I came out during COVID, so for this whole record, I feel like that was a big kind of storytelling thing that we had to talk about. We were getting all these new fans where I feel like they represent who I am, and I would love to talk to them with a song and connect with them," Earl reflects of "Edge of the Earth," a sapphic anthem Miller says they "really believed in and fought for," which is having a TikTok moment of its own — to the point where the guitarist-keyboardist has musicians on Raya ("I won't say who," she smirks) referencing its lyrics in their messages.

"And then being embraced by this whole queer community of all these artists we look up to — that feels so great," Earl continues, pointing to cosigns from the likes of G Flip, Royal & the Serpent, and the Aces. "We've only just started this tour with girl in red and we're all best of friends now. It's so awesome."

She goes on, "We've found this audience of young women that is so supporting, and they want to see young women—"

"Being themselves, being original, being goofy, having their own identity," Miller chimes in.

"And they want to see women succeed," Earl nods. "We cater to those people. The trolls are always going to be there, and the insecure men are always going to be there."

But guess what? So are the Beaches, now on a larger scale than ever. In addition to playing Canadian festivals and joining Greta Van Fleet for a handful of US shows, they'll check another goal off their lists this summer by headlining Budweiser Stage in their hometown.

"I was always like, 'I'd love to open at Bud Stage! It's a venue we've never played. What do you mean we're headlining?'" Earl says in disbelief. "I've been going to shows there since I was a kid. This is just so cool and full-circle for our childhoods and growing up in Toronto."

Despite working away on lighting and production design for the show, Miller says, "I feel embarrassed to say this, but I can't process it yet. I know it is happening, but my brain hasn't actually registered it."

To make matters more surreal, they'll be joined by Dizzy, New West, and their good friends in Valley, who Earl and Miller remember first meeting at CBC Fest at Echo Beach when they were freshly 18 and "the biggest delinquents," according to Miller. Along with Scott Helman, the two bands joined forces to steal a single golf cart, all piling on. "I think we almost flipped it into the water," Earl laughs.

Whether it's golf carts or Bud Stage's infamous wine guitars, the frontwoman forecasts a Blame My Ex summer ahead. "But maybe in the fall we'll be done," she muses. "Maybe we'll be ready to blame someone new, or just be so in love. I'm hoping for the latter."

Having "embraced TikTok for the tool that it is, which is really to showcase who you are as an artist," as Miller puts it, the Beaches are seizing this moment. They're carpe-ing the hell out of this long-awaited diem, with or without your indie-cred stamp of approval.

"We want to experience this moment and take every opportunity that we can to share music with people, so, fuck! No sleep," enthuses Miller, taking a swig of a Stella Artois. "We'll sleep when we're dead."

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