Beach goths The Growlers have softened both in life and sound

Beach goths The Growlers have softened both in life and sound

Photo: Taylor Bonin
Word by Priya Francis

Los Angeles underground legends, The Growlers, are due back in Australia for another round of highly anticipated shows for their latest album, Natural Affair.

It seems The Growlers are one of the hardest working bands out there at the moment and speaking to lead singer Brooks Nielsen, it’s clear they have nothing but love and gratitude for their legions of fans.

Before releasing Natural Affair out into the world, a slow trickle of singles kept the band’s fanbase well and truly captivated – starting with the title track – which Nielsen describes as an ode to the peculiarities and dysfunctionality of family.

“I felt like Natural Affair kinda played around with some of the ideas that we kept pushing through the record, some of the confusion,” says Nielsen. “I never know which family I’m talking about when I’m talking about a dysfunctional family, it’s kinda strange how weird my own personal family is or how weird the band family is. It kinda prepared me to have the one I have now. I just wanted to have that message out first, whatever that was.”

The album also gives audiences a taste of the softer side of The Growlers, a side that has evidently come with starting a family, settling down and enjoying life.

“I can be considered a pretty grumpy, negative person, but I always consider myself an emo old man. I’m definitely getting softer in my old age,” says Nielsen. “For me, it’s just some big changes; I’ve started my own family now and there’s just been a lot [happen]. Losing band members, losing friends, making changes, just going forward no matter what.”

The self-proclaimed ‘beach goth’ band aren’t ones to abide by convention when it comes to their live antics, with their own official Beach Goth festival now in its eighth year and a haunted carwash launch party accompanying their latest release. The latter is a memory that garners a big laugh from Nielsen.

“I was literally walking down the street from the hotel to the venue thinking and I walked by this carwash. I called around, called my mother-in-law, and she’s friends with the family that have run the carwash since like the ‘70s and they were cool … that should be every year.”

As they increasingly book bigger venues and perform to larger crowds, The Growlers are seeing the fruits of their labour. It’s not something Nielsen is oblivious to and he points out how much of a difference their success has made, especially with their grueling tour schedule.

“Because we toured so hard in the early days – very small shows, sometimes nobody there – doing all the grind ourselves in tour buses, doing every part of the job, selling our own merch, driving, drinking too much, I think it does feel easier now. We have a lot of luxuries … we have people to help us now and take over some of the jobs. We’re traveling in a big tour bus, I mean, it’s easier now and we get along, and we feel it directly from the fans.”

One thing is for sure, Nielsen and the rest of the band are keen to get back to Australia.

“It really feels like our early shows when we were at home. Just [that] surfer kids’ scene, a lot of DIY house parties, young kids, it really feels similar in Australia. And rowdy. It’s really fun.”

“We’ve done this for a long time and I just wanna keep it interesting, keep it weird and keep it entertaining for our fans. I want them to count on it.”

The Growlers hit The Croxton Bandroom on Thursday January 16, tickets are available via Love Police. Natural Affair is out now on streaming services.