Church Girls gets personal on new EP ‘Home’

Lead vocalist Mariel Beaumont shares details on the life experiences that inspired the tracks

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Local sounds: Church Girls, a local indie/post-punk band formed in 2014, released its fourth album Home on Sept. 7. The five-track EP is a compilation of emotionally-charged masterpieces that chronicle the real-life struggles of lead vocalist Mariel Beaumont. Source: Church Girls

Almost four years ago, Mariel Beaumont took the risk of a lifetime. But so far, it’s paying off better than this Philadelphia native could’ve imagined.

In January 2015, Beaumont said goodbye to a steady job in the fashion industry to pursue something she had dreamt of since childhood — a professional career in music. With her twin brother and longtime friend by her side, Beaumont formed Church Girls, an indie/post-punk band whose emotional lyrics and fresh melodies grabbed the attention of local listeners.

Despite a few personnel changes over the years, Beaumont’s baby is still going strong. Earlier this month, Church Girls not only released its fourth album Home, but embarked on its first international tour, which encompassed several dates in the U.K.

Before she jetted off overseas, The Times caught up with Beaumont to learn more about the personal songs on her band’s new EP, and how that risk taken four years ago has drastically changed her life for the better.

Reflecting on her childhood, Beaumont explained how she was always drawn to music. As a kid, she played trumpet and guitar and joined a handful of bands throughout high school. A full-time gig as a musician would’ve been ideal, but life has a not-so-funny way of pulling us toward what we think we should do rather than what we’re meant to do.

During college and the years that followed, Beaumont put music on the back-burner to prepare for a more steady career, not the turbulent times up-and-coming artists often experience. Beaumont thrived at her first post-graduate job in the city, but her first love of music stayed stubbornly in the back of her mind, constantly inching its way forward.

In early 2014, Beaumont stopped trying to swat it away. On a regular basis, she soon found herself playing open mics in the area.

“I just got the bug back,” she said.

By July of that year, the bug had returned in full force. It was at this point Beaumont formed Church Girls with her friend Jack and twin brother, and recorded the band’s first song “Young Planes,” which is featured on its 2015 self-titled debut. The song was sent to WXPN, which introduced the track to its massive following. With airplay under its belt, Church Girls’ credibility in the local music scene skyrocketed as requests for the band to play shows started to trickle in.

“It all kind of tumbled forward unexpectedly,” she said. “Now, it’s my full-time pursuit for the most part and I’m having a blast with it all.”

As Church Girls’ success began ramping up, the late shows and packed schedules proved to be too much for Beaumont’s fellow founding members. She needed to find replacements. Luckily, Philadelphia is chock-full of talented musicians, and Beaumont was able to land three of the best. The current lineup is Beaumont on vocals and guitar, Michael Liszka on drums, Vince Vullo on vocals and bass, and Joseph Wright on vocals and guitar.

By this point you’re probably thinking — the band has three guys, why is it called Church Girls? According to Beaumont, it was sort of a fluke thing. During her open mic days, she would experiment with different band names and unveil a new one at each show. For whatever reason, Church Girls stuck.

“I put it down one time and I noticed it got a few laughs,” she said.

The name is also a nod to Beaumont’s upbringing in the church and years attending an Episcopalian middle school. Though her time spent in the chapel was eventually replaced by punk shows, she never forgot that feeling of community, which is something she works to establish at each Church Girls concert.

“When I look back, I feel like music became the new church for me,” she said.

Since its inception, Church Girls has built a solid discography that includes Church Girls in 2015, Thousand Lives in 2016 and Hidalgo in 2017. On Sept. 7, the band released Home on Chatterbot Records, a five-track compilation of emotionally-charged masterpieces that chronicle the real-life struggles of Beaumont.

“Usually they’re about my own failures,” Beaumont said of her songs, which touch on mistakes made in relationships and desires to become a better person.

Though Beaumont has always delved deep into her faults and failures, laying them out for all the world to see, the lyrics of “Deep Wood,” the first song she wrote for Home, takes it a step further.

“I’d been reflecting on a relationship that collapsed and uncovering the mistakes I made along the way,” she said. “The song is about the inevitable pain you feel in realizing you were just as culpable for the demise as the others involved. It’s my personal favorite on the record.”

To help promote Home, Church Girls is in the midst of an East Coast tour, which took a brief pause when the band unexpectedly booked a handful of shows in the U.K. These overseas venues, which Beaumont said have a capacity of 300–800, were the largest Church Girls has played in its career.

It’s safe to say the band will continue to grow its following on local, national and now, international levels, but it won’t forget where it came from. Beaumont and the guys are embracing each success as it comes while holding fast to its humble roots of playing house shows and DIY punk gigs

“I’m nervous for us and excited for us, so we’ll see what happens,” she said. ••

Keep up with Church Girls at church-girls.com and facebook.com/churchgirlsphl.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com