The Beaches 2024
Photo: Becca Hamel

Meet the Beaches’ Beating Heart: Drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel

Getting heard in a band of super-powered women can be challenging, but the Beaches’ Eliza Enman-McDaniel does so much more than bang her drum all day.

Blame My Ex
The Beaches
15 September 2023

Though drummers are sometimes caricatured as drunken or spaced-out buffoons in films like This Is Spinal Tap, there are others who prefer to quietly hide behind their kit and let the pounding percussion of their instrument speak for themselves. 

Then there is Eliza Enman-McDaniel, who defies description as a major player in the Beaches, an all-female Canadian pop-rock quartet whose sprightly sounds and prickly lyrics are spreading beyond the border to destinations far and wide. 

Calling on the first day of spring from her hometown of Toronto, where her three bandmates also grew up, Enman-McDaniel was already recharged after a brief break from touring. She was even looking forward to rehearsing and going back on the road again, highlighted by their first visit to Australia. Unwinding for about a month, by cooking, seeing friends, following Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, and binge-watching true crime shows on Netflix like The Outreau Case: A French Nightmare instead of tearjerking romance dramas like One Day enabled her to “live like quite a normal life” after weeks of constant overstimulation on stage.   

The early 2024 buzz that started in Seattle in February began swarming with shows in formidable venues like the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the Fillmore in San Francisco, and the Music Hall in New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood. 

“Honestly, the entire tour was the highlight of my life,” exclaims an effervescent Enman-McDaniel, who has known Beaches sisters/founding members Jordan and Kylie Miller since elementary school days at Kew Beach Junior Public School through high school at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. “We made so many new friends and people who maybe were only seeing us for the first time. … It was super-successful and really fun.”

That could be said of the show I saw with a revved-up audience at the Summit in Denver on 25 February. In front of one of the loudest crowds I’ve witnessed in recent memory, dominated by girls/young women in a packed venue, Jordan Miller (lead vocals, bass), Kylie Miller (guitar, backing vocals) Leandra Earl (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) and Enman-McDaniel were a wrecking-ball crew. 

The source of their grrl power was provided by material from most recent album Blame My Ex. Naturally during a 70-minute set, they led singalongs to personal anthems like “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid”, “Shower Beer”, “Kismet”, and the raucous encore “Blame Brett”, a sassy defense for bad-boy breakup revenge. Yet while rocky relationships are usually relatable, the band bonded with outsiders in other ways besides rage on stage, including: sharing detailed stories (a playful chat about Kylie’s lost-then-found purse at Denver eatery Sweetgreen lasted three minutes); raising their cups to drink Golden, Colorado-brewery creation Coors Light; and sweetly granting a “Happy Birthday” song request to a young fan named Amelia.  

“I remember that crowd being super-lively and like very … it was, I think, quite a young crowd, which is cool for us. Because it’s nice to see a variety of ages in our audience,” notes Enman-McDaniel, who was “pleasantly surprised” to fill a venue (with mostly standing room only) that’s reportedly 1,100 capacity. That’s more than three times the size of the setting for their previous Denver show at the Marquis Theater on 28 April 2023. 

“Of course, when we have young people coming out, it feels like we’re reaching a crowd that we always wanted to reach,” she continues. “We always wanted to see people like ourselves on stage and also in the audience, right? So it’s nice to see young people who, like, we would consider our peers at our shows.” 

After selling out most of their headlining dates on the 2023-24 Blame My Ex tour behind September’s hit LP of the same name, the Beaches launched back into action in a major way in May. After the Australia stops this week, including all five sold-out dates in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, they’ll return to the mainland for appearances at popular festivals like the Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and BottleRock Napa Valley in California, this month. A stop at Red Rocks outside Denver (opening for Girl in Red) on 25 May has “always been a bucket-list item for me,” Enman-McDaniel gushes. 

As spring turns to summer, the Beaches will head to Bonnaroo on 16 June, then their second stadium show opening for the Rolling Stones (17 July in Santa Clara, California) followed by four August dates supporting Greta Van Fleet, then a September 21 gig opening for powerful singer-songwriter/cultural icon Fletcher at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. 

Photo: Michael Bialas

Classic Throwbacks 

Making such connections after years of struggles must validate how far the Beaches have come. Meeting members of the Stones at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds north of Toronto after being among the Canadian bands to open for them (before a crowd of 71,000) on 29 June 2019, “They mentioned things, like, kind of indicating that they saw the show, which is crazy,” Enman-McDaniel offers. “Having them asking us to play was a big milestone. And I’m a huge fan because I used to listen to them growing up.” 

Enman-McDaniel’s other inspirations during her childhood included Fleetwood Mac, the Go-Go’s — “they’re an amazing band to look up to and we’re, like, lucky enough to call [bassist] Kathy Valentine a friend” — and the Beatles. “Early stuff” like “Love Me Do” and “Twist and Shout” rank high on her personal playlist. 

There wasn’t a deliberate attempt to pay homage to the boys from Liverpool with their seven-letter band name, according to Enman-McDaniel. (The Beaches were named after the same Toronto neighborhood where she and the Millers grew up.)  Yet she was a good sport about trying to play a personality game matching their Queenly Quartet with the Beatles’ Fab Four. 

Admitting she was somewhat shy, so could probably best identify with George Harrison as “The Quiet One” of the Beatles, Enman-McDaniel ultimately left it with, “We’re all very diverse humans and have different qualities. So that’s why I would answer ‘all of us’ for each of these categories.” 

The Beaches, from left: Kylie Miller, Jordan Miller, Leandra Earl, Eliza Enman-McDaniel perform at the Summit in Denver. Photo: Michael Bialas

Drumming Up Support 

Though Enman-McDaniel mostly stays out of the frenzied fray at front and center during shows, and her voice is rarely heard (except on occasional gang vocals) on recordings, her musical background isn’t limited to banging on her drum all day. 

“A lot of people don’t know that I can also play guitar,” shares Enman-McDaniel, who started learning the instrument from her father at the age of seven or eight, a couple of years before she began playing drums. “But the thing is, I’m left-handed. I play basically upside down, like the other way for a guitar. For drums, I play right-handed, which is weird. I’m kind of ambidextrous that way. So there aren’t many reverse guitars lying around for me to just pick up, right? But … if there is one made for a left-handed person, I can play it.” (laughs)

Providing someone else in the band like multi-instrumentalist Earl volunteers to handle percussion duties for a song or two, Enman-McDaniel waits for a chance to show off her guitar skills during a live acoustic segment, optimistically saying, “I can see that happening one day.” 

While amiably acknowledging that her mother, Nancy Enman, a retired social worker, isn’t musically inclined, she proudly credits her father, Bruce McDaniel, for being “a massive influence because he’s a musician, he’s where I get it from. And he plays a number of instruments as well.” 

“Back in the day,” Enman-McDaniel remembers, her dad played in a group known as John Prince and a Piece of the Rock, describing the frontman as “a renowned songwriter from Newfoundland.” Recently seeing her dad perform with a different formation of that band in the Toronto area, she adds, “He plays around a lot of places in Canada. And I love watching his band ’cause it just brings me back to like when I was a kid. I spent a lot of time in pubs just watching his band play. So a lot of happy memories there. …

“My dad can relate to a lot of the stories that I have about touring because he toured as well when he was younger.”

While moving on to enjoy more pop-punk music and bands like the Jonas Brothers and Paramore, Enman-McDaniel admits she “didn’t listen to a lot of drummers specifically,” though she points out the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin has always been her favorite. Interested in various styles of music, the recent hip-hop aficionado gets turned on by the talents of Anderson Paak, saying, “Watching him being able to literally rap and drum at the same time is insane.”

If her path to making good vibrations was more basic, it did lead to the start of a long and beautiful friendship.

Photo: Michael Bialas

Birth of the Beaches 

“[On drums], I was kind of self-taught because there was a kit next door to where I lived. So I went over there to my grandmother’s house in the basement,” she recalls. “I would go and just kind of learn basic stuff. I just was really passionate about music and then I had the opportunity to join a band, so it just kind of all came together.” 

The drums made it possible. The 11-year-old Grade 7 student was walking to Glen Ames Senior Public School one day 17 years ago with Jordan Miller, who was already writing songs for a band that had just lost its drummer. Miller asked her friend, “Do you want to see if you want to join our band or just come rehearse with us?” 

A simple “for sure” reply, followed by one practice in a studio, basically resulted in the birth of the Beaches, though the band didn’t officially change its name from Done With Dolls until 2013. 

“It was crazy!” Enman-McDaniel declares. “It was like pretty vital that we started doing it at such a young age because we got really good at playing together. We got really tight as a band. And that’s important, especially when you are young women. You walk up on stage, people are gonna look at you … to find anything wrong with your performance because they tend to pin it on, ‘Oh, they’re girls, they can’t play well.’ So you have to be able to outplay grown men, which is what we started doing at such a young age. And I think that’s part of the reason that we have the success that we do because we’ve been playing together for so long.” 

Enman-McDaniel and the Millers went from school chums to best friends over the years. “We’ve gotten a lot closer,” she states. “We went through a lot of phases of life together. Like we went through our teenage-hood together, our young adulthood and then now … approaching our 30s. So we’ve matured as people and we know how to get along. … We just know each other so well that’s it’s just like a well-oiled machine at this point.” 

After Done With Dolls guitarist Megan Fitchett departed in 2013, Earl, who hails from the Little Italy area in Toronto, joined the group that remains today. “The entire project was getting kind of like rebranded, refreshed. We weren’t happy with the songs we were writing. It just didn’t seem true to who we were,” admits Enman-McDaniel, who shares songwriting duties with her three bandmates in a “super-collaborative” and simultaneous way. “It just felt like influences from the outside were, like, I don’t know. We wanted to write more music that felt true to what we would want to listen to if that makes sense. So we kind of decided to change the name [of the band], rebrand the band, write new songs that felt really true to us.

“We just decided to name it the Beaches ’cause it felt like home and who we are as people. … I felt like it was the best thing that we did because it now feels very authentic to us.” 

After releasing two EPs — 2013’s The Beaches and 2014’s Heights — they signed with Island Records in 2016 and made their debut full-length album Late Show (co-produced by Metric’s Emily Haines and James Shaw) in 2017. Along with finding a devoted follower and supporter in Elton John, they won two Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys). The first was in 2018 for Breakthrough Group of the Year, followed by Rock Album of the Year in 2022 for Sisters Not Twins (The Professional Lovers Album), a compilation of EPs from 2019 and 2021

March to the Junos 

After leaving Island Records and then joining AWAL, the Beaches can now celebrate their best-year-ever anniversary, about 12 months to the day since the flash-and-furious hit single “Blame Brett” was released on 5 May 2023. The song, which Jordan Miller has said is for “all the hot messes out there,” became a viral sensation while pointedly referencing Brett Emmons, her former beau who is lead singer/frontman of Canadian group the Glorious Sons. Apparently, nothing — including music executives, record labels, hot messes, and even exes — can keep the Beaches apart at this point. 

“We usually are all on the same page, and we have the same vision for what we want,” Enman-McDaniel replies when asked how decisions are made within the band. “We’re kind of moving in the same direction together. It’s just like, I think that’s kind of the superpower that we have. ‘Cause we know exactly what we want as a band and for this band. So that way, it doesn’t really lead to disagreements because we’re all on the same page.”

After the release of the sophomore full-length album Blame My Ex on 15 September 2023, the novel ideas, tasty hooks, and witty words about traumatic moments and broken hearts are noteworthy enough to fill a book of blank pages. The record not only put them on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart for the first time but also resulted in two more Juno nominations.

It certainly was a hot topic the week of our interview. The Beaches were preparing for a 22 March flight to the Juno festivities that would conclude with the award presentations on 23-24 March in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they would also present the Breakthrough Group winner (New West) after earning that distinction six years earlier. Asked how they would fare as nominees for Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year, an excited but grounded Enman-McDaniel stayed humble. “We’re just happy to be nominated, of course. It’s an honor,” she carefully chose to respond, laughing at her own patented cliche. “Obviously, it would be amazing to win.”

The Toronto super troupers went 2-for-2 that night in Halifax, including winning the Group of the Year award (presented by Anne Murray) over Canadian mainstays like Arkells, Nickelback, and Walk Off the Earth. Reportedly, the second all-female act to claim the honor that first went to Tegan and Sara in 2014, what can the Beaches possibly do for an encore? 

“I just want to continue to write music,” surmises Enman-McDaniel, revealing earlier that demos of new songs were “ready to kind of get finalized” in March in an effort to have another LP completed within the year. “Have every album be better than the last and keep touring and get to see new places with my band and get to introduce people to our music and just keep going for as long as we can.”

In other words, for Enman-McDaniel and the Beaches, the drumbeat goes on.