Recently I was able to connect with Michael Kamerman of the pop rock band Smallpools before he and his bandmates embarked on a comprehensive U.S. headlining tour. In this interview, I asked Michael about the songwriting process evolution with his band, the material found in Smallpools sophomore record Life in a Simulation, as well as what’s he’s most looking forward to with getting back on the road. Life in a Simulation will be released this Friday on all of your favorite streaming services.
Thank you for your time today, and congrats on the upcoming release of your highly anticipated follow-up to Lovetap! Tell me about your ride of emotions now that you’re about to release Life in a Simulation, after such a steady stream of EPs.
Thanks so much! These last two years have been such a whirlwind for us all, a lot of ups & downs and a lot of personal growth. With so much uncertainty happening around us, we felt that the one thing we could control was the music we created together. The timing finally felt right to dig deep and put together a full collection of songs.
I understand that you all are getting ready to tour the United States for the first time since the pandemic hit. Being such road warriors already, what are you most looking forward to with getting back to touring?
We are! I’m looking forward to being in a room with other people and sharing in that human connection again. It will be nice to have the band and crew back together too. I’m also very excited to indulge in the little things that I may have taken for granted before…Combos from a Pilot Truck Stop have never sounded so good!
How have the preparations been going for the upcoming tour? Any unique surprises in store for the fans with these setlists that you’re crafting?
Everything has been going very smoothly thus far! We definitely have a few tricks up our sleeves and plan to resurrect some moments from our early shows as well.
Let’s talk a little bit about your new album. I love the direction that you guys went with on spacey songs like “Science Fiction.” What would you say is the overall mood and feeling of this new record, and what do you hope fans will take away from it?
Very glad you enjoy that one! I wouldn’t say that there’s one mood that defines the whole record but for me personally, a lot changed in my life from the time we started on the record until now. I went through a major break up and moved cross country. Some of those moments are reflected in the lyrics and songs like “Science Fiction” almost feel like they’re acting as an escape for me from some of the things that I had been dealing with.
You recently collaborated with Morgxn for a great single called “Slowdown,” that I’m glad will also appear on the new album. Was it an easy choice to work with him on this song, and what made you want to continue to work with this artist on your upcoming headlining tour?
Morgxn and I connected a few months before the pandemic and instantly bonded. We wrote “Slowdown” in an hour or two and it felt only natural for us to release it together. We had joked that if touring ever became a thing again, we would tour together and that’s exactly what is about to happen!
Your live shows are a ton of fun to watch and interact with! What do you find to be most rewarding in your approach to making the live show feel as intimate as possible?
It’s very rewarding to hear people sing our songs back to us. The music I grew up with has played such a large part in my life and has always been there for me as a constant source of encouragement. I hope that our music has been able to lend support to those who needed it. A Smallpools show to me is a celebration of the mutual respect that everyone in the room has for one another.
How has your songwriting process evolved since the early days of Smallpools? What did you find to be most challenging with writing/recording this record during a pandemic?
When we first started the band, we didn’t really know that we were starting a band per say. We would go to a rehearsal space and play through parts and ideas for hours on end. That’s kind of how the first batch of songs came to be, a lot of trial & error and experimentation. As time has passed, we’ve embraced all different methods of writing. Sometimes the jamming in a room mentality yields great results, sometimes it starts from a guitar riff or track we start on the computer. Sometimes it comes from a random lyric or melody.
The most challenging part of making the record during the pandemic was being able to physically see each other. At the end of 2020, we rented a ‘band’ house and quarantined together and really hunkered down to finish the writing of the last few songs!
What are some artists that you admire in today’s music scene, and what other forms of art do you draw inspiration from?
I’m a big fan of the music that MUNA is making. They produce the records themselves and I think everything sounds super top notch. It’s very inspiring. I’ve also been on a big Jon Bellion kick lately. His new song with Burna Boy is too good!
As for inspiration, we all draw it from anything & everything. Whether it be a movie on Netflix, a conversation over a game of golf or a unique design on a t-shirt. You never quite know when that inspiration will strike.
Thanks, Mike! Have a great time on the road, and stay safe!