A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, I got a chance to catch The Front Bottoms on Friday afternoon. Their set was one of the best I saw all weekend, and after, we got a chance to sit down and chat with them about a variety of topics (including a possible The Front Bottoms craft beer).
We spoke with Brian last fall, on the eve of release of Back on Top. So now that we’re a little less than a year out, how do you feel the album has been received?
Matt: It’s been pretty good so far. I like playing the songs live a lot. And I think on this tour, people seem to know them a bit more.
Tom: People are a little more familiar with them now, and they seem to freak out when we play them just as much as with the other songs.
I know a lot of people are sometimes quick to write off a major label debut. Have you noticed people being less or more supportive because of it being released under a major label?
Tom: Yeah, I mean our songs are on the radio, which is really cool.
Yeah, I just heard from The Menzingers on Twitter, that they were saying they heard one of your songs on Philly radio yesterday. Well, I know you guys wrote the album before you signed to the label, but I’m guessing you recorded it after the signing?
Matt: Yeah, we wrote it, and then we figured out the label stuff later.
Ciaran: I think it was like 3 or 4 months after we signed, we went into the studio to record.
So how has the label relationship been so far? I know they’ve given you a lot of opportunities as a consequence of being a part of their management
Matt: It’s been awesome. They’re super loose. We can text them or call them whenever we want. They’re just very supportive and give us the attention when we need it. It’s a small roster. I think they only have 10 other bands, so it’s been good for us.
You guys are getting to play with a few of them in a few weeks at that Radio 104.5 Birthday Show in Philadelphia. That must be cool for you guys and for the label
Ciaran: Yeah, that show should be awesome.
You kicked off the summer at Coachella, and now you’re playing another festival today. I know you guys are scheduled to play a few more festivals later on this summer. So I know for a band who grew up playing intimate venues and basements, how does the mindset change when playing a festival show?
Matt: I think by this point, we’ve got it down. Festival sets always feel natural to me. You know, it’s all just people having a good time, enjoying the outdoors and drinking beers.
Tom: And you know, it’s not like it happened overnight for us. It was a very gradual increase over time for us.
I know a number of bands have been doing this thing where they pair up with a craft brewery, to put out their own craft or specialty brew. Is that something that would interest you guys in the future?
Ciaran: Asbury Park Brewery, right?
Matt: “Back on Tap” is what it’s going to be called.
Really. That’s a real thing that’s happening?
Matt: Yeah, well it’s something we’ve been working on trying to make happen.
Tom: One time, a kid came to a show in San Francisco or San Diego, and he said, “I brought you guys beer, it’s like a Front Bottoms beer.” So we took it and drank it, and we all got sick.
Did he put labels on it or what?
Matt: Yeah, it was cool, he had the self-titled album on it and the Talon of the Hawk cover on it.
Ciaran: I think he called it “Talon of the Hops.” (laughs)
Was that one of the better gifts you guys have gotten from a fan? I mean, obviously, it didn’t’ work out in the end, but it seemed like a cool idea.
Ciaran: We got that cooler…
Matt: Yeah, one time a fan got us a cooler. It had all of our faces on it, and they loaded the cooler up with a bunch of goodies. And then the blanket, too.
Ciaran: Oh yeah, that was crazy.
Matt: This girl worked on this blanket for like six months. Like, sewed all our lyrics into it.
So, as you said, there’s something in the works at least regarding the craft brewery, even if it’s not an immediate thing.
Matt: Yeah, we’re living down in Asbury Park now. And a friend of ours is opening up a brewery down there called Asbury Park Brewery. It’s only like a couple of blocks from our house.
That’s really cool. I know I’m looking forward to that for sure. So are there any songs on Back on Top that didn’t come together particularly quickly, or that were more difficult to write?
Ciaran: Probably “Cough it Out.” On the album it is very different from its original form.
Matt: And then “Fuck Jobs” is very different on the record then it is when we play it live.
You guys road tested that song for probably a year and a half before the album came out. Do you think that played into you guys changing it on the record?
Matt: We have kind of reverted back to playing the old live version now live. We feel like that kind of works better for live settings, while the album version works a certain way. You try a lot of different things in the studio- some things stick, some things don’t. You can only see in retrospect what you like and what you don’t.
Is there a lineup of bands you think would be a dream tour for you guys to go on?
Matt: Ice Cube!
Tom: He was dope at Coachella.
Wasn’t there a partial NWA reunion there?
That was the second weekend. We were there for the first weekend and it was just him and his son, and he brought out Snoop.
Matt: But I guess we didn’t really answer that question.
Tom: Courtney Barnett.
Matt: Courtney Barnett. Also, we’ve been listening to Pinegrove a lot.
So what comes next? I’m assuming it’s probably too early to go in for a new full-length album.
Matt: Probably, yeah. We still have all the festivals this summer.
Tom: We’ll get home and jam, and see what happens.
But not really any recordings plans at the moment? I know everyone always asks about the Grandma EPs.
Matt: Yeah, at the moment no definite plans.
(Brian walks into the interview)
Brian: Alright, I have time for one question (laughs)
I should make it a good one then. I went to TCNJ. You recently played a solo show there, where you mentioned on stage you were working on a book. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Brian: I regret talking about that book now.
It’s kind of gotten all over the blogosphere now, so I figured I had to ask you about it.
Brian: Alright, so I’m writing a book. It’s a work-in-progress. It’s a fiction book. That’s all I can really say on that topic right now, legally. Well, there’s a couple of contracts that I’m involved with, so legally I can’t talk too much about it. (laughs)
There we go. That’s a politicians answer right there. Anyway, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.