Interview: Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms
We caught up with Brian Sella from The Front Bottoms to chat about the band’s new album ‘Going Grey’, his love of Smith Street Band, and his prospective t-shirt design business.
AAA Backstage: I’m really enjoying ‘Going Grey’, it’s a great album!
Brian Sella: Oh, thank you so much!
AAA: Who were your main influences for it?
BS: For that album in particular I was trying to write like, modern pop songs, you know? Basically the main influence of the sound was the way that we recorded. We recorded it in probably about a three-week amount of time, but over about eight months. We’d just get together in different cities while we were on tour and try to write songs. That was the main influence on why the album sounds the way that it does.
AAA: You guys recorded the album in a lot of different places – London, Texas, California, etc. Was that because you were touring those places at the time?
BS: Yeah! In Austin in particular we knew we had to record some songs. We actually recorded ‘Talon of the Hawk’ there. So we rented a studio and worked there for five days. Then we were traveling in London at the time, and like… We kind of picked those places because it was inspiring to work there, so that was the plan for that.
AAA: There seem to be a lot of lyrics on this release with a theme of longing for the past, particularly in songs like Vacation Town. Was that something you were thinking about a lot when writing the album?
BS: You know, it’s hard to say. I feel like it must have been. Not that I can particularly remember ever really feeling like that, you know? I use art as like a way to express my emotions, so it was probably the way that I was feeling at one particular point. I spend a lot of time on the road, then come home and try to get everything in order, then go back out on the road. You try to keep your head on straight, so there was probably a longing for a moment in time when things seemed a little calmer.
AAA: Kind of a side note, but the line “you be Rachel and I’ll be bong rips”… Is that a reference to F.R.I.E.N.D.S at all?
BS: [laughs] You know, I didn’t even think about that! We have a buddy called bong rips, and you know, he’s dated some pretty crazy girls so it was like a comparison saying we could be carefree like this guy and his girlfriend.
AAA: Your lyrics are quite self-reflective and honest. Do you ever find it difficult sending something so raw out into the world?
BS: I dunno. I dunno if it’s like putting out your entire project as a whole that makes me a little bit anxious, or if it’s specifically the lyrics. When you’re gonna release something, there’s always like, a little bit of nerves, you know. You’re going to release something that you’re proud of, that you’ve made, that you just kind of came up with. You want people to like it, but you’ve also got to keep it in perspective and enjoy it.
AAA: What are your favourite songs from ‘Going Grey’?
BS: Hm, let me think about it… I like Everyone But You. I like Grand Finale, and I like You Used To Say (Holy Fuck).
AAA: Why are they your favourites?
BS: You know, really it has a lot to do with how they came together. Like, each song individually didn’t start the way it sounds on the album, so that was like a very long process. Each one of the songs had like its own little journey of like, becoming what it was. That’s really what makes me feel a certain connection to a certain song. And like, that’s how people like music when they listen to it, so that’s pretty cool. It’s the same way I connect to music. Someone’s going to hear Grand Finale and be like ‘this song is awesome’, and then someone is going to hear it and be like ‘this song sucks!’, you know? Build your own opinion. But I think I like the songs for the way that they sound, really. Like, the tones and stuff are pretty cool.
AAA: I love that music does that – you can connect with it and it’s such a subjective thing. Like, it really depends on where you are at the time with your life and everything.
BS: Absolutely! That’s the word I was looking for – subjectional.
AAA: Do you have any plans to tour ‘Going Grey’ in Australia?
BS: Our plan is ASAP! I don’t know when it’s going to be, but we’re going to come back there as soon as possible because it really does feel like home. You guys treat us so good and the style is so fresh, it’s awesome!
AAA: What are your favourite places over here?
BS: Perth, you know, that had a good vibe. Brisbane – I liked the water, I thought that was very cool. Melbourne, well, that’s where the Smithies are from so that’s kind of where we originally hung out for a week or two. I guess I like Sydney ‘cause you can see the sights and it’s kind of more of a city. Oh, and Tasmania!
AAA: Tasmania was the best?
BS: Well, it’s just always really good vibes down there!
AAA: So, you like Smith Street Band?
BS: Oh yeah! You know, the first time we toured in Australia we toured with them. They took us around, and then we toured in America with them, like a six-week tour. And then we’re also going to tour Europe with them in February.
AAA: What do you have planned for 2018?
BS: You know I’m definitely gonna just keep writing a lot of music, so that’s kind of my main plan. I’m going to try and make some t-shirts and sell them, like, very limited, I’ll just make like one or two of them. Basically just try and make a lot of music and just stay involved with any art project that comes up. Maybe make a movie, I dunno, keep it fresh.
AAA: Do you design t-shirts often then?
BS: Just in my head – you know, like I think ‘this is a good t-shirt idea, I should do this!’ [laughs]. Basically like everybody does, but I’m going to try to do it. Get some fancy clothes or something!