Alter The Press!


Interview: The Front Bottoms

Despite this day and age, where social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have almost become fundamental to a band's success, the power of word of mouth should not go underestimated or even ignored; especially as this is the tool that has greatly contributed to the underground success of the Saddlebrook, NJ, three piece, The Front Bottoms.

Alter The Press recently caught up with Brian Sella and Matt Uychich of New Jersey's finest, and spoke to them about: how the band originated, their influences, the story behind the name 'The Front Bottoms' and more.

Alter The Press: How did The Front Bottoms originate?
Brian Sella (vocals/guitar): Freshman year in college was coming to a close, and I wanted to start a band really bad. I'd been playing with a couple of different bands, and just jamming for fun. Matt (Uychich) was always my favorite person to jam with and was the best drummer I knew. I wanted to make it a bit more official, so I thought of a name, and said: “I'm going to start a band called The Front Bottoms;” and then I called Matt, and asked if he wanted to play drums, and he said definitely.

We then would jam in his attic; it'd be 130 degrees, sweating our asses off. His brother started hanging around more and said he wanted to be in the band. He couldn't play guitar, because that's what I'm playing, and I didn't want him to play bass because that's so standard. He found a keyboard in the attic and said, 'I want to play this, and if I do, can I be in your band?' and I was like, 'Hell yeah, man!'

We played our first show to no one and it was still awesome. I think, from the first show, we thought ‘this is something we should keep doing.’ Also, for my birthday, we got recording time at a studio, so that was another reason why I wanted to start a band; because to record, I had to be in a band, and The Front Bottoms had just become what it is.

ATP: Why the name, 'The Front Bottoms'?
Brian: We get a lot of shit for that name. Nobody seems to like it. I got it from a movie called 'Sexy Beast,' with Ben Kingsley. He was talking about how he was on an airplane, and was getting harassed by some guy and was touching his "front bottoms". I never heard the term before, and thought it was kind of funny. I was going to call the band, 'Ben Kingsley and The Front Bottoms', but The Front Bottoms is stupid enough. People think it's really funny, it's really stupid or they just don't get it. Either way, it doesn't matter.

ATP: When did the band start out?
Brian: 2008. It's been about three years now.

ATP: How many releases have you had already?
Brian: Our first release was called, 'I Hate My Friends;' it has twelve songs on it. Then we did a six song EP, then another one, which we were really happy about; a three song EP that we weren't happy with, so we quickly released another six songs. That's led to where we are at the moment, with 'Slow Dance To Soft Rock'. Basically, we've always tried to keep people interested, and we feel the only way to do that is to just record more songs; make better songs, that are better than the old ones, as quickly as possible. That's what it came down too. The last EP, we really took our time, and tried to make the songs as good as they can be.

ATP: You released 'Slow Dance To Soft Rock' in June. In comparison to your previous material, how has the reaction been?
Matt Uychich (drums): The quality is better.

Brian: Right off the bat, when you listen to our older songs, the quality of the recordings is not so good, so it takes more for people to get into it. Since this stuff is recorded better, people can just take it and run with it. It's definitely positive.

ATP: How would you describe your sound to anyone who hasn't heard you before?
Matt: I don't know. Just listen to it and give it a chance.

Brian: I always used to say we are indie-punk. But when we started playing with legit punk bands, I was thinking we are more indie-pop. It's like acoustic-pop. When people usually ask me this, I usually say, “pretty shitty music.” I know it doesn't answer the question but whatever.

ATP: What are the main influences for the band?
Brian: I would say Blink-182, you know, the standards. I then got into bands like Bright Eyes and more indie stuff.

Matt: Just our friends. As we say on our MySpace page, influences are just our friends.

ATP: The band is just the three of you; acoustic guitar, keyboard and drums. This isn't the usual generic layout.
Brian: When people see us and say, “Why don't you have a bassist?” that always made us feel self-conscious. But, when you see us play, and are able to imagine how we feel when we do, it's a three-man thing. We bounce off each other on stage. It's like, if we were to add another person, it wouldn't be the same experience. Pretty shortly after we were jamming, we were pretty confident it would just be us three; unless we found a really hot girl to play bass or something, or some weird instrument.

ATP: Have you started work on the follow-up to 'Slow Dance To Soft Rock'?
Brian: We have three songs written already; it just comes down to finding the best way to record, and finding the best people who really see our vision. I'm really excited about that stuff.

ATP: When will it see the light of day?
Brian: Probably in six months. I don't like to sit on things for too long, and even if we haven't recorded it, we'll be playing it live at shows for sure.

ATP: How would you describe the sound?
Matt: All the same roots as we always write. Not too much piano, more band.

ATP: Everything is self-released. Have you had interest from any labels yet?
Brian: There are people that like it, but it is such a risk for someone to take on a band like us, who have a following, but it's not really anything that will sell out. I'm just going to keep doing my thing and see what happens.

Matt: We'll feel it out.

Brian: All I'm doing is feeling shit out with my hands and touching things.

ATP: What is the plan at the moment with The Front Bottoms?
Brian: To be on the road 11 months out of the year, and being able to support myself. That has always been my goal; to not get a real job until I'm older, but to make music and tour, even if they are shitty shows, and I have no money, and live in a van with my friends.

I guess the ultimate goal is to be rich and famous and party. I just want to party all the time, that's all I think about! I love to party. I cannot help partying.

ATP: What's lined up for the rest of the year?
Brian: We're going out in August; then go back out in late September, throughout November. Between that, I'm going to push carts at a grocery store to make money, and we're going to record a new EP.

ATP: Thanks guys. Anything you would like to add in closing?
Brian: Thanks for flying out from the UK for the interview!

ATP: It's all being charged back to The Front Bottoms.
Brian: I'll check my bank balance.

‘Slow Dance To Soft Rock’ is now available via Bandcamp.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!