Interview: Upbringing: The Front Bottoms

Upbringing: The Front Bottoms

The band’s Brian Sella talks us through their biggest musical influences, old and new.

The Front Bottoms release their new album ‘Going Grey’ today and, far from slipping into middle age, it’s a fiery, passionate effort that brings together all the promise of their past three LPs and takes it even further.

Much of this - of course - is down to the band’s musical upbringing, which we dig into in a new feature. From their first instrument and musical obsession to musical habits, both good and bad, we dig into what makes the duo tick.

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What was the first gig you ever went to?

The first gig I ever went to was at a place called Continental Airlines Arena, and it was to see the The Mars Volta and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I went with a buddy he had an extra ticket. It was me, my friend David and his mom (I didn’t catch her name). It was a good first show, I remember the Mars Volta getting booed off stage and they were acting all crazy and stuff. It was pretty incredible to see, and that was more interesting than the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, honestly, because they were real rock stars about it.

Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?

No, honestly. Not really. Me and Matt, when we did start playing shows, we kind of travelled. There was a venue called The Mainstage that was, like maybe an hour away from where we lived, so we would go there. But we would basically have to just go to, like, New England, and downtown. There weren’t really too many venues. Basically we just had to make our own scene.

What was the first song you developed an obsession for?

Probably ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus. I remember I was listening to it on a boombox sort of CD player, on this radio station K Rock on Sunday night. They had this alternative show and they played that song, and I remember that bridge - the breakdown when he does the high voice - it really really scared me! I took the headphones off and went right to bed because it had such an impact. I was like, oh my god, what the hell is this? I didn’t know how to find music back then; there wasn’t like Spotify, YouTube and all that shit. I had heard it once and thought about it for probably about 6 months before i was able to hear it again on the radio again.

What’s the first song you ever bought with your own money, and why?

‘Who Let the Dogs Out’. I probably had 10 bucks or whatever, and I bought this one because I guess I was at the counter, and I’d heard the song before. I was just like it’s my money I’m gonna do what I want.

What’s the story behind your first instrument?

It would have been the guitar, and I think I got it when I was in eight grade, or just before I went into high school. It’s not really much of a story, I just kind of played it out of boredom. Actually, no - you know what, that’s not true. The story is my dad had these two old really nice saxophones in the attic that he traded in to a music shop in order to get me a guitar. I should have just played saxophone honestly.

What’s your worst musical habit?

Stepping away from the mic when I’m supposed to be singing. Sometimes I just get caught up in the music, you know, and I like back away from the mic. Then I’m like oh shit I’m supposed to be singing.

What inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?

Just my friends, really; the people that I hang out with. I always keep it in the back of my head that you are who you hang out with, for better or for worse. It’s usually where a lot of stories come from, and most of the inspiration, but also TV, I watch a good amount of reality TV - the real housewives of New Jersey and shit like that. I also like the term ‘the truth is stranger than fiction’ because it is absolutely true. A lot of stuff you just cannot make up. I use stories that I hear to work into songs and stuff.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?

Well, it’s from my cousin. I always remember he came into my room and was like ‘where’s your guitar?’, and I told him ‘it’s in the case, its right there in the case’. He told me to always keep your guitar out of the case, and he was right. I just started leaving it on my bed instead, and then every time I would walk into my room I would just pick the guitar up and play it. 

If you could be in a band from the last two decades, which would you pick, and why?

I’ll just say Blink-182. We just got to tour with those guys, and if I was in the right place at the right time I could have probably actually been in the band! They hit their prime along time ago. I was such a big Blink-182 fan when I was in eighth grade 15 years ago. When they broke up as a band I was devastated. They broke up for a couple of years, and then they got back together and now they have a different lead singer and yet still 15,000 people coming to see them play. They also seem like a  band that lived their lives and continued to stand as an art project. That’s something that I can appreciate. I know how hard I stress about the band, and I wanna make people proud, so I appreciate their style. This is just who we are, and this is the music we are making, and people fucking love it. And I like it, too.