On the heels of their 2020 album In Sickness and In Flames, The Front Bottoms are finally returning to the road. Atlas spoke with singer Brian Sella about the album, what to expect on the road and getting back to the basics.
Atlas Artist Group: With your latest album out, along with the new single, how do you as a band look at the evolution of your music from where you started to where you are now?
Brian Sella: Wow, that’s crazy. I think that the evolution of the music in terms of like the product or in terms of the band- it’s still very therapeutic. I feel like playing music and creating music and the art- it’s still an escape for sure. I think that all the art that goes along with the music- like the album and the music videos and all that…merch and stuff like that- that’s also part of the art experience. I feel like maybe I embrace it more as a whole now. When I first started it was just making music totally with the energy of just going to make music like no other. Now it’s sort of a little bit more thought out- it’s definitely more thought out. That’s probably the biggest difference from when I first started making music and now.
Atlas: Have you approached making music and writing lyrics differently over the years?
Brian: I think I just kind of think about it more where I’m like, ‘all right, people are going to hear this’. What am I trying to say? There’s a little bit more pressure on it to not be just off the top of my head.
Atlas: How do you connect with older listeners as compared to newer listeners who may have come in with some of your more recent music?
Brian: I think we just try to stay true to ourselves and think, ‘is this song something that we want to make, is it something that we want people hear, do we think that it’s a good style?’ And that’s basically the determining factor. Like I said in the other response, I feel like I do think about it more, but the bottom line is definitely gut feeling and ultimately goes back to, ‘I think people will like this because it’s us staying creative’ and giving them interesting things to listen to.
Atlas: You have to make music for yourself before you can make it for other people. So if people connect to it, that’s just the icing on the cake.
Brian: Absolutely. That’s the lucky part- that’s the thing I feel very lucky about.
Atlas: From your latest album, what song resonates most with you guys as a band and, in turn, have you seen a response to a particular track from the fans?
Brian: Totally. I love the song “love at first sight” from the new album. I always liked the style of that song. I thought that it was cool that it was a chill song. It had a little bit of a different style, so we could jam it live. We’ve been able to play a few live shows in the past couple of months, so we’ve played it live and it has a good style. I feel like people have given a good response when we play it live. Also a song called “leaf pile”- that’s another one that’s pretty intense and I feel like people respond well to it. It gets some people pumped up.
Atlas: On your most recent single, you had Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio, Blink-182) in the studio to play guitar. How did that collaboration come about and what was that experience like working together?
Brian: We had been lucky enough to go on tour with Blink-182 in the UK when Matt Skiba was playing guitar for them. We had sort of met him briefly. Things are hectic on tour so we’re not hanging out or anything like that. But then we tried to make some songs in California. Matt- the drummer of The Front Bottoms- had Matt Skiba’s number and he was like, ‘let me text him and see if he’s around’. So he was around and he came into the studio basically just like that- pretty cool. We were just chilling and I had this song sort of halfway written and I played it for him and he was like, ‘oh, this is cool’.
He just started jamming and playing the guitar and we had recorded it. That was it- it was just like a good vibe like that. I think then we took it home and I might’ve done some more vocals on it, but I think we added cowbell or something like that. It was like a very chill sort of scenario. I think the song came out really good. So it was a fun experience overall.
Atlas: After the album came out and we were all in quarantine and locked down for the last year, did your approach to making music under these conditions change, or has it altered your perspective of making music with this new normal?
Brian: Yeah, definitely. I think everything’s changed. I think when you release an album, always the music you make after that is kind of like a reaction to that last piece of art that you put out. So that already is an interesting process- to have the album done and be waiting for it to come out. There’s whatever you’re making in that period.
I spent a lot more time alone, so I feel like inspiration-wise, there wasn’t as much inspiration and that was the overall factor of if I was going to make music or be able to make new songs and stuff like that. I felt limited with the pandemic and not being able to interact and stuff like that. It was nice to have had the album recorded and have this big project to be able to release and let people hear. It ‘s actually weird releasing it because we would always tour right after the album, but this was just shouting into the void and then like moving on, you know? I’m excited we get to tour.
Atlas: Speaking of tour, you guys are headed out very soon. Can you give us a little preview of what to expect with these shows?
Brian: We’re just going to take it back to basics. The band this time around is going to be Natalie playing bass and Eric playing guitar and keys and then you’ve got me and Matt- it’s a very, very rocking band, and we’re definitely going to have fun on stage. We’re going to play all the hits and plus a lot of new ones. So we’re just going to be having fun with it. I think we’re going to be just so excited to be out and in the world traveling around. We’re just going to take it all in for sure.
Catch The Front Bottoms on tour this fall!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo Credit: Mark Jaworski