Brian Sella of the Front Bottoms: "I Never Thought Anybody Would Listen to Our Band"
Mark Jaworski The Front Bottoms
New Jersey's the Front Bottoms is the classic love it or hate it proposition. The duo of Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich play an acoustic-based folk/punk that's very catchy and not a little cheesy. Album titles such as I Hate My Friends and My Grandma vs. Pneumonia tell a good deal of the story.
However, 2013's Talon of the Hawk upped the ante considerably. Sounding (much) more like the Mountain Goats, Sella and Uychich invested songs such as "Swear to God the Devil Made Me Do It" and "Tattooed Tears" with a much needed shot of seriousness. Better yet is the upcoming Rose EP that reworks several concert favorites. Tonight they'll be opening for Say Anything at the Granada. Speaking from his home in Jersey, singer Brian Sella spoke with DC9 about working at a grocery store and how he's surprised when 100 people show up at a gig.
DC9 at Night: Being from New Jersey, are you a big fan of Chris Christie?
Sella: No, I hate Chris Christie. I think I saw something the other day that said, "My Governor Could Eat Your Governor." Now, he might be better than some other governors. That makes absolute sense.
You think Christie will run for president?
No, I don't think so. He's got too much going on right now. Actually, he doesn't seem too fazed by his whole situation. So he might.
Who would get more votes, Christie or Bruce Springsteen?
Springsteen without a doubt. I am a huge fan of Springsteen. I'd say you have to like Springsteen if you are from New Jersey. He represents so much. When I was younger, I wasn't that into him, but as I got older and really started listening to the songs, I went, "My God, this is fantastic." I used to work at a grocery store with a lot of women and they just told me that I had to love Springsteen. I learned from them.
Have you been to Dallas before?
Yes, I think we have played there three times in the past year. We were on tour with You Blew It! That tour passed through Dallas, I believe. We've also done South by Southwest. We also did a tour with Tiny Moving Parts. We love it down there, especially in the summer.
The band has been together for seven years. What has been the biggest change in that time?
Probably just the amount of people who like us. We've always tried to keep everything the same. It is a fun kind of thing. It was enjoyable to do. We just kept that mindset. We just tried to do songs we liked. The only thing that has changed is that it went from nobody coming to see us to five, then 10, then 50 and now 100 people show up. It's awesome.
Are you surprised when 100 people show up?
Absolutely, it's a pretty incredible feeling to have total strangers show up to a show and know the words to my songs. They come up and say, "What's up?" It's an awesome feeling, but it was surprising. We are so used to playing in basements and bars. That's all we ever cared about. And now we have this nice feeling of having people care about our music.
Do you still have a day job?
I've been touring so much that it has been nearly impossible to have a job. I had to quit my grocery store job two years ago. I didn't feel guilty about not having a job. It's worked out pretty nice.
What is the worst job you've had?
Probably when I cut lawns in the summer. That was kind of a bummer. It was so hot. I kept asking myself, "What the hell am I doing?" Also, I used to paint with my dad, painting these apartments. It was just brutal.
Was the grocery job good?
Yes, it was. I worked there a pretty long time. I got to know everybody there. Some days were better than others. It was pretty good. I keep in touch with the manager. He liked the band so he gave me the days off. I just sent him and his family a bunch of T-shirts.
Where did you come up with the band name?
I got it from a movie with Ben Kingsley called Sexy Beast. He uses the term and I had never heard it before. I thought it was pretty funny and I never thought anybody would listen to our band. I never thought anyone would be asking me what that term meant. We thought the name was funny and we needed a name to start the band.
How did Brian Uychich leaving affect the band?
At the time, it was pretty intense for me and Matt. That was all we had going, the band. It was our whole life. When Brian left, we had to ask ourselves what we were going to do. We decided that it wasn't going to trip us up. We had to make things happen. We stayed the course. We didn't let it phase us too much. We've had a few more member changes.
Are you involved with Brian's new band?
We are all still really good friends from being on the road so long. If Brian has a band that's going on the road, maybe Matt will tour manage it. I will sing on a track or two. It's very incestuous. We all like hanging out and making music together. If any of us has another project, all of us want to get involved.
You've known Mathew since you were both 10 years old. Do you ever worry about getting sick of each other?
[Laughs] Not really, honesty. That's pretty funny. Hopefully, that isn't happening. Every once in a while, I need my own space. We have a little time apart when we come home for a few days. So far, so good.
The band is often described as folk punk. Are you comfortable with that term?
I like folk punk music, but I don't know if I would describe our music as that. We played a lot of basements and kitchens with a lot of folk punk people when we first started, so I can see why people drew that conclusion. That style of music makes me happy.
What would you call what your band does?
I don't know. I think we are a little bit more danceable than most folk punk. The way I usually describe it is as fun music. That is kind of a cop out answer, but it's all I've got.