By Lisa Morgan
As overwhelming as the smorgasbord of bands that the Coachella Music and Art Festival brings to us each year, there never fails to be a band or bands that you happily come away with and add to your life soundtrack. I guarantee you, that The Front Bottoms will be one of those gems. These self-taught Jersey boys organically developed a sound from their limited resources in instruments and music education, marinated it in a big sister’s pop punk music collection, and then combined it with a fantastic sense of observation, genuine authenticity, and the ability to articulate the human experience while keeping things light but honest. The result – a happy yet meaningful ska punk, injury and anger free mosh pit that is as cathartic as it is fun. Not long ago, childhood friends, Brian Sella (vocals/guitar), Mathew Uychich (drums) were living in a van, doing shows in basements. Six years of tenaciously touring 8 months out of the year, every show on their tour is selling out.
CVW: “Your bio talks about the Influences of your big sister’s pop punk era music collection. Who are your influences/inspirations now?”
Sells: “The Mountain Goats have been a recent influence. I listen to John Darnielle sing the way he does, and I feel like, ‘Ok, I can sing however I want – it works for him maybe it will work for us.’ The other two guys we have in the band now (Tom Warren and Ciaran O’Donnell) are incredible musicians. That’s my inspiration! Knowing what these guys are capable of doing, that they will be there holding it down musically, allows me the freedom to let my imagination run wild.”
CVW: “What flipped you guys from living in the van and playing in basements into signing with a label and selling out shows?”
Sells: “I think we’ve always worked at keeping things genuine. Putting on a good live show has always been a priority to us. We knew at the time when we recorded in basements and stuff that the recordings weren’t going to be crystal clear, but we knew the songs were good. We knew other people would like them. For the first couple years me and Matt would record stuff and just put it out there on the internet, unmixed and un-mastered – we didn’t care. Our mindset was ‘put it up tonight and book a show tomorrow.’ That’s what mattered to us. We’d just go around and tour. And even if there was just one person in the audience, we would still be playing as if there was 100 or whatever. So people keep coming back. People from 5 years ago, friends that I made when we were playing in basements, still show up today for our shows in actual venues.”
“This is a pretty extreme lifestyle; you’re on the road so much – you don’t even know what home is anymore. You miss your family and stuff, but for some reason you just keep doing it. We didn’t really know why we were living in the van or whatever. We just felt like this was our calling – like we have to do this. Being genuine about it makes it easy when you really have no choice and this is just what you’ve got to do.”
“It’s crazy to us though. Me and Matt were just in the van playing punk rock shows and people started to take notice and more people came to the shows. It seems like Fueled by Ramen (their current record label after their first contract with Bar None timed out) realized how that worked organically and said, ‘OK, let’s just let them do what they do.’ You know, I say that now, but after a couple of albums, we’ll see how I feel. No matter what, we don’t want to ‘perform’ for our audiences, we want to entertain and engage with them. If someone shouts out a request, we’ll do it. We try to change things up for them. We want to be a band that people can come see, depend on, enjoy and feel safe as themselves in this kind of punk rock temple.”
Follow them at thefrontbottoms.com and check out their video “HELP” to get a good glimpse at what they are about. They are listed on the Coachella app under “T” for The Front Bottoms.