Smallpools - Interview
Front man Sean abandoned 'cold' and 'serious' New York to move to the relaxed atmosphere of Los Angeles in order to persue his musical dream with close childhood friend and guitarist Mike. After meeting Joe (bass) and Beau (drums), the catchy indie vibes and buoyant choruses that Smallpools pride themselves on were born. The up and coming band enticed audiences with debut single 'Dreaming' reaching #1 on The Hype Machine. They now continue to grow in reputation and experience, recently touring alongside Two Door Cinema Club.
Sean talks to us about what it's like to be in the UK, stories from the road and using Snapchat to talk to the fans!
CM: Welcome to the UK, how are you finding London?
Sean: So far, so good! We played a show last night (11/05) and got in a day before so I haven't seen much yet but so far I'm a fan.
CM: How was the show at Madame JoJo's last night?
Sean: It was great! It was fun. We had some trouble plugging in our stuff, we blew up a few of our instruments but luckily the band after us (Shy Pools) let us use some stuff!
CM: Oh no, is everything ok?
Sean: It all worked out!
CM: We're glad to hear that. Is there an opportunity for a full UK tour in the near future?
Sean: I would hope so. I think we're going to go home and try to hash out this album and come back next year.
CM: We'll talk about that in a moment. First off, new single 'Mason Jar' is due to be released on December 8th in the UK, can you talk a bit about the inspiration for that song?
Sean: It kind of started with a guitar lead over some chords in a room one day that we all thought was worth pursuing as a song. All our songs take a long journey to craft - we'll take parts from different days of rehearsing and kind of mix them together and everything just works out alright.
CM: It sounds like a really collaborative song-making process between you and the rest of the band-mates?
Sean: Yeah, we all get in a room and just play for hours until we find parts that are worth pursuing or keeping.
CM: That's interesting. It's been stated that you moved to Los Angeles to further your musical career, is this where you met the band and how you formed?
Sean: It is, yeah. I moved there about two years ago with the guitar player. It took a while to get acquainted to new stuff. We had day jobs for a while whilst writing songs and trying to figure out a sound. Last summer we eventually got Joe and Beau on board and everything from there was working out.
CM: What's the music scene like in Los Angeles?
Sean: I think being there was huge. There's just an overall great mood and vibe that definitely came through in our writing and music. Before we started the band, we would go out to a bunch of free shows and see what the scene was like and what bands were up to. There's a really good scene with free shows every Monday or Tuesday in a load of different places and a lot of people will come out and see music so it's good.
CM: Were there/are there any specific upcoming bands that you particularly enjoy listening to?
Sean: One of my favourites was The Colors and we actually became friends with them through some mutual friends. We played a show with them in San Diego. They were one of the first bands we saw in town and thought, 'Cool, they're great, we can do this.'
CM: Do you feel there is a single venue in LA which encapsulates the music scene?
Sean: I would say it's all over LA. I don't know how to describe it. We moved from New York which is colder and more serious, I guess, but it's more laid back in LA; just happy, good vibes.
CM: You worked with producers Captain Cuts on your debut EP, what was it like working with them?
Sean: They're great. They're young kids who are up and coming themselves so the vibe in the studio is really good - there's no egos and anybody can say what they think is bad or good. There's no holding back which really helps the song. Sometimes I've experienced being in a room with a producer where you can't really say exactly how you feel sometimes because you might offend him or vice versa so you kind of settle on things which aren't quite as good as they should be. These guys were willing to re-record whole songs if it's not right, it's a really good situation.
CM: Are there any producers who you aspire to work with?
Sean: Probably, but right now the vibes are so good I wouldn't want to change anything.
CM: You mentioned an album earlier, is that something you're working towards?
Sean: Yeah, we've been working on it whenever we get home and have some time so there are a few more finished songs that we've got on the backburner and then there's just a whole list of parts and pieces that we have to tie together. I think we're going to spend most of December and January doing that.
CM: We look forward to hearing it. Where do you find inspiration for your song lyrics?
Sean: I kind of have to hold myself up for a week and tell everyone to leave me alone. The way I write is by singing whatever melodies we have over and over and over again until certain syllables and words start to connect and sound good and then I just form concepts from those words that come.
CM: You're signed to RCA Records, how did that collaboration form?
Sean: We had done some demos early on last summer and we brought them back to LA. One of my best friends growing up was a fan of what we'd done and was working at a label so he had a bunch of friends. He hooked us up with the producers - that was a great hook up, and we did a few more songs with the producers. It was kind of a word of mouth thing and people started approaching us wondering who we were.
CM: How have you found the support from a record label has helped you?
Sean: They have a big support staff. They've been doing it for a while so they 'know' just where certain songs should be and people they know.
CM: Your music has been featured on promotional videos for Snapchat, the season 5 premiere of 'Vampire Diaries' and Fifa 14, how important do you think external sources for your music to be heard are?
Sean: These are all huge things which just raise awareness. It's fun to get a bunch of texts from family and friends saying, 'I heard your song here; I heard your song there.'
CM: Am I right in believing you have an open 'Snapchat', allowing fans to contact you through the app?
Sean: Oh yeah! We do have our own Snapchat, we get a tonne! The only problem is that we have so many people on it that if we ever snap something we have to manually touch every person to send the snap to. If we have something cool that we want to send out, I'll do a hundred then I'll pass it back to Mike who can do a hundred and then we have to hope it even goes!
CM: Considering you've only recently formed and thus only recently begun touring, have you found anything out about your band mates you didn't previously know?
Sean: I've known Mike since 2007 we had only just met Beau and Joe when we started the band so there was a whole growing and friend-ing process that started once we started the band. It was all about finding new things about everyone and building friendships.
CM: Do you feel that as the band's emotional connections have grown, the musical process has become more efficient?
Sean: I think we all have a graph on everyone's personality where we can all say whatever we want to each other knowing nobody's going to get p***y or quit the band.
CM: You've toured with San Cisco, Two Door Cinema and are going on tour with 21 Pilots later this month, which artists do you aspire to tour with most?
Sean: I know Mike is a big U2 fan, I feel like he would want to go on a big arena tour with U2. That seems like a step probably for the future.
CM: Have you any interesting stories from the road?
Sean: In Boise I smashed our band's air conditioning under the awning because I thought we'd cleared it - I guess we didn't (Laughs). It's not that interesting but it's all I can think of at the moment.
CM: You recently made your TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel, what was it like performing on television to such a large viewing audience?
Sean: That was pretty crazy, kind of a blur. Very nerve-racking. We spent the whole day in the green room leading up to it just hoping everything would go alright. It was ok.
CM: It looks good from our point of view. You've accomplished a lot already, but what do you see for the future of the band?
Sean: I just can't wait to get back to the studio and finish off the album which everyone is hounding us for.
CM: Can we be waiting for an international tour?
Sean: I would think so. I don't think anything is planned yet but I'm down! I'll be back.
CM: Thanks for speaking with us, good look with your tour!
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