The epitome and poster boys for DIY aesthetic, The Front Bottoms are a band that are for the most part living the dream. They’re gearing up to release their second major label record, ‘Going Grey’ next month, they’ve toured with the likes and calibers of Blink-182 and Brand New and have a legion of dedicated and devoted fans. It’s pretty clear The Front Bottoms show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I caught up with drummer Mathew Uychich in between walking his dog and fixing his motorcycle to talk about their new album and what went into making it, getting some pretty groovy stories in the process.
Hello Mat, how are you going?
I’m good how are you?
Good, thanks. So I quite literally just got up down here in Australia, what have you been up to today?
I’m in New Jersey at the moment and I’m patting my dog right now. I took her for a really long walk and also got to work on my motorcycle.
Oh, what dog do you have?
She’s like a pit-bull but she’s a rescue so she’s a mix with something else but we’re not sure what. She’s older now but she’s really tiny like she’s basically a puppy and super cute.
Aw, she sounds adorable! Give her a pat for me, please.
[Laughs] I will!
Thanks! Anyways, today I wanted to talk a bit about the process behind this new record, ‘Going Grey’. I spoke with Brian earlier this year and he mentioned you guys had plans to do this one on your own as a band and even build a little studio to do so. Did that end up happening?
Yeah, it did! We finished the studio in our house and went to work on demoing and working on things. We did want to do it ourselves, we didn’t want to go to another studio and spend four weeks there so we got this Airbnb from where we all live in the woods and we went and we spent six days and wrote about five or six songs. We came home from that and didn’t even listen to them, we waited two weeks and flew out to L.A to finalize them there. Then we did the same thing and came home and chilled. We really liked this and wanted to do some more travelling and see some new places so we booked a studio in Austin, Texas and worked on some stuff there. We had about twelve songs at that point but we still had a few we wanted to get out of our system so we came home to Jersey and wrote some more. By that point, we really felt like we got it and on an off day in London on the Blink-182 tour, we hit up one of our friends and were able to work with him and track one more song. It was totally different to ‘Back On Top’.
It wasn’t the same producer as ‘Back On Top’ either. It was just one guy we worked with and he did a few songs but a lot of it was really just us. We weren’t bunkered away in the studio, we had a lot of time to work on it all. It was a lot of fun, it never really had the pressure to be finished. It was just a couple of guys in a room which is what it should be.
And what it was for a lot of your early history too. Besides flying across the country.
Yeah, you’re right! Flying across the country is obviously nothing like the old days but the actual writing and process felt like them. And this wasn’t recorded in like, a nice room either. It was just me playing in the same room as the guys were pressing the buttons which really felt like being back in a basement. And same for Brian just playing and singing in the same room. A good story for that is that one night we went out to the bars and came back to record a song. We were tracking a guitar part and we had had a few drinks so none of us realised the mic wasn’t in front of the guitar amp and we just hit record. But it ended up sounding so cool and we had someone at the label ask us how on earth we got that guitar tone ‘cause they loved it!
I haven’t had the chance to hear the record yet but what were your feelings were behind the having ‘Raining’ and ‘Vacation Town’ lead this album and if we could expect any more songs before the release date?
‘Raining’ was one of the last songs we recorded for the record but we’d had the idea for a while. We kind of decided to give it a go and I just think from a fan perspective it’s a safe bet. I don’t think Front Bottoms fans would listen to it and hate it but then ‘Vacation Town’ we felt that that song is a step in the direction of what the band’s doing on this record. It’s also a song that when I played it for my friends a lot of them said “This sounds like your first stuff as a band” and all I could think was, “That’s crazy, no it doesn’t.” One of my other friends I showed it to a few months so the record wasn’t mixed yet but I played him most of it and he made me stop and play every beat for ‘Vacation Town’. I was like, “dude, you’re fucking with me?” and he was just like, “You know when you hear a song and it’s so goddamn good that you want to punch someone in face because you didn’t write it? This is one of those songs!” [Laughs] So that got me thinking that maybe it was going to be a good single! The next single is gonna be ‘Peace Sign’ and it’s a lot more of a single track and I think that’ll make sense when you hear it.
It’s funny you mention what your friend said as that was me with ‘Raining’. I think that’s one of your best songs you’ve ever written so I wanna talk about that a little. The video’s got me stumped though, maybe I’m not smart enough to get it but you’ve got this character walking around the city, cutting between wearing a suit and the hospital gown. I was wondering if you could break it down for me a bit.
Of course! So when you see me wearing the suit, that’s from someone else’s perspective. When you first see me in the hospital gown a car drives by and then it cuts to footage of me in the suit looking out from the car. It goes off the lyrics, “On the outside I was fine, but on the inside, I was all torn up.” So wearing the suit because everyone sees me doing fine but on the inside, the hospital gown, I’m dying. That’s like the coming home party, everyone is there and happy to see me in reality but in my version of that, no one’s there to see me and I’m just alone. That was the idea at least. We just wandered around New Jersey filming on a Super 8 camera. Those things only hold like nine rolls each and each roll is three minutes and you can’t rewind and watch what you just filmed there and then so we just had a lot of fun doing it with the producer around the city.
That’s awesome, and I feel kind of stupid now for not getting that. But thank you regardless. More on, ‘Raining’, there’s this brilliant melody line in the “woo-oo-oo-oos” and I gotta know, how did you make that sound? Is it someone’s vocals that you just fucked up in post, is it practical, or is it a synth?
So that’s actually Brian singing that melody into a Leslie amplifier which spins and we changed the rate of the Leslie amp spinning which is usually used for organs and we got that fucked up that sound.
So would you say that a philosophy of this record was to do it as natural and in the real world as possible ‘cause you’ve got using a Leslie amp to get you that effect but you also mentioned happy accidental mic placements and what not?
Totally, that’s exactly right. Another good example is, we were recording and we were doing it all in the same room as this kitchen and we were making tea and the kettle went off and it was in the same key and the same note as the end so we left that in! [Laughs] I will throw in too about Leslie amps: I love Third Eye Blind so fucking much and that self-titled record, most of the bass was recorded through a Leslie amp!
I reckon that’s another awesome story to end things on, as our times up. Thanks so much mat for your time, can’t wait to hear the record and have you back out in Australia sometime soon.
No problem Matty. Have a good day!
‘Going Grey’ is out October 13th, pre-order a copy from Fueled By Ramen if you so desire, though the quality of these two singles would suggest you really should.
‘Going Grey by The Front Bottoms
Out October 13th through Fueled By Ramen
1. You Used to Say (Holy Fuck)
2. Peace Sign
4. Vacation Town
5. Don’t Fill Up On Chips
6. Grande Finale
9. Far Drive
10. Everyone But You