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New EP, new tour, same emotions

The Front Bottoms play Cain’s Ballroom on Tuesday, June 26

The Front Bottoms

Jimmy Fontaine

Every so often a band comes around that is truly sincere. They show no pretense and the emotion is the force that keeps your finger from hitting the skip button or changing the station.

Enter New Jersey’s The Front Bottoms. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Brian Sella and drummer Mathew Uychich, the band’s major label debut, BACK ON TOP, came out on Fueled By Ramen in 2015 and was met with critical acclaim. NPR Music named the single “Cough It Out” one of its “Favorite Songs Of 2015”, SPIN applauded the band, and Rolling Stone even took notice in their “30 Best Things We Saw At Coachella 2016”.

The band’s success is embraced with humility.

“It’s fun and I feel lucky that I get to do it,” Sella said.

Of course, things have changed since they were 100-percent DIY.

“Basically, the label lets me be a professional artist,” Sella said. “[I’m] just trying to be creative full time.”

The only pressure he feels comes from touring seven months out of the year, but now they have help—not only on stage with touring musicians, but with the other things bands have to manage like selling merchandise and moving gear.

“There are a lot more people involved and there’s a crew,” Sella said.

The Front Bottoms’ latest release, Ann, is a six-song EP and the second in a series of releases called “The Grandma EPs.” Ann is accompanied by two new music videos and a tour with more than one sold-out show. While more sonically polished, Ann doesn’t lose any of the band’s genuine authenticity.

The release showcases the same originality and often humorous lyrics that Sella writes.

“I was on LSD when I saved that family,” Sella sings in the first line of “Tie Dye Dragon,” and then follows with a more introspective bridge: “I guess I’m older now / Caught in between who I am / And who I’m spose’ to be / Everything’s confusing.”

“The way the songs kind of come together is I write the song in my bedroom or jam space on an acoustic guitar,” he said.

“It’s a process. You hear it in your head but [then] you have to express that to the people who record it.”

The Front Bottom’s sound can’t be pinned down easily but is akin to that of Violent Femmes with an acoustic guitar drive and raw conversational vocals. Using the storytelling aspect of folk music, the sincerity of punk rock, and big head-bobbing pop beats, they achieve a fun, celebratory sound. Sella struggles with putting the band in a genre and reluctantly said “modern pop” when I asked.

“Recently, I started to realize, if it’s a good song technically, that’s not as important as, like, the emotion that goes into it.”

The Front Bottoms
Tuesday, June 26, 8:00 p.m. | $22–$37
Cain’s Ballroom, 423 N. Main St.

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