When their third full-length ‘Back On Top’ was released, The Front Bottoms didn’t quite realise the record they’d written would take their band to another level. “It was like the biggest thing production-wise we’d ever done,” explains frontman Brian Sella. “When we released our previous albums we had this punk rock attitude, like – this is as big as it can get. But it got bigger, and now more people are coming out to shows.
“It’s been a really gradual growth for The Front Bottoms, it’s more about the long term plan of being able to make music forever. I think as a band we’ve all kinda matured, not only personally but as musicians, and I think definitely as artists.”
This album also saw the band experimenting with collaboration. Having released a split 7” for Record Store Day 2015 with New Jersey-based rapper GDP, they continued to work with him on ‘Back On Top’ where he provides a verse on ‘Historic Cemetery’ – the band even took him along during their UK tour in February, to perform the track.
“It’s good to do something a little bit wacky like that,” says Brian. “GDP is a buddy too so it was cool to go on tour together, he did a lot of video stuff for us when he came out on the road too so it was fun.”
“Our relationship with the UK is extremely positive,” he continues. “The first couple of tours were really DIY tours – playing in basements, sleeping on people’s floors. We went from playing in front of literally nobody in a foreign country to now being able to go back after years – probably about six years at this point – and being able to play in front of a substantial amount of people. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
“It’s also getting to go and see a whole other family that I haven’t gotten to see in a couple of months. It’s something that’s grown each time we’ve gone over there. I’m very happy and proud about The Front Bottoms and the crew in the UK, and getting to come back and rock’n’roll and party with you guys.”
The band even has a gang of dedicated fans who follow them throughout their time in the UK. “People that come to our shows, make friends there and come see our band together, I know them. They’re people I’ve met and put on the guest list, so they follow the band but they are friends.
“It’s weird – I never thought I would have friendships with totally random people just because they like to come see our band play. I couldn’t be happier about it, and I’m proud. We definitely have a weird appeal that brings people together. I couldn’t have planned it that way but it’s awesome. That really came together in the UK.”
They’re bringing some of their favourite British acts out on the road with them this November, in the form of Gnarwolves and Apologies, I Have None. “We’ve been friends with Gnarwolves for a while now, we’ve stayed at their house, just kinda being punk rock boys. We needed a place to sleep, someone told us there’s this band that has an apartment we should try to get in touch with them and next thing we’re sleeping there, hanging out and eating pizza,” Brian laughs.
“We had this insane getting to know each other experience with Apologies, I Have None when we toured Australia with them and The Smith Street Band. We’re going for a good vibe on this tour!”
The next tour is set to be bigger and better than any previous. “We always try to keep it funky. We’ve got a living room vibe on the current Brand New tour. We put a couch on stage and we’ll have a friend sit on the couch, and a bunch of lamps set up on the stage.
“The venues we’re playing with Brand New are so enormous it’s easy to get lost, so the whole kind of vibe we wanted was for it to feel like watching this band play in your parents’ living room with your friend sitting on the couch drinking a beer. So we’re trying to keep that style going on the next UK tour – but I may have a crazy dream and then I’ll have to bring five inflatable dancing guys with me. We’ll see what happens.”
After the tour, the band have some time off for Christmas before heading back to Australia for another string of live dates. Once they’re home, they’re going to be gearing up for album number four. “I feel pretty prepared in terms of material to start with. I have a lot of time on this tour so I got into the habit of writing little poems or playing some guitar so that when it does come time to actually put the stuff on tape, it won’t be a flustering experience. It’ll be smooth, like ‘Here’s my rock’n’roll hits!’” laughs Brian.
There’s absolutely no stopping The Front Bottoms once they’ve set their minds to something, it seems. What else could they be up to? Brian modestly reveals that he’s also been working on a book. “I want to do more story based work. I’m gonna try and keep it creative so that all those things can be incorporated into The Front Bottoms.
“I had my little sister edit it – check for spelling, that kinda thing. It was like 500 pages and she gives it back to me with 400 pages cut out! But it’s good to have good editors in your life. That should be the last thing I say – it’s important to have good creative editors in your life so that you don’t release a 500-page book about nothing.”
Taken from the November issue of Upset, out now. The Front Bottoms are currently touring the UK. Their remaining dates are as follows: Manchester, O2 Ritz (22nd November), Birmingham, O2 Institute (23rd), Newcastle, Northumbria University (25th), Leeds, Beckett SU (26th), Bristol, Anson Rooms (28th), Southampton, 1865 (29th).