The Front Bottoms: “You wish the world would go in a direction where everyone is happy and accepting”

An interview with Brian Sella about touring, torments and Trump

The Front Bottoms: “You wish the world would go in a direction where everyone is happy and accepting”

By Will Whitby

Dec 5, 2016 15:59

A sold-out crowd at Manchester’s Ritz erupts as indie pop punk band The Front Bottoms take to the stage. A band that ahead of wave of indie rock influenced pop punk bands, inspired by the likes of the Get Up Kids, bringing joyous melancholy to the disenchanted youth of 2016. A room full of complete strangers purging out honest emotions in a collective space. Frontman Brian Sella sat down with Punktastic before the show and his attitude to both music and life was both infectious and admirable.

“2016 has been really good for us, we’ve basically spent all the time on the road and played probably over 200 shows. It’s satisfying to create this piece of art and then get to perform it,” Sella opened up, lounging on the sofa in the backstage area of the Ritz. “2016 has taught me to be more positive, be more confident and to take everything to the extreme.”

The group has just come off one of the most impressive tours of the year, touring big rooms and arenas across the USA with Brand New and Modern Baseball. “It was amazing. Brand New took really good care of us. There were so many people every night, we played the biggest shows of our career on that tour. I particularly liked getting to play in loads of random places where people don’t usually get to go.”

Having already toured the UK this year in February, this nationwide tour sees them take Gnarwolves, and Apologies I Have None on the road with them. “Crowds are a little freakier over here,” Sella laughed. “You’ve got to be pretty dedicated, passionate and punk rock to pull off being called The Front Bottoms over here.”

A Front Bottoms live show is one of exuberance, honesty and singalongs from the get-go, and tonight saw them play an impressive 20 song set-list from their five albums. With the highlight of the night being their standout song, ‘Twin Sized Mattress’, compiling indie and folk influences with deep emotion in the lyrics to showcase what kind of people The Front Bottoms are.

“Every night when we take the stage it’s a wow moment,” says Sella, gleefully recounting his initial feelings. “I get nervous and anxious before I take to the stage but the moment we hit the first chords and see everyone is loving it just takes you to a different place.” A testament that rang true on the first chords of ‘Skeleton’ as the show opened.

In preparation for the interview, we asked the fans of the UK pop punk Facebook forum what they wanted to know from the idolised frontman. In return was a thread of comments making dedicated puns and questions from the unique style in which Sella writes his songs. Lyrics which have such intricate detail and inlets of humour that fans latch onto and adore them. Some asked if Brian was still taking steroids (‘The Beers’), others asked does he still know CPR (‘Swear To God The Devil Made Me Do It’) and several wanted to know about Brian’s map on his wall (‘Maps’)

Upon finding out about this forum which shows such love to his band Sella was overjoyed and genuinely humbled. He then asked for a photo of him with a cheesy grin to be posted onto the page saying that they “all fucking rock.”

“When I write the songs in my notebook it feels so personal to me and to be able to meet people from all over the world and learn how much they mean to them is crazy,” Sella said, smiling from ear to ear. “I love it, I freaking love it.”

Each song takes on a different meaning to whoever is listening to it and ‘Father’, from their 2011 self-titled album, is one that always reminds Sella of this. “The lyrics are pretty intense. Some fans find that song funny as fuck and then others have come up crying saying it means so much to them. I let the song mean what it means to me and let everyone else figure out what it means to them.”

Sella went onto to discuss his amazement that songs like ‘Twelve Feet Deep’ that he wrote in his bedroom when he was 17 are still just as popular 11 years later. He also confirms that the band are gearing up to write a sixth album to follow up 2015’s ‘Back On Top.’

“All year I just try and write and write and write because we’re on the road so much. I construct the song together more in the studio but all the meat and potatoes come on the road. I love filling notebook after notebook,” he explains.

Conversation soon changed to arguably the biggest news of the past ten years; Donald Trump getting elected as president of the United States. The controversy sent shockwaves around the world but hit Sella at a personal level too and an issue which made him quite animated and riled up. “My girlfriend works in reproductive rights so he’s talking about throwing her in jail. He speaks so much hate, he doesn’t care about the environment. For me they are my two biggest things, women’s rights and the environment.

“You feel helpless but I believe it is important to take it all back to the community. Help your neighbours, love your friends and family,” Sella said in an attempt to remain positive.

“You wished a world would go in a direction where everyone is happy and accepting. What is going to be better in the long term? If you tell people to fuck off or if you say you love them and accept them for who they are?” he says. “It really fucking sucks.”

Music, however, has a unique power of protest. When the establishment and the world is falling apart music and the independent voice is always there. In the run-up to the election, various artists including, Modern Baseball and Death Cab For A Cutie, put out a collection of anti-Trump songs on the ’30 Days 30 Songs’ compilation.

Although Trump was still elected, the album is full of like-minded voices protesting for the greater good. “I do think because music is so emotional that there is the opportunity to say important things and spread a message of love,” Sella added.

The serious tone diminished rapidly at the end of the interview as we ask which three words sum up The Front Bottoms best. After some lengthy pondering, Sella replied with “squirt till-ya hurt.”

With news of the new album in the writing process, The Front Bottoms will continue to speak to the fans on a level that most artists can’t reach. With the group selling out bigger room on bigger tours with bigger bands things are looking good for group. But for now, it’s refreshing and pleasing to see a frontman with such dedication, kind nature and modesty to both his music and his fans.