Few rock bands are able to remain relevant in the ’10s. We don’t blame them; we live in an age where digital music production and social media are more accessible than guitar amps, music lessons and drum kits. On top of that, the sonic elements of rock have become a thing of the past; the popularity of the genre has long been surpassed by hip-hop, R&B, electronic, folk music and more. The bands that are exceptions and excel in such conditions like The Social Experiment, Death Grips, Trash Talk and Suicidal Tendencies succeed because they don’t limit themselves to the traditional rock sound.
Another group to embrace the rock star mentality without fully encompassing the genre’s stigmas are California band The Neighbourhood. Consisting of Jesse Rutherford, Zach Abels, Jeremy Freedman, Mikey Margott and Brandon Fried, the members — all of whom are in their early-to-mid twenties — the band incorporates a lot of alternative elements and aesthetics to their music. They’ve already collaborated with an eclectic bunch of rappers like YG, French Montana, Raury and Casey Veggies and see themselves as something more of a boy band than a rock band.
Don’t mistake them for a group that just meshes different old ideas together and calls it new; if the product does not sound entirely original, it will be scrapped or changed entirely. Jesse, the band’s frontman, has once shared: “There are a lot of artists making music that takes an old idea and just updates it for 2015. And sometimes it’s really good music, but it’s not really new. For us, if we’re working on a song and it reminds us of some other song, we’re automatically like, ‘Okay, so we can change everything, or just get rid of it altogether.’ We don’t ever want to sound like anything else or stay in the same place. We’ve progressed with every new thing we’ve done, and we’re just going to keep on progressing.”
We sat down with him to discuss the concept of a boy band, their reoccurring black-and-white theme, rock and hip-hop music and the band’s upcoming material.
You’ve called yourselves a modern boy band before. What does the term boyband mean to you and do you think your audiences see you as that?
I said a lot of sh*t that I thought I was sure about and then found out that I really wasn’t. With that being said, I think we are more of a band than ever and it feels great. I hope people take us for who we are: five decent looking boys with big ol’ juicy c*cks.
Tell us about the black and white theme, what it means, why you guys reinforce it, its limitations, and if it’s going to be a thing forever.
It makes us comfortable and it fits nice with the music. We have no plans on changing that anytime soon.
You’ve talked about how rock is pretty much dead. Is it the genre, sound, attitude, instrument-playing aspect that’s dead? Do you think there will be a revival in the future?
I guess when I said that, I was referring to the band being dead amongst pop culture. Like, who was the last guitar player or drummer that was a household name? I feel like Blink-182 was the last band that sh*t loads of people could name every member. It’ll come back around though, history repeats itself.
Do you feel the same about hip-hop?
Hip-hop is much different sonically, but I do believe the classic use of the term “rock star” and what it means could be more appropriate for a rapper in this day and age, simply because of the amount of media coverage.
Do you feel that there are elements in music that will remain the same throughout human history or do you think music is purely socially constructed and its “enjoyability” is subjective?
I think the formula for a good pop song is ever changing and constantly adapting with the times, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always good. Pop is a crazy genre because you might hate the same amount of songs as the amount of ones you like, but all of them get stuck in your head! Also, it depends on where people are gathering their statistics. You can be huge on the radio but have no presence on the Internet whatsoever. I would say to have both is what makes an icon, in my opinion. However, the Internet definitely weighs over radio, especially for upcoming generations.
Who are you guys listening to right now?
I listen to Young Thug and whatever new stuff I’ve been making. I know the boys are into the new Beach House. Dub Syndicate was another new find that everybody was jamming to.
What do you think the music scene will be like five years from now?
More people ripping off other people and getting away with it. History repeats itself!
What are you guys working on right now? Any collaborations?
More music. We jam a lot. There are always guitar jams going on in the buses, dressing rooms and hotels. We’d love to know who’d want to work with us. Until then, I’m cool just working with each other.
Their sophomore album WIPED OUT! will drop on October 30, pre-order it here.