Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich have known each other since their preteen years, and their long, deep personal connection has played a big part in working together as The Front Bottoms.
“We don’t really have to worry about hurting each other’s feelings because we’ll always just know that everything will be fine between us,” explains Sella. “We know that we’ll always be having a good time with each other. … It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in.”
That relationship began when singer-guitarist Sella was 10 years old and drummer-bullhorn player Uychich was 8. Their high-school jams led to the formation of The Front Bottoms; Sella says the North Jersey-based rock band’s head-scratching name comes from a term Ben Kingsley used in the movie Sexy Beast.
“When we started, we were just grasping at straws,” Sella recalls. “We didn’t know of any venues. We kind of grew up with this basement mentality, and everybody around us sort of had the same mentality: You can play basements, and there will be people there. But if you play in a venue, there’s a chance nobody wants to pay $10 to come see you. We all discovered this fact around the same time, and that was it — everybody played basement shows.
“That never leaves you — those first shows,” he adds. “We still play relatively small shows, and they’re always so much fun, but there’s a certain atmosphere when you’re walking down the stairs into a crummy basement, trying to figure out where you’re going to plug things into. It feels great — this is what I was born from, so I have to respect it. And you earned your chops because you had to figure things out.”
A 12-song, self-titled Front Bottoms album was released in September 2011 on Bar/None Records. It’s filled with Sella’s witty, sarcastic and self-deprecating lyrics — and they’ve been interpreted and embraced by fans in different ways.
Sella says, “The one that always catches me off-guard is when people come up and say, ‘Is that song about me?’ This will be somebody I only just met briefly or I met one time at a show, and they really, really genuinely think that the song is about them. It feels so good because it’s like, ‘Wow, this person is really able to connect to something that I wrote.’ But in the back of my head, I’m thinking, ‘Come on. I don’t really even know you. How can this be about you?’ … But it’s great, an awesome feeling, to have somebody relate so hard to something that you [wrote].”
When The Front Bottoms finish up their latest tour, Sella and Uychich will focus on writing a new album. Sella says they already have about six songs finished — and it wouldn’t be out of character for one of them to see the light of day ahead of the next full-length effort.
“I’m a big believer in giving people new things as soon as possible — a single, a different shirt design or throw up some different press photos [on our Web site], just to keep it fresh,” he says.
— By Chris M. Junior
The Front Bottoms on tour (schedule subject to change):
* June 21: The Firebird — St. Louis
* June 22: Lincoln Hall — Chicago
* June 23: Galaxy CDs — Hamilton, Ohio
* June 25: Grog Shop — Cleveland
* June 26: Club at Water Street Music Hall — Rochester, N.Y.
* June 27: Union Transfer — Philadelphia
* June 29: Gramercy Theatre — New York
* June 30: Mission East — Cambridge, Mass.
* July 1: Ottobar — Baltimore
Photo by Lucia Holm