Get Cozy with Family of The Year at Bootleg (Interview & Preview)

Whether you’re week has been great or is in desperate need of a turn-around, Family of the Year is sure to make it a hell of a lot better with their EP release show this Thursday at Silverlake’s Bootleg Bar. This folk-pop band will send you through the clouds and back to 1969 with their infectious sounds that even Steven Tyler describes as “the Mamas and the Papas on acid.” Call it whatever you want, but its bands like Family of the Year that find music lovers lost for words. But then again, when it sounds this good – do you really need to explain it?
Rather than try and tackle that task ourselves – we caught up with Sebastian Keefe of the band on the eve of their release event(s) to learn a bit more about their sound and where it developed from.
SUPERGOOD: Your first album seemed to capture a different genre in each song, (elements of synth-rock, reggae, pop, etc; ie. “The Barn” was more synthesized) but always with a strong underlying folk sound. However, your latest EP seems to combine all these genres into every song but also the new EP has more of a quintessential rock sound compared to your previous releases. Were your prior releases an experiment in some way to get to this point or did this sound come from something else?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: We wanted the new album to have continuity, and be more focused. We worked to trim the songs and make them a little more punchy and direct. Wally Gagel, our amazing producer and friend, steered the ship and kept the energy focused.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: What would you say led to this change in direction?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: Mainly the ability to work in such an amazing studio environment. The songs were sorted out before we began recording. Wally wanted to capture what we sounded like live – we recorded alot of it live, together.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: Your lyrics cover so many different emotions and tell such great stories….where do they originate from?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: They come from different places, sometimes we project the way we want to be feeling, sometimes we tell true stories. Often we write as a group – as a message to both ourselves and to those who listen.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: Do you all share in the creation process lyrically? Musically?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: Most of it comes from Joe. Almost all of the structures and melodies come from Joe. As a group, we collaborate mostly on lyrics.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: Did the writing process for these tracks differ from previous writing sessions?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: Not really, it was a similar process. Some songs were finished before the group heard them, others were entire collaborations.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: Coming from such different places, how did you guys end up connecting with each other?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: Joe and I are brothers who grew up on an island in massachusetts. We met James in Boston some years ago. James was an audio engineer where he met Joe during a session. He also played in a band around town- we quickly became friends. The three of us moved to LA a few years ago and met Chrissy shortly afterward. At Cha Cha I think.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: How do your personal backgrounds play into or inform the music you make?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: It plays into it. We had diverse upbringings- Florida, orange county, and Marthas vineyard, quite different outlooks, and musical heritages. but we’re all from (mostly) sunny places.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: What current bands are you guys listening to and drawing from? Who are your inspirations and influences?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: I’m listening to Grouplove and Hooray For Earth. They are our friends, and definitely two of the best bands out there right now. I grew up listening to lots of stuff: Supergrass, Carole king, the Beach Boys. There really isn’t a type of music we don’t like or draw from in some way.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: With the release of St. Croix, can fans expect a tour in the near future? Are there any venues you are dying to play?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: Yes! We are planning to tour alot next year. There will be dates coming soon. We really want to play the Greek Theater in LA, it’s one of our goals.
SUPERGOODMUSIC Speaking of touring, has your experience on the road taught you any lessons that you’d want to share with other artists that have yet to get that sort of opportunity?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: It’s always worth the few extra bucks for a slightly better motel.
SUPERGOODMUSIC: Any complaints about the music industry thus far?
FAMILY OF THE YEAR: No complaints, it’s a challenging business to be in. A friend of ours once reminded us that “you knew it was a snake when you picked it up”.
The first 100 attendees of the show at Bootleg Bar will get a copy of the new EP for FREE. Get tickets here.

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