Poolside, the California-based disco-pop band that began as a bedroom project and has since caught the attention of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, played for several thousand fans over the summer and will be performing during this weekend's Grandoozy Festival.
Ahead of Poolside's Denver performance, founding member Jeffrey Fare spoke with Westword about playing the first year of the big Superfly festival, shooting a music video with skater Braydon Szafranski, new music and reuniting with old pals from the defunct band the Rapture.
Westword: Who’s officially in Poolside right now? There's you, Mattie from the Rapture, Brijean Murphy from Toro y Moi...
Jeffrey Fare: Vito from the Rapture as well. Mattie Safer, singer and bass player in the Rapture. We’ve added him for select shows, but I think it’s going to be all of them going forward. Casey Butler on sax and synthesizer. He plays in a group called Pharoahs. They’re kind of an experimental techno band out of L.A.
They’re awesome, they're on 100% Silk, the label. If you’re into left field techno, you might know them. Otherwise maybe not, but they’re fucking cool.
What’s it like having so many people in your band now?
It’s fucking awesome. I mean, we’ve all been friends for a really long time. Well, we’ve met Brijean recently, but she’s super-cool.
All the dudes have known each other for a long time. It actually feels really good. It’s like hanging with your homies, and then you get to be in a band together, too. It’s great.
Would you say that forming another band with the Rapture was a long time coming?
What do you mean, ‘"A long time coming"? I don’t know what you mean [laughs].
Well, didn’t you have another band previously?
Yeah. We were in a band together previously and concurrent with the Rapture. We were all members, so, yeah, we had a lot of overlap there.
I’ve been collaborating in various ways and just sending files, asking advice over the years. We’ve all been musically in each other’s orbit for twenty years now.
In some ways, yes, it’s been a long time coming. I just never really expected to start a band back up again with them. But, you know...God was on our side.
How do you feel like all these new members have affected your sound?
I can only really say it to the live show. It feels really…I don’t know the perfect words, but it just feels like it’s jelled a lot. It feels like a band in a unique way, like that specialness when you see a band and it feels like a band instead of just a bunch of musicians. It has that feeling. I don’t know if there’s a word for that, but that word [laughs].
There’s a lot of synergy between everyone.
Exactly. Vito and Mattie have been playing together forever, and they’re the rhythm section, so you can just lock that in. We’ve been through a lot together. It’s really band-y in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I enjoy it.
Is there more music on the way?
The five of us that we just discussed went in there and tracked as a live band. I haven’t really gone through the session much, but there’s definitely some cool stuff in there and a bunch of demos on the way. I’m hoping to finish an album pretty soon.
How long ago exactly did you ditch the poolside pool-house studio?
Well, our friend whose house it was in, she moved. That’s the only reason it got ditched. I guess that was probably two, three years ago...two, maybe? Filip Nikolic, who produced and worked on the records, he set up a new studio in his backyard, but, yeah. The pool house studio had to go, sadly.
Our friend Ann Lee, it was her house. She’s real cool. Her place was sort of a center hub for musicians and DJs, and they’d roll through her house and stay there while on tour, whatever. We turned her pool house into a recording studio, and it was awesome [laughs].
It’s a really great DIY sort of thing to do. You had Brayden Szafranski skate around for the “Feel Alright” video; was there a previous relationship there, or did you become buds on set?
It was the latter. I wanted a skateboarder that was kind of a cool, legit, kind of like the origin of the punk-rock skateboarder dude, not like an X-Games guy. I have a bunch of friends from the skateboarding world, so I just asked a friend of mine, “If you know Brayden, he’d be perfect for it.” And of course, she did, and our friend Lindsey Byrns connected us.
We hit it off, but we’d never actually met, so it was a little crazy. We took like five days to shoot that video, and we’d met in Arizona and had to spend 24 hours a day together. He was game for it, which was awesome, and now we’ve become buddies. He’s come out to a couple shows, and we kick it when I’m in L.A. and he’s got time, too.
He’s fucking awesome. He’s a really cool dude and a really great skater. He really owned that video with very little direction. Just on a road trip with a skateboard, and we were able to pull that off.
That’s great. It’s also great that he's a cool person, as opposed to being an awful one that you had to spend time with for that long!
Yeah, and he didn’t know that I wasn’t a terrible person, either [laughs]! We just both were going for it. It turned out great, and he’s just a fucking cool dude to hang with. It couldn’t have been better, honestly.
Are you much of a skater?
Former. I still skid on a board once in a while. It was my life for maybe four, five years through high school and a couple years after high school. I just…music kind of took over, and it started hurting more and more when you fell. I wasn’t good enough to stick with it as a serious thing, but I still love the culture and watch skateboarding videos on my phone all the time. I’m blown away by it.
I wish I was good at it enough to take the pain, but I’m not. I still skate once in a while, though.
Skating is not for the weary.
Yeah, no shit [laughs].
Did you have any reservations about playing Grandoozy? With it being the first year of a big music festival…
I mean, not specifically. Only generally speaking. Yeah, sometimes people overlook things that they can only know in hindsight, so there’s a little bit of risk there. But not because of Grandoozy or Colorado or anything like that.
It’s a little risky, but, you know, clearly, we’re risk takers. We default to just going for it.
What’s been the most fun you’ve had performing live this summer?
Well, this tour that we’re on right now, I would just say that we’ve added the saxophone and the synths. We did Outside Lands in San Francisco, and that was just a real moment for us, for sure, with over 30,000 people — the most we’ve ever played to by far. It just was really this moment where you’re like, “Oh shit, whatever we’re doing is working.”
This idea you have, how this could go in a best-case scenario...it was totally happening right in front of us. I would say that was like a real moment where I felt super-proud and super-good. When you see something come to life that you’ve always wanted, it’s just…it was incredible. It was definitely a moment.
Can you pinpoint why it’s working now?
Generally speaking I can, which is a story that can relate to a lot of Poolside stuff: It started as a bedroom, aka pool-house, project, that was never expected to be serious or take up a lot of time. We expected it to be really niche and expected to get maybe two or three gigs a year with it.
Immediately, it was clear that it was bigger than that, but we never knew how to treat it. We took it seriously when making the music, but we just never really envisioned it becoming something so significant. We just kept always thinking, someday we’ll go back to normal lives, so we never did stuff to kind of lay the foundation if you’re going to take something seriously.
It’s kind of confusing to say that, because it sounds like we were not serious. There was just an assumption that life would take over soon enough. So now we’re treating it like this is a thing we should be doing, and that’s been dramatic.
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