Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms Talks Songwriting & Teases Re-Releases

Words by Nick Hodgins
Photo by Mark Jaworski

It’s every young musician’s dream to start a band. To make great music, rock out with your friends, sell records, tour the country, even tour the world; to many it’s unfathomable; as for Brian Sella and The Front Bottoms, they’ve got big, big plans.

The Jersey-based foursome currently has two full length albums out, as well as two other albums packed to the brim with unreleased tracks they never expected would see the light of day. Now, fans are demanding them because they cannot get enough.

“It’s unbelievable,” says Brian Sella, front man and songwriter, for The Front Bottoms. “It always seems like just something that would not happen. You start a band, me and Matt [Uychich, drums] start a band a long time ago, and thought, this will be fun to do, and it’ll kill some time.” Years later, they’re doing much more than killing time, as fans sing along in cars, showers and venues across three different continents.

With lyrics ranging from troubled relationships, lost love or just getting drunk with your friends, it’s hard not to stumble across something you can relate to in a Front Bottoms song.

“It’s pretty impressive how spot-on everybody can be when they’re singing the words,” says Brian. “Especially sometimes, I’ll forget the words and I’m just like ‘oh shit,’ and people are singing and it’s like ‘oh cool, save my ass.’ That’s pretty crazy to be able to have that experience on stage.”

A long ways from the basements of New Jersey, The Front Bottoms are now selling out venues across the country, as well a recent European tour, and a second one in the works. This past December has been the first real break the band has had since they began touring about a year and a half ago. Now, with a month’s rest, their bags packed and a clean van; The Front Bottoms are ready to get back on the road.

The Hot Chocolate Tour ‘14 began this past week at the Pyramid Scheme in Michigan, along with guests Kevin Devine, You Blew It! and The Wild. The Front Bottoms have played the Pyramid Scheme a few times before, but this is their first time headlining. From beers and goofing around, to performing for 2 hours on stage, Brian explained his attitude as a headliner versus opening up.

“Well, if you’re the opener it’s cool, you’re just kinda loading your stuff up, you’re playing as hard as you can for 45 minutes and then you’re hopping off the stage,” explains Sella. “But as the headliner, people are there to see you, they expect a good show FROM YOU specifically, so y’know it’s something that we try to keep in check.”

It’s not simply the songwriting that makes a Front Bottoms track so authentic though, but rather how Sella presents them. Whether it be singing, speaking or even groaning the lyrics at times, you can tell he stands behind every story, confession or dream he’s ever written about. We had a chance to breakdown his songwriting process.

He says, “Always the lyrics first, very few times have I had a guitar riff that I’m basing lyrics off of, it usually starts with the lyrics and then all goes on top of that.” Maybe lacking a bridge or a verse, he then takes it to Matt to further work on, and later to Tom Warren (bass) and Ciaran O’Donnell (keys/trumpet/guitar) for added flavor. “Personally, I don’t like to think about it too much. I like to keep it pretty natural,” he says suavely. “Whatever we get, whatever the feeling comes with the songs, that’s just what it is.”

So will we be seeing new songs any time soon? “Slowly but surely,” Brian answers, “It’s a constant process of writing new music, lots of ideas and pieces.” With more time off he hopes to get the band together and “create something good.” Someday, we may even see a re-release of those aforementioned “other two albums”.

But for now, just about the next 20 consecutive days actually, you can find The Front Bottoms anywhere from New York to California. After that, it’s off to Europe before they say au’voir and head back to North America for a three day festival in Montreal called Pouzza Fest.