I caught up with Sebastian from the almost insanely adorable Family of the Year to discuss their upcoming tour with Gold Motel. The band is from Silver Lake in Los Angeles and our of the band members, including Sebastian, are from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. One of them is from Orange County California, and then one is from Jacksonville, Florida. They will be playing DC9 tonight at 7.
How did you guys all come together?
The four of us from the Vineyard have been in many bands together. We all moved out to California, a little over 3 years ago with a different band, and it basically has evolved. Slowly, we made these new friends and we basically have evolved into this group. It was kind of a no-brainer. We were all playing music together and we were hanging out, so we basically just expanded our group with our new friends.
Were the bands you guys were in similar to Family of the Year?
Well it’s funny ’cause when we moved to California, we were [kind of] like a very heavy rock band. I guess you could say a “pop-rock” band that we played with in Boston for awhile. Then, we kind of evolved into more of a light-pop band and we were called The Billionaires. We played around Silver Lake for a year or so. After taking a little of a break, Family of the year started around last summer.
Wow, so you guys are fairly a new band then.
Yeah, we are quite new.
So then how many tours have you guys been on?
We basically toured all last fall, from September to Thanksgiving. We kind of broke that up into two separate tours with a week in between. And then we toured this March, including South By Southwest, and then we went back to LA for a few weeks and now we’ve been back on the road again for another month or so, or I guess, few weeks. We’ve actually played a lot more shows outside of Los Angeles than we have inside of Los Angeles.
How do you typically prepare for your tours? It must be nice having you brother with you as you tour, sort of like having a piece of home with you at all times.
Well, we kind of set up our life in a way that takes us very little preparation [to get ready for the tour]. All of us have downsized everything. We all live together in a very small apartment and we spend basically, all day, every day together playing music and recording in our rehearsal space. Preparation for the road is just typically doing laundry and having our van fixed, stuff like that. We all have left our jobs behind so we have a very simple life. We don’t have very many things holding us back to LA when we do decide to go out.
I guess you guys are really a family then, in a sense?
[Laughs] We have definitely evolved into a family. 5 of us have known each other since we were really little. We definitely know the ins and outs of all of us.
Family of the Year, where did that name come about?
Well, it came from a song we had written which we had never released. There is a song called Family of the Year that we have that I had always really liked but it didn’t really quite fit in the album or the EP’s we released. We liked how it sounded and the irony of, you know, all of these families that get these “Family of the Year” awards. It’s kind of happening across the nation. It’s kind of like every family, even if they seem perfect on the outside, has skeletons in the closet and we kind of think of it as B.S. I guess it’s a nice little bit of irony. We are a family. We consider ourselves a family but we also know that we have our imperfections.
Do you guys do a lot of your writing on tour?
No, we don’t. Most of the writing occurs in Los Angeles at our rehearsal space. Basically, we record all of our music; we record all of the music that we have put out. We’re either practicing or messing around. We’re recording or starting a new project, and then by the night, we have a new song. We don’t really have much of a chance to write on the road and the main songwriters in the band, Joe and Meredith, don’t really have much free time to do stuff on the guitar. A lot of the writing happens when we are at home.
Your album, Songbook, seems to have a lot of metaphors that relate to nature. Are you guys really into nature and seasons changing?
Yeah, there are some metaphors in there but really, it really a lot of times is being quite literal. [Laughs] We are children of the woods, and of the beach, and of the ocean. We’re from a really beautiful island and we grew up exploring the woods and exploring ourselves in the woods, with our friends. We have spent countless hours sitting around fires with our friends, basically just enjoying the simple wonders of the world. It’s the way we were brought up! Our parents generation were coming from a place where there were a lot of hippies, in the 70’s, and then we all came along in the 80’s and kind of took it from them. We grew up around bonfires with our parents and their friends, singing, passing guitars around. We just kind of took it from there! It’s really just a part of who we are!
Was there a hard or weird transition moving from Martha’s Vineyard to California?
There definitely was a transition. I wouldn’t say it was hard. We started really pursuing music very seriously at a pretty young age. Farley and I, the bass player, and I were playing shows in New York when we were 12 and 13. My brother, Joe, and his band when he was in high school moved off to Boston. They were playing some shows New York and Boston before they had graduated high school. So I guess going back, it wasn’t really a hard transition because we followed what we really wanted and loved to do. We had [the music] the whole time. We try to get out of the city and out into the woods and the desert. We really do try to embrace nature.
What can we expect from the tour and you guys?
I guess to see 6 very happy people! It’s pretty obvious that we are all together and are all on the same page. We like to have a good time and give people a good time! We like to think that our music draws people in. You get to experience a little bit of us! We like to bring our little, happy, family vibe wherever we go!