Exclusive Interview: In the Back Seat with Backseat Vinyl

“Coors Light!” was Clara’s response when asked what kind of beer she and her Backseat Vinyl bandmates preferred.

This modest request set the tone for what turned into a two-hour interview– “interview” being an extremely loose term. Basking in Santa Barbara sunlight, we were able to catch up with Nate Fuller (rhythm guitar and vocals), Keenan Clarke (drums), and Clara Louise (bass) halfway through their first full-length tour. With “Rip it Up” by Orange Juice on repeat (Clara says “no one’s complaining”), Backseat Vinyl toured up the coast from San Diego to Seattle, promoting their newly-released album Sad Frenzy.

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Photo via Kendall Meleski

In describing the process that went into creating material for Sad Frenzy–almost Dad Frenzy, thanks to autocorrect– Clara describes how

“[Nate] goes crazy for four days and writes and writes and writes and hits [the band] with a demo.”

That process repeats itself until there are enough demos to make an album, and then the band goes into the studio,

“Get[s] fucked up, verbally abused and does [their] parts.”

But despite the booze and verbal abuse that flow freely through studio sessions, the band nonetheless says that when it comes to making an album, they

“aren’t really risk takers,” but instead “like to plan huge.”

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Photo via Ezykiel Vigil 

The careful planning of the album is obvious: Sad Frenzy is bandcamp pop-punk transformed into a true studio album. They have all the makings of great punk–aggressive guitar, powerful drums, thrumming bass lines, and vigorous vocals–yet, they also maintain a controlled, detailed sound. I like to think of them as polished punk.

When asked what genre they’d describe themselves as, they each have their own answer:

“beach punk,” “indie,” and “alternative.”

Each of their distinct personalities is reflected in their musical interpretations. Keenan’s enthusiasm is reflected in the frenetic energy of the drums. Clara’s easy-going, but self-assured demeanor comes through in the nonchalance and confidence of her bass playing. Nate’s controlled quirkiness shines through in his vocals and guitar.

Without being asked, Nate tells me his biggest fear on tour is getting fat. He tells me he first got BO when he was nine. He is honest and quirky, outspoken and introspective.

Keenan is pure stoke. He loves what he does, and he’s nothing less than ecstatic to be where he is. He gives the impression of a kid in a candy shop: energetic and electrified, ready to ingest all the sweets he can get his hands on.

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Photo via Eros Surya

Clara, the newest member, fits in like the missing piece of the puzzle. She started as a fan, but has found her own niche in the band, “help[ing] them appreciate it more.” She’s young, she’s spunky, and she has damn good taste in music (though given the overlap in our tastes, I may be a little biased).

Backseat Vinyl is the ideal mix of individuality. If there is one word that embodies the band, it is authenticity. In both their music and their personalities, they are uniquely and unapologetically themselves. This blend of individuality and authenticity spawns music that is distinct, creative, and totally bangin’.

Their musical chemistry translates into their friendship; they get on like a house on fire.They rip on each other, they laugh together, they discuss everything from serial killers to bands they love. They are the best of friends and the best of bandmates. In a discussion between Nate and Clara regarding their friendship, Nate provides a nice summation of the relationship between the three of them:

“Oh yeah, fuck you. It’s just my ‘I love you.’”

Despite being what Nate would call “new meat on the block,” the band already has an impressive rap sheet. Having opened for Vundabar and The Frights, Backseat Vinyl is knee-deep in the alternative scene and is sure to go deeper. They are an authentic, passionate, and talented cast of characters.

Every so often, among the effortless conversation, Nate would look at me and ask, “So, what’s your next question?” And the conversation would go a little something like this:

“What do you want my next question to be? What do you want the people to know?”

“Tell them we eat Doritos every other day… the ones in the purple bag.”

And that is the essence of Backseat Vinyl.

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Photo via Eros Surya

If you liked this post, be sure to check out our initial reaction to Sad Frenzy.