From left to right: Mike Kamerman, Beau Kuther, Sean Scanlon, Joe Intile (Photo credit: Dan Monik)
"We’re flattered that everyone is reacting the way that they are - we definitely didn’t expect the reaction to be this good." - Smallpools frontman Sean Scanlon
For most bands, it would take years before they develop that breakout hit track that would propel them into national recognition, but this is not the case for the fast-rising group Smallpools whose single “Dreaming” had reached the number one spot on Hype Machine before they even celebrated their one year anniversary. In their first national tour, their New York performance at Bowery Ballroom (July 22) had seen a devoted fan base filled with screaming girls and raging bros as they listened to all four members of the band (frontman Sean Scanlon, guitarist Mike Kamerman, bassist Joe Intile and drummer Beau Kuther) played tracks off their new 'Smallpools' EP.
Despite their newfound success, the guys are still very grounded and know how have a good laugh. Read Smallpools' exclusive interview with VIBE below to get the skinny on their secret to make a Hype hit, the title of their upcoming album and what they've all been 'dreaming' about these days:
You guys have been together for less than a year and already your single “Dreaming” has reached the #1 spot on Hype Machine. What’s it like to experience success at such a fast rate?
Sean: We’re flattered that everyone is reacting the way that they are - we definitely didn’t expect the reaction to be this good.
How did you guys hook up in the first place? I understand Mike and Sean met Joe and Beau in LA, and what made the connection ‘click’ from there?
Sean: Yeah, Mike and I moved out from Jersey and New York to L.A. We spent the first year and a half kind of confused, working crappy jobs and finding as much time as possible between all that crap to write and start something. It got to a point where we were writing songs for other artists, and realized we were sick of it so we decided to start our own band.
Mike: Yeah, we decided that we would start this band, which was what we originally moved out [to L.A.] to do, but it just wasn’t happening between juggling work and friends. We actually met Joe maybe six months prior, and asked if he would consider starting a band with us. So we booked some recording time in Atlanta, even though we didn’t have any songs yet, just to make sure that we did it. Then right before we left, Joe mentioned that Beau had just moved to town from Oregon. He was working at a snowboard/apparel company, and luckily we clicked, plus he was willing to moved to Atlanta with us.
You mentioned crappy jobs. Could you name some of them?
Sean: When I first got to L.A., I answered a Craigslist ad for a valet job. It was actually a really lucky find, because I ended up being stationed in this super rich, glamorous building on the West Coast - like, Bruce Willis lived there, a lot of celebrities, crazy cars. It was a residency where people lived, but there were also a couple of model units that were just vacant, but completely furnished. So I was able to spend nights there and write music with the baby grand piano they had there. So that was a really cool perk to that job, because you can’t really play loud or sing in a one-bedroom apartment.
You’re music is constantly being compared to that of Passion Pit. Is that a deterrent or a compliment?
Sean: Who is this Passion Pit? I don’t understand. [laughs] It is flattering because they are in a very good position, but I think as more songs come out [Smallpools] is developing its own world and noise, I hope.
Mike: We are very eager to put out this collection of songs, because “Dreaming” has since been mistaken for Passion Pit or MGMT or Foster The People, which we’re all fans of. That’s why we’re looking forward to putting out our new EP in order to show that we’re not just ‘this,’ and so far I haven’t seen that many Passion Pit references.
Tell us about your new EP. First off, who’s that young stud on the cover?
Sean: It’s our producer, Ryan. We did a little show n’ tell in the studio and he showed us that picture. We were just floored by it and needed it to be out in the world.
Mike: The other producer (both are from the group Captain Cuts) is Ben Berger, so we might have to repay him after naming our album Ben Berger.
Is all the cover art in your singles and EP from family/friend’s photos?
Sean: Jax is our manager’s dog and he was in the “Dreaming” photo. It was just a random picture on my phone.
Mike: People kept sending us different things, and they were cool, but we’re trying to establish a unique look and vibe. “Mason Jar” was a picture on Instagram from a girl [Sean] knew.
Sean: Yeah, it just seemed to fit the vibe since “Mason Jar” has a more serious tone to the lyrics. There’s a lyric about trophy wives and daughters, so the picture kind of fit it.
How did you guys go about making the EP?
Sean: It starts as one little guitar lick or vocal melody over a certain chord progression that we think is worth pursuing. I mean, we come up with a million all day, but if there’s one we hit on then that’s the one we’re going to pursue. Then we all get in our room, and just jam it out for hours at a time to try to create this skeleton of a song with melodies overtop. Once we have that, it’s on me to write the lyrics where the melodies are. Afterwards, we bring it to the producers and they tell us what parts suck and which are really good, and just start to lay it down piece by piece.
You guys had a remix featuring Charli XCX and Twin Idol. Have you guys ever met or worked with the pair?
Sean: No, we really didn’t get in a room with her. We just sent them the vocal acappella and they gave us their rendition of it.
Mike: I think we ended up at a party with her a couple weeks before that. I’m curious; she probably doesn’t even know that we’re the same dudes. The song wasn’t out yet and it was just a random night.
What other producer’s in today’s music industry would you guys want to collaborate with in the future?
Sean: I haven’t really thought about that. We feel like we have this good creative energy going right now – the vibe in the studio with [Captain Cuts] is really good. We all laugh a lot and are very comfortable with putting together ideas and going out on a limb. That can be hard to maintain with a new producer.
How about rappers?
Beau: There was that crazy mashup by White Panda with our song and Ca$h Out. That was cool – it was fun to hear the music over rap lyrics.
Sean: There’s no boundaries. I’m down for anything if in the end it sounds like a cool new thing.
Mike: What we really want to do is rap on other people’s stuff.
Your music video for “Dreaming” features Sean caught in a random déjà vu situation while at house party. If you guys could live out a particular day or moment over and over again, what would it be?
Joe: I think the day we came back from our first recording session. We got our mixes back, and it was the first time we actually heard what this band was going to sound like. I was up in Portland visiting some friends, and I put my headphones on, went for a run, listened to the mixes for the first time, and was like, ‘oh, this actually sounds like a real band!’ That moment, that feeling, was pretty sweet.
Mike: Probably, when I saw ‘Home Alone’ for the first time.
Beau: I’d want to relive the ‘Goonies.’ Like, reenact that whole day over and over. That’d be fun; that was THE adventure.
Sean: There was a fun cruise once that I could keep doing.
What has been the best/weirdest dream you’ve ever experienced?
Beau: I had one reoccurring dream when I was a kid where I was always on a pirate ship, and we were sinking. The life rafts were giant hotdogs, and everyone was swimming on these hotdogs.
Sean: I was working so much at that valet job that I had this dream where I was in a Ferrari in the parking garage, and I just had no control over it. It was like bouncing off the ceiling and just smashing around, and all I could think of was how was I going to tell this guy that I smashed his car.
Mike: I remember having this one dream when I was a really little kid where I became friends with all the Power Rangers, and thought I was making some headway with the Pink Ranger. Then I woke up, and realized I was still six and still had school.
Sean: How were you six and knew that you wanted the Pink Power Ranger?
Joe: Oh, I knew!
Mike: I mean, it’s like a crush. You don’t know what you’re going to do with her, but…