The Neighbourhood can be looked at as an overnight success. Their infectious single, “Sweater Weather” took over the alternative airwaves in 2012, and officially went double platinum this year. Since releasing their first full length album, I Love You in 2013, The Neighbourhood have been on a non stop rock adventure playing shows across the globe.
SWIFT ONES Caught up with frontman, Jesse Rutherford and guitarist, Zach Abels in Toronto to talk about their journey thus far and their journey to becoming the biggest band in the world.
When Sweater Weather was first released on the radio, there was virtually no information about The Neighbourhood online. Why was it important to stay so “mysterious” in the beginning?
Jesse Rutherford: It was definitely a conscious thing, but it wasn’t like we were betting things off. Honestly, there was nothing to know about us. We were nobody. None of us had been in other old bands, there wasn’t really any dirt to find out, we were fuckin’ 5 kids from the suburbs of California that were like, yeah, we’re just buds who thought of a cool idea.
Zach Abels: Yeah, it wasn’t like, “Oh it would be so cool to be so mysterious”, It was more of- we just wanted the music to speak for itself at first before everything else was attached with it.
Jesse: We still had a band member who was in high school when we got a record deal and that song came out…..I don’t think everyone was ready to be like, “alright! Cameras, music videos! like stages, even.
Zach: Like this interview, at first when you threw me into it, I probably wouldn’t have been as comfortable as I am now.
What are some of the pros and cons that have come along with your quick success?
Jesse: It’s not like we were Justin Bieber young when it happened, that’s when it’s like, you get to this age now (22 years), and you’re socially inept and you’re a fucking weirdo. Luckily we made it past there.
What was the first big purchase you made?
Zach: I think it was the same thing for me and Jesse. A car.
Jesse: I got an Escalade.
Zach: I got a Mercedes.
You guys are from California. I’m not sure if you know the bar, Sayers in Los Angeles?
Jesse: Yeah, we played there once!
The cover band plays some of your music. How do you feel when you hear someone covering one of your songs?
Jesse: I don’t really like listening to them. They make me really nervous. It’s like American Idol to me, and that shit freaks me out. Watching people do that is really nerve racking for me. And when it’s our own song…
Well, I don’t want to be, because that’s not really fair. And I want to think of it in the way that, “Yo dude, someone is covering one of your songs, that’s amazing!” And it is. And that’s how I leave it, and that’s how I really do feel about it, it’s just hard for me to watch it. I’ve had people ask if they can sing one of our songs in front of me, and I’m like, please don’t do that! I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re fucking brilliant but please don’t.
SWIFT ONES Names The Neighbourhood’s Jesse Rutherford a Style Icon from Swift Ones on Vimeo.
If you could pick one song that best describes you, what would it be?
Jesse: Studio by SchoolBoy Q
Zach: Another Space Song by Failure. Not even just lyrically but musically it connects with me on a level that I can’t describe.
What’s next for The Neighbourhood?
Jesse: I don’t really think about short term goals too much, but I wanna be one of the biggest bands in the world. I wanna be a band that is actually important to people in the world because bands aren’t important to people in the world, anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there is a demographic of music listeners who have bands that mean a lot to them, but in the world, iconic bands do not exist anymore. Nobody cares about bands. I wanna make people care. I don’t want people to walk by us in a mall and have no clue who we are–not because I really want to be famous but because I want to do that for the band. When we were kids, there were bands who were cool and now bands are bull shit.
Zach: There are no iconic figures like Axl Rose of Guns and Roses or Slash. You see them walking around and go, “That’s Slash!” but any band that is doing well today, you wouldn’t recognize them if you saw them out.
Jesse: Maybe the lead singer. Maybe. But I’m talking like, there are definitely songs that you hear and you know but you have no clue what these dudes look like. And it’s just like why? what happened?
Zach: Growing up I loved Metallica and I wanted to look just like them, but now there really isn’t any of that.
Jesse: Well now, the modern day rock star is just a different thing. Justin Bieber who is the biggest pop icon in the world is WAY more bad ass than any band member you can name. 100 per cent. Bands are kind of dorks now.
Photos: Katie Sadie
Interview: Trishelle Esposito
Photo Assistant: Kimberly Harkness
Creative Direction: Katie Sadie and Trishelle Esposito (SWIFT ONES)