wsg. Phoebe Ryan, Machineheart
The Stache, Grand Rapids
Oct. 21, 6 p.m. doors
$15 adv, $17 day of show
Sectionlive.com, (616) 451-8232
Since the sudden success of their song “Dreaming” last summer, the members of L.A. band Smallpools have been living out some of their wildest musical fantasies.
Fresh from their first trip to Japan, lead singer Sean Scanlon told REVUE about their new life on the road, opening huge shows for the likes of Walk The Moon, Grouplove, Twenty One Pilots, and Two Door Cinema Club, as well as their whirlwind experiences at such massive music festivals as Lollapalooza and Firefly, and the thrill of having a song on the radio.
“There are definitely moments when you stop and look at all these people in the crowd who are there for you, and you’re like, ‘Holy crap, from being a valet in Los Angeles, broke as hell, to writing a few songs, how did all this come to be?’” Scanlon said. “And then you come right back to reality and [remember] this is really fragile too. I need to keep writing good songs.”
Starting out playing piano in middle school, Scanlon soon picked up the guitar and started his first “little MySpace band” about ten years ago, back home in New York. From there he just kept honing his craft, before following a friend out to L.A. in hopes of possibly becoming a songwriter.
On the drive across the desert, with longtime friend and Smallpools guitarist Mike Kamerman, Scanlon rediscovered the New Radicals’ underrated 1998 LP, and its once-ubiquitous hit “You Get What You Give.”
“My parents had this little cabin on a lake in New York and we would drive there every weekend in the summer, and my dad would play that CD,” Scanlon said. “I didn’t really care at the time, but then I saw the light. It’s some of the best songs and creative writing ever.”
Bonding over that record’s catchy melodies and pointed lyrics, Scanlon and Kamerman struggled while working day jobs in L.A., with karaoke nights soon emerging as their only escape, and a much-needed outlet to perform.
Eventually they teamed up with bassist Joseph Intile and drummer Beau Kuther, who had also moved to L.A. from Oregon after years of trying to make it in the music business themselves.
“We were all kind of thinking it might be the end of our music career,” Scanlon said about the start of Smallpools. “Everyone was feeling that this was our last shot at this, so let’s really do something good.”
Things then quickly materialized for Smallpools after recording just three songs, with “Dreaming” racking up over ten million plays online in under a year.
“There’s something about that song, I don’t know what we stumbled on to, but it gets everybody dancing like crazy,” Scanlon said. “I don’t know if it’s just the perfect tempo, or just the right chords or something, but I see everybody out there losing their sh*t and it’s fun to watch.”
With the release of their debut LP LOVETAP! earlier this year, the band hasn’t slowed down, as they continue to chase their dreams on the road.
“I’m looking forward to making it our own and giving people the Smallpools experience,” Scanlon said of their upcoming fall tour. “We’ve done two headliners now, and it’s really fun to interact with fans and tell stories about where songs came from, and just do whatever we want. It’s just a fun little party.”