Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
This event is all ages.
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box Office Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.
The story of Smallpools is mostly a series of happy coincidences. Vocalist Sean Scanlon and guitarist Michael Kamerman met at SXSW in 2007 while both of them were playing in different bands. After forging a friendship based on a mutual love of music and a shared frustration of not seeing their respective bands actually take off, the two eventually decided to join forces and, ultimately, leave the East Coast behind. Moving to LA in 2011 (“We threw all of our stuff in a van and drove cross country from New Jersey,” says Kamerman), both musicians had no solid plan other than to try and make music and not starve to death in the process. “It just seemed like eventually something would have to happen,” recalls vocalist Sean Scanlon. As luck would have it, eventually something did. After randomly crossing paths with bassist and recent Portland transplant Joe Intile (who, in turn, would randomly cross paths with drummer Beau Kuther, himself recently uprooted from Portland and dropped in Los Angeles for work), the newly assembled band booked some studio time in Atlanta to bang out three songs that would ultimately serve as a template for their burgeoning sound.
“We had a lot of random ideas when we started,” says Kamerman, “But once we kind of hit on the sound, I think we all knew it. We grew up listening to the same stuff that our parents loved—Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Springsteen, Elton John—so the goal was always to push ourselves in writing what we thought were good songs. The actual sound of it just sort of came from this new world we suddenly found ourselves living in. After a year of really struggling in LA, the songs became the way out.”
Recorded with up-and-coming LA production team Captain Cuts, the tracks on the band’s 2013 debut EP, Smallpools, showed a band coming into their own. Breakout track “Dreaming” brought the band national attention (including a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live) and the song eventually managed to rack up over 4.5 million views. Though the band were eager to get to work on a full-length debut, they would spend the better part of the next year touring all over North America with the likes of Walk The Moon, Neon Trees, Grouplove, MS MR, Twenty One Pilots and Two Door Cinema Club (not to mention stops at both Lollapalooza and Firefly Festival, along with their own year-capping headline tour). The time spent on the road proved to be a valuable lesson for the band, in more ways than one.
“As we were writing these songs we were also playing live a lot, which really affected the dynamic of the music,” says Scanlon. ”You know, we were initially out there as the opening act a lot of the time and we had to make the most of that experience. We were lucky to tour with bands that were we toured with. You have the opportunity to get up there in front of someone else’s audience and prove yourself. It was like school for us, like a crash course in how to play to your strengths and win over an audience. It’s also a chance for people to discover you and slowly grow a fanbase of your own.”
The fourteen tracks that make up Lovetap!—the band’s full-length debut—show off the evidence of over a year spent playing live. Recorded once again with production team Captain Cuts in between touring stints, the new record builds on the promise of Smallpools’ earlier music: stadium-sized pop anthems with the kind of choruses that basically beg to be sung along to. Tracks like “Dyin’ To Live” and “American Love” spring out of the gate with the kind a kind of urgency and hyper-melodicism that earlier Smallpools tracks only hinted at. Given that all four band members are seasoned musicians, the pristine pop of Smallpools music is no accident. The airtight songs dip and soar at all the right moments thanks to the no bullshit indie-pop hooks that seem to be embedded in their DNA. The quantum leap forward on Lovetap! is the result of endless touring, lots of experimentation, and, as Kamerman describes it: “Being locked in a room together for long hours to write songs and figure out our roles in the band.” Nowhere is this more evident than on “Karaoke,” the album’s anthemic and wonderfully big-hearted first single.
“I actually used to hate karaoke,” explains Scanlon, “But when Mike and first moved to LA—before Smallpools was really a thing yet—we used to do karaoke all the time. We used to always sing that New Radicals’ song ‘You Get What You Give’ because it kind of made us feel better. We were working so much just to pay our rent, it was hard to even find the time to get together and make music. Doing karaoke became this weird outlet for us just to perform. We could go out and sing a song that we loved that made us feel inspired, like we could eventually make our own songs. I remember driving to work after a late night of drinking and singing and feeling like, ‘OK, we’ve got it in us to do this!’ It’s about celebrating and performing with your friends. It’s life affirming, you know?”
2015 looks to be a big year for Smallpools. With their long-in-the-works debut finally out in the world, the band is looking forward to an abundance of touring as well as their first ever stop at SXSW. More than anything though, each member of the band is happy to so many years of hard work finally begin to truly pay off. “We’ve all done our time working on a million projects that didn’t make it,” confers drummer Beau Kuther. “And just when you start to think it’s time to maybe give up, suddenly everything you’ve been working for suddenly starts to come together. It’s kind of like falling in love, as soon as you stop trying so hard, then it happens. That’s basically the story of our band.”