Interview: The Neighbourhood Wants to Be the Biggest Band in the World
By Jeremy D. Larson
In bedrooms and basements all over the world there are kids dreaming of standing in front of 60,000 people at Coachella or Wembley Stadium. The hope of eventually facing an ocean of applause is always a hidden goal for bands, the motivation to go on grueling tours both physically and promotionally. There’s the idea that all the work of riding around in a van will lead to a moment where the adrenaline spikes more than ever before, that feeling that can indefinably be described as: “We made it.”
“I just want to shoot for the stars, and be the biggest band ever,” says guitarist Zach Ables with the straightest face, when asked what he was thinking when he started the band. Singer Jesse Rutherford echoed this later, saying he’s aiming for international renown with The Neighbourhood.
The attention of Columbia Records came from their two EPs, I’m Sorry… and Thank You, though more accurately from their ubiquitous 2013 single, “Sweater Weather.” Like in bedrooms and basements all over the world, the song started how most songs started.
“One day Jesse was at my house and I was playing guitar,” said Ables, “and he said, ‘Hey that’s pretty cool, let me record that.’ And it just so happened to be ‘Sweater Weather.’ When we got done writing the song, when it was all said and done we were like ‘Okay this is pretty good we should keep writing songs.”
“I think ‘Sweater Weather’ might’ve been the best song we’d ever written,” says Rutherford, “but I didn’t think it was going to be the best song we’d ever write. It was kind of like getting a Platinum record, like a little tap on the butt. ‘Good job, keep going.’”
The stayed at No. 1 on the Alternative chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks, and peaked No. 14 on the Hot 100. The song has spent 51 weeks on the Rock chart, still sitting at No. 6 this week. That’s enough to bolster any young band’s confidence.
Later in 2013, the band put out “Afraid”, which peaked at No. 5 on the Alternative charts. This week, they announced a slew of worldwide tour dates that’ll lengthen the shelf life of their 2013 LP, I Love You., and “Sweather Weather,” which by now has crossed over to multiple formats of pop radio. After riding these old songs, and even enlisting the surrealist savant rapper RiFF RAFF as an official member, it’s soon on to the next level for an L.A. band who wants it badly.
“We’re really privileged to have a platform at all, like that’s cool,” says Rutherford, checking in with reality. He’s sure to temper Ables’ comment from earlier in the interview too: “Like you know, ‘reach for the stars’ and all that, but when it comes down to it, I really like the way it feels to make music with my friends. “
Like any other kids, The Neighbourhood have dreams of getting their music to an endless sea of faces, but not just for the fame and fortune. It’s more the idea of wanting to share the love.
“I know it’s not on a global level yet, and I think we should be there,” admits Rutherford. “Maybe not right now, maybe we just didn’t do what needs to be done to be on a global level, and that’s fine we’ll work harder and be on a global level. I just think there’s a lot more to be said form our end. I just don’t know if everyone’s listening yet. And I don’t think they are. I know they’re not, and that’s okay, but we want that. We enjoy what we do so much, it’s almost hard sometimes not to have everyone in on this with us… It feels so good, I just want to share that with everyone.”