With their introspective calm and Venice Beach demeanor, these guys from Charlotte, North Carolina know how to make every performance dynamic and every conversation mellow. I got to sit down with Matt Padgett and Michael Finster from the band to talk a little about their favorite bands, life on the road, and what living “Life Underwater” actually means.
How did you guys all get together?
Michael Finster: A few of us had known each other for a really long time. Me and Grant [Harding], our keyboardist, formed our first band together when we were 14 years old. It was kind of a joke band. We stopped for a while, and then we met Matt. It was great. A lot of good writing. A good time. Then throughout the course of time, we met Drake in Charlotte. We connected with him, and he came along with us on trips and filled in on bass randomly. And that’s how we were born. It’s been a nice time.
This has been a pretty big tour for you guys, touring with Terraplane Sun and Little Daylight.
MF: Yeah! It’s about a six-week tour. It’s wild.
How has life been on the road for you guys?
Matt Padgett: Great. Incredible. And then awful at times. It’s been really cold [on the East Coast], and I don’t own a coat. Or thermals. So I was kind of freaking out. I also just got a girlfriend right before we left for the tour, so those are the bad parts. The good parts: love playing with the other bands. Love living with my band. They’re the loves of my life. Love drinking at 11 in the morning.
MF: I was chatting with Lyle [Riddle], the drummer from Terraplane Sun — really cool guy — and we were laughing because you go on tour, and you can get sort of bipolar. One minute you’re like, “This is the dream!” The next minute it’s 3am and you’re trying to sleep and someone is blaring music that you don’t want to hear. You just get sick of it, so sometimes it’s the best, and then it’s not necessarily great. But it’s all worth it. You remember the high points in the end.
I’ve noticed that the lyrics on your newest album, your self-titled album, are grounded in the theme of second chances. The lyrics “I want to turn back the time” from “Holy Ghost” and “Give me one more night” from “Break the Sky” gives you the feeling of going back. Was that your intention?
MF: The songs are a little spread, a little older, written by Drake in another time. I think the vibe of the album is a sort of wild freedom. There’s a second chance theme, and when you say that, it makes total sense, and the beauty of music is the different interpretations people have of the songs, but a lot of the album has songs about a free-spirited, wild excitement. There is an escapism that is really exciting.
MP: Maybe escapism is when the second chance didn’t work out.
MF: When you spread out what you’ve written over time, you feel differently, so different things can come out. The beauty of music and art is to look at it in a way that connects to you the most.
Are your lyrics inspired by the music or does the music come first?
MP: Music comes first. In the latest songs we’ve written, Drake won’t even write the lyrics until the day we track in the studio. He wants them to be fresh, and he wants to feel the lyrics. If he sang them a hundred times before he tracked them, they wouldn’t be as powerful to him.
MF: What typically happens is we write the music, Drake will mumble some nonsense to get the melody out, and then the lyrics will come last.
If you could tour with any band or artist, who would you tour with?
MP: Radiohead is the only band that stands the test of time for me in my life.
MF: It depends. I would love to play in stadiums. Touring with U2 would be incredibly exciting. Radiohead. Coldplay. All of them would be unbelievable.
On your record, you have two songs, “Hollywood Underwater” and “Life Underwater.” Are the names similar on purpose? Explain.
MF: “Hollywood Underwater” is essentially about sinking ideas. “Life Underwater” is about being involved in something where you’re essentially drowning, like a situation in your life.
MP: Like with my ex. I didn’t realize I was living underwater until now, and I’m having the best time of my life. I love music more than I ever have before.
MF: They both have the same kind of names, but very different ideas. “Hollywood Underwater” is about not liking certain ideas and certain negative things that are going on in the world and wanting to drown them. It’s a little more violent. “Life Underwater” is about feeling like you’re being held underwater in a situation and not being able to live like this. So it’s two different things, but it’s not about specific people in Hollywood. It’s about certain ideals that people may hold onto that aren’t good.
Great! Thank you again for meeting with me.
MP: LA, we’re coming for you.
MF: We can’t wait.
Flagship, Terraplane Sun, and Little Daylight are hitting the Troubadour tonight! Be sure to pick up your tickets now.
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