In a sea of rock bands that are constantly pushing the line closer to pop, The Material prove that they’re here to stay in the alternative game. Being an independent band hasn’t stopped these San Diego locals from performing with the likes of Jimmy Eat World and My American Heart, and as I can tell from the interview we had at their CD release show earlier this month, it’s obvious that there’s even more rocking moments in store for them. They discussed everything about their new album, the interesting process of going into the studio and almost rewriting all of their songs, and what we can expect from them later on this year.
The entire band sat down with me at Soda Bar in San Diego and after comfortably taking up a whole booth, it was easy to see that this group of musicians has little to no problems working together. Colleen D’Agostino, the searing female vocals behind the Material’s music, had just the same edge as her male band mates, holding her own next to the guys as they discussed some of their experiences in the studio.
Guitarist John started off first, being very open and bright-eyed when he discussed some of the song writing and production processes of their latest album, Everything I Want to Say.
“Our previous producer, [Brian Grider], was San Diego based, … and we did our first few records with him.” John was referring to the Material’s freshman and sophomore releases, Tomorrow and full-length What We Are, respectively. “He’s super meticulous, super talented, and it was very production heavy, … adding strings, adding synths, adding electric drums.” But anyone who compares the album What We Are with the latest release can probably pick up on a braver approach to their rock sound. John continues to say, “This record [Everything I Want to Say] we did with our friend Kyle Black, … and he came in to do pre-production with us which was the first time we’d ever done that. We had all these songs we thought were done and he came in and started switching everything up.”
It was a process that attempted to throw the five musicians for a loop, but paid off in the end with what could easily be described as a well-rounded, energetic, and rock-heavy album that offers versatility in each song. The Material succeeded in avoiding the dreaded “rock riff” curse of creating a handful of songs that all sound like one another — instead, they were able to do re-writes that gave each song a unique and palatable sound to the ear.
Lead singer Colleen explains that it wasn’t necessarily an easy task. “We just spent six months perfecting this song, we’re not changing it. But ultimately we realized [producer Kyle Black] wants the song to be just as good as we do. Thinking back we’re definitely really happy we listened to him.”
The group was in good hands, since Kyle Black has previously worked with Paramore, All Time Low, and Neon Trees, with most of those groups coming back for more. I asked the band if they planned to continue on the Road to Rock, or veer into the pop sound that many artists have defaulted to in this age, and John notes once again that their powerful rock sound is here to stay.
“With Dave Grohl putting out the Sound City documentary, it’s super inspiring to be like, ‘let’s just go and sound like five people playing in a room together.'” John says, after the group saw the lead singer of the Foo Fighters speak at his conference at South by Southwest.
Colleen adds that even though she came from a pop background, it’s inspiring to have a concrete sound and direction for the group. “Every album that we’ve done until now has been kind of straddling the rock and the pop thing.” She adds that her electronic side project, With Beating Hearts, gives her the opportunity to taste the best of both musical worlds. “I’m kind of channeling the pop/electronic stuff in that direction so I can allow myself to just focus on rock in [the Material].”
The Material is more focused than ever, and they rounded up a rambunctious group of fans and followers at their Soda Bar CD release show earlier this month. The crowd eagerly head-banged along with Colleen and the band as they played songs from their new album. The energetic force of a band this size is just a heavy reminder not to underestimate the power of the indie band. As Colleen told me that night, “We’re all on board to do something big and different and amazing.” And amazing it shall be!
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