Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Feb 08th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Finding Happiness Through Heartbreak

evnet TFBNew Jersey punks tackle life's troubles with self-awareness and wit

Acoustic guitars aren't generally associated with the kind of propulsive, punk rock music played by New Jersey quartet The Front Bottoms. But in the DIY spirit of every true punk band, they make it work.

In fact, according to Brian Sella, the band's guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter, playing acoustic, rather than electric, was all about making due with what he had.

"I never got an amp," Sella says. He couldn't afford one in 2006 when he started jamming with drummer Mathew Uychich. Plus, it wasn’t practical to play electric guitar in his small house.

At the band’s first show, Sella was delighted to learn that he could amplify his acoustic guitar through the venue's PA. "It just kind of worked out," he says. It may have thrown people off, but he believes it "added something to the sound."

Now that The Front Bottoms are signed to Bar/None Records and touring the country, Sella says he could choose to pick up an electric guitar, but he doesn't really want to. These days, playing acoustic is more of an "artistic decision," he says.

And it's the right decision. Sella's acoustic guitar adds a thickness and raw immediacy to their sound—similar to what you might hear from other acoustic punk acts, like Jonathan Richman, The Violent Femmes or The Mountain Goats.

On "Au Revoir," the opening track off 2013's The Talon of the Hawk, Sella's single note guitar line carries an acoustic punch that works double time—filling much of the same sonic space that an electric guitar and bass would working together. As his guitar's strings rattle and ring, Sella sarcastically chides his muse: "Au revoir, au revoir/I bet you don't even know what that means."

It would seem, Sella is directing this invective at a girl named Chelsea, who he again addresses on the eighth track, "Funny You Should Ask."

"Come on, Chelsea, speak a little French to me," he intones. "Heard you spent two whole semesters drinking wine/while I was stuck in Jersey trying to save some money/I guess I'm just another thing you left behind."

This is par for the course for Sella. The singer says he taps into deeply personal experiences from his life and others. But instead of weaving those stories into total downer tracks, he employs a kind of manic, self-deprecating wit to spin tales of doubt and heartbreak that are just as likely to make you laugh as they are to make you cry.

It's a formula that resonates with fans. Sella says he is accustomed to people approaching him after shows to tell him how his lyrics helped them in some way. At first it was a bit overwhelming to have strangers explain how they understood his life, he says. But he came to realize that although he may be writing about specific events in his life, that his troubles probably aren't that different from what his fans are going through.

"People are listening to the music and really relating to it, which is the whole point. Everybody has gone to a party, everybody has felt like shit, everybody has fallen in love and fallen out of love," Sella says of fans connecting with his lyrics. "I think it's great. It makes me happy." 


The Front Bottoms play at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12. For info, call 429-6994.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits