On what Influences their sound:
Carter Schultz: That fresh 2000s hip hop with the ’90s hip hop, but it comes from all over the place
On the albums that made the biggest impacts on them:
CS: I’d probably say A Kid Named Cudi by Kid Cudi. Thats not early 2000s or ‘90s, and it’s a mixtape, but come on. Cut me some slack.
David von Mering: Probably Californication by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Plus there’s the new Arctic Monkeys album, which completely changed my life.
CS: We’ve played that probably 700-1000 times collectively.
On who they were excited to see at Outside Lands:
DM: Grouplove. I just met the girl—I didn’t even get her name, I was so starstruck. She was wearing a onesie that was all $100 bills. So she’s my wife.
On his transition from spoken word to rap:
W: I was doing rap before I started doing spoken word, but I got established in spoken word professionally first. It was tough. I was on this old TV show called “Def Poetry Jam” in 2007 and for 4 or 5 years I played college campuses doing poetry acts. It took me like 4 years of really chipping away slowly to be able to transition from those college spoken word gigs to playing with a band at ticketed venues. And it just happened through really forcing it on people. This is what I’m doing, you can either take it or leave it.
On his career goals:
W: My goal is not to be mainstream, it’s to make the audience come to me rather than come to the audience…I don’t think you need the radio to get big anymore. Mac Miller was never on the radio, Skrillex wasn’t on the radio and they have huge followings.
On his new album:
I have an album coming out Tuesday called All You Can Do. I’m really proud of it; it’s a step forward artistically … With this album, what I wanted to do was show people that our generation isn’t totally apathetic, that we do care about things, that we’re not completely materialistic even though our attention spans may be getting shorter because of the technology we use. We still care and we’re still invested in the world that we live in.
On starting their music career in Alameda:
Alex DiDonato: The Bay Area music scene is why we always played in San Francisco. There was a wealth of great bands and we always aspired to get to their level when we were in high school. That’s what kept us working, through high school.
On learning from other bands:
AD: We got to see Young the Giant rise from just a little local band. They weren’t from the Bay Area, but they were from Irvine and they were friends with friends of ours from the Bay Area, so they used to play here a lot back when they used to be The Jakes. So it was cool to see their rise. That inspired us that it was possible.
Brendan Hoye: We left college to do this and I don’t think it would have been as easy of a decision if we hadn’t seen Young the Giant do it.
On his new album, Caustic Love:
Paolo Nutini: Maybe the difference between this one and the other ones is that, lyrically, its a little less direct and literal. There are parts of it that are a bit more ominous and open to interpretation. And that’s what I love. I love the difference between reading a book and watching a movie. Reading a book, you can create the character’s image and your imagination has more time to run free.
On his retro sound:
PN: To be honest, I don’t really think about it it, like “Oh, I want to write a song like this guy, or this guy.” Sometimes when you put some clothes on and go out, you go “Ok, I want to go for that kind of vibe.” But when you write a reggae song, you can never go, “I’m gonna try to make a Bob Marley tune.” Bob Marley was Bob Marley ‘cause that’s who he was. You can only really be who you are. That comes with a narrative and how you sing it and phrase it, everything you can try to make unique … And the production adds another color to the atmosphere that maybe people are reminiscing over.
On their favorite songwriting topics:
Anaiah Lei: Storytelling. Fables.
Mikaiah Lei: No! Its usually about being very lonely, or losing friends …You write about everything. You write about what’s in the world, things you fear, things you like. Why try to hide that and not put it into lyrical form?
On others’ perception of them:
ML: People always mention age. I’m 21 and Anaiah is 17. Sometimes we’ll get racial comments, like “So, you two are two black kids playing rock n roll?” We’re half Asian as well. People always think that what we’re playing, garage rock, is more for 30-year-old white dudes with beards.
AL: It doesn’t matter what we’re playing. We’re playing for everyone.
ML: People will assume we’re rappers when they see us, which is a racist assumption. Just ‘cause we’re two brown kids and I wear a baseball hat doesn’t mean I’m a rapper.