Los Angeles based indie ensemble, Family of the Year have just released their latest EP titled, St. Croix. In preparation of their album release show at Bootleg Theater, we sat down for an in-depth chat with singer Joe Keefe. The environment was casual, fun, and relaxed at our favorite Silver Lake watering hole. Here’s what the sweetheart had to say about the EP, a new music video, and life in the family.
GG: Tell me about the new EP.
JK: It’s called St. Croix and it’s named after the single. The single, is the one song that kind of leads the whole thing off. There’s also one older song on it, and the rest are songs that will be on the next full length record.
GG: Where did the name come from?
JK: (laughs) We wrote a song about Jamesy’s (James Buckey, Guitar) trip to St. Croix. He spent time there growing up. His dad was in the military. So he took a trip back there while we were writing the album. So we had this guitar part and we thought… um this would be funny if we just start singing about what we think Jamesy is doing right now. Seb came up with a lot of the lyrics for it. (Sebastian Keefe, Drums)
GG: Don’t you have another song called Jamesy?
JK: Yes. (laughing) I think every record has to have a song about Jamesy on it. He’s just easy to write about. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, and he’s always up to something.
GG: Where did you guys record the songs?
JK: We recorded it at a studio in Hollywood called Wax Limited. It’s a producer friend of ours. We did it all at once, the EP and the full-length. We were under the assumption that we were going to just do it all ourselves. Record it ourselves, put it out by ourselves. Then I was at a birthday party and ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, Wally ( producer). He asked what I was up to. I told him that I was playing music, and he got really excited and wanted to work with us. So he brought us into the studio, and we did a lot of pre-production. Then we recorded on the weekends for five months. It was kind of a long process. We spent a lot of time trying to do it right, professionally.
GG: Plans for a music video?
JK: Yeah we just finished shooting the “St. Croix” video. It was our first video with a real budget. It was so much fun. We shot on the beach and it’s completely 60s style… like Beach Boys. Sooo funny. It reminds me a little of Weezer’s Buddy Holly video. They did my hair super embarrassingly, like Brian Wilson-ey. We are all wearing matching striped outfits. It was kind of hard for us to be honest, because there was a huge crew and lights and shit. And they were like, Do your thing. And we thought, (nervously) What’s are thing? Aaah, we don’t know what to do, dancing like 60s people. (laughs) It’s really goofy. Probably the most goofy video. We actually just saw it, and it’s probably the goofiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
GG: How did the song “Living on Love” come about? Did you write the lyrics?
JK: That’s actually interesting. I wrote that song on the acoustic really quietly, and it was a really freakin’ depressing song. It was just like (sings this to the chorus of “Living on Love”) Fuck my life, Fuck my life…something, something. And Seb had come up with the lyrics “living on love and libations” and started singing it one day. I thought that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life, but if you put that over this really sad song I wrote it works. And it did, it just clicked instantly and we recorded it that day.
GG: Tell me about the song “6 AM?”
JK: That is… a true story song. (laughs) It’s about a late night I had after being ditched at a party. The people I was with said they were leaving and I said I’ll be right there and before you knew it I found myself with complete strangers… or it was two strangers… or… one stranger. We’re getting kicked out of this house and it’s pouring. I thought I was around the corner from my apartment so we start walking, and the whole night turned into a six hour adventure trying to get home. None of us knew where we were. Yeah, it’s a song about a night.
GG: The band lives here in Silver Lake and Echo Park, does living in a predominantly artist community influence the band?
JK: Yes, it definitely does. To be around people that are all doing stuff inspires you to get out there and get stuff done. It influences us as well because we’re happy here, and we like it. Makes our music happier.
GG: There’s a remix on the album of the song “St. Croix?”
JK: Yes, we think it’s awesome to have remixes. Our label tinyOGRE, they’re new out of New York and they’re awesome, suggested that we put a remix on the EP. We’ve been friends with Hooray for Earth for years and their new record is so fucking good. We’re so blown away by it. So we reached out to Noel, really close friend of ours. He was really busy, but he did it and we love it. It was really nice of him to do it.
GG: How long have you as an individual been making music?
JK: I’ve been playing in bands since I was in 8th grade. Nirvana covers at the 8th grade dance, and played in a band in High School. And when I was younger started with piano lessons, and orchestra, and band. I’ve been doing it for a really long time. My whole life essentially.
GG: Alex Walker is the new bass player. How did that come about?
JK: We met Alex through our friends in Grouplove. He’s actually a really talented guitar player, that’s what he does. We liked him, thought he was cool. He showed up to the first practice and knew all the freakin’ songs already. We played the whole set and didn’t need to show him anything. We had been waiting for someone with that kind of drive.
GG: Tell me something non-music related about you.
JK: My name is Joseph and I really enjoy a nice pick-up truck. I grew up playing soccer and wanted to be a professional soccer player. I really enjoy history, would love to go back to school and study that.
Family of the Year plays their EP release show tonight, Thursday—October 13, 2011 at the Bootleg Theater. The band will also open the Goldenvoice and 98.7 FM present Grouplove at The El Rey on October 26, 2011. A show not to be missed. You can buy the EP here for less than $4 or download the single for free.
Interview: Roxanne Hilburn
Photography: Dominoe Farris-Gilbert