‘After the Show’ by The Upsides | Premiere

Uncategorized December 14, 2022

‘After the Show’ by The Upsides | Premiere

Exclusive EP stream of ‘After The Show’ by The Upsides, a four-piece act making a unique brand of thoughtful indie rock in New York City. 

The group consists of brothers Matt Fullam (guitars and vocals) and his brother Dan (drums) with longtime friends Matt DaSilva (bass) and Hart Mechlin (guitar). Sonically, the group blends the energetic, guitar-driven work of the Strokes with early ‘70s Heartbreakers guitar tones. Drums and bass incorporate uptempo, danceable grooves that are reminiscent of the early aughts rock revival in the group’s home city, while Matt Fullam’s vocals center the music in both the live and studio settings. He effortlessly flips from a croon to a falsetto to match the band behind him, bringing life to downtempo grooves à la The Rolling Stones’ ‘Angie’ or electrifying the audience while the band provides overdriven, Queens-of-the-Stone Age-esque tenacity.

Track one, ‘After the Show’ is a driving force of a song, with spotless close harmonies and a tight-knit sound. The Upsides have spent years honing their musical voices as a unit, and it is very apparent.

‘After the Show’ has a casual, near-careless vibe to it . “Well darlin’, it works for me if it works for you.” The closing lyrics of the first track speak of everything still unfolding, leaving us with a taste of hopefulness and wondering what’s next. It fades out while still keeping energies high.

Next up, ‘Isolated Incidents’ changes up the rhythmic vibe with fuzzy, running eight-notes in the rhythm guitar, and a peppering of hand percussion. It has a warm-feeling which is contrasted lyrically. The lyrics touch on bleak themes such as that of aiding and abetting habits you know are wrong. Subtle sonic differences between the chorus and verses also help to make it clear to us that the character is suffering from some heavy internal conflict.

“Can we just get on with it
I find it’s worse to keep these things hidden
There’s nothing hard about being forgiven
No the tricky part is your new cost of living”

‘Isolated Incidents’ is the first single off of After the Show and feels stirring and moody, forward-moving yet stuck. It encompasses a poignant human experience.

“I read it
It says to set it and forget it
Well not exactly but I bet it turns out fine, you over complicate my life, I’m sorry that was out of line let’s maybe try this one more time”

You know that feeling where you have so much to say but no good place to put your mixed bag of feelings?

“All along these words never felt strong
so I threw em in a song where they oughta fit”

“Well for starters, the title contradicts itself…if there are multiple incidents, then they aren’t really isolated, right? And we liked that title for this song because the song also has some contradictions. For one, the hook is very simple on the surface, but the structure around it and what the guitars are doing is a bit more complex. For another, the chords and melodies are upbeat but the lyrics deal mainly with emotions like resignation and contrition. We liked sneaking that vulnerable subject matter into what is probably our hardest-rocking song to date. We had a lot of fun collaborating and experimenting with this one, and hope folks enjoy it both in their headphones and live. “

Hart Mechlin, Lead Guitar

The point of no return, ‘Spirits’ takes on a starkly different feeling, and leans on the backbeat. My favorite part is how the bass groove interacts with plain spoken vocals and clean guitar, giving us a Red Hot Chili Peppers sound, but with a lemon twist.

“But this church burned a long time ago and the rest just turned to rust”

The phasing effect just before the guitar solo transitions us to a new emotional feeling. ‘Spirits’ is catchy yet haunting, a mosaic of emotions.

Next up, ‘New York Dawn,’ is a romantic-yet- jammy-feeling song. “Ooh right next to you, wide awake and it’s way past 2”

The fifth and final tune on After the Show, ‘Ticker Tape Parade’ was the band’s second single off the album. According to frontman Matt Fullam, it showcases their strongest lyric-writing thus far.

“I think this song might have our strongest lyrics to date, or at least they continue to resonate with me after quite some time. They’re not overly deep, in fact they can probably be summarized via the post-chorus: “we all keep looking for a little bit more.” In society today, I think we are all subconsciously becoming a bit too hungry for “more,” whether it’s more money, cars, time, you name it. As a newer band trying to cut through, we are certainly guilty of this at times. I think by writing this tune we have learned to “live in the middle” a bit more and really appreciate and enjoy what we currently have, cause it ain’t gonna last forever. We wanted this message to be received a bit louder, hence the harder-hitting drums, mean bass-line, and distorted guitars relative to our second EP.

The lyrics in the chorus came from watching this construction crew across the street from our apartment play scratch-off lottery tickets every day during their lunch break. We envisioned throwing them a ‘Ticker Tape Parade’ if they were to hit it big. They are probably still playing the game somewhere in NYC, but there is that age-old saying “you gotta be in it to win it.”

Matt Fullam, Lead Vocals + Guitar

‘Ticker Tape Parade’ has satisfying rhythmic modulation throughout, with head-bop-worthy accents on the off-beats during the verses, and emphasis on downbeats during the choruses. The Upsides can turn anything into a bop – from internal conflict, to scratching off a lottery ticket!

Overall, ‘After the Show’ is an extremely cohesive album with an abundance of guitar tone colors and rhythmic influence that you’ll want to play on repeat day in and day out.

“We want our live set to sound like our recordings, and we embrace some imperfection”

How did you get that warbling effect on everything in the intro to ‘Ticker Tape Parade’?

Matt Fullam (Lead Singer + Rhythm Guitar): We ran the vocals through a Leslie, which is an old-school spin speaker from the 1940’s. It looks like a large piece of wooden furniture, but inside it there is a speaker that actually spins, creating that effect. It’s a unique sound that we’ve been trying to work into our songs when it fits. The Wurlitzer keyboard naturally has that “wobble” which we also love about the intro.

Who created the album art, and what was the piece inspired by?

All of the single, EP, and concert poster art from this year has been done by Evan Miller who is based up in Vancouver. Dan found him on Instagram (@getbornco) one day and reached out asking if he would want to collaborate – it’s been such an awesome experience working with him, he’s such a patient person and just a really great guy to make stuff with. He is also apparently a killer guitar player, so we need to catch him live some day. For this EP, we were struggling a little bit to come up with a general idea so we combed back through some of his older pieces and that one stuck out. The curtain slightly drawn over the stairs just seemed to say ‘after the show’ – and we worked with him from there to finalize the colors and what not. You’d have to ask Evan what inspired him to draw it!

How did you (as a band) end up cultivating such a versatile sound?

All of us listen to a wide range of music in terms of genre, and we get inspired by many different artists as we are writing. While we don’t always agree on every single idea presented, there is enough common ground to develop a sound that we feel is authentic. In terms of production, we obviously record our music with a computer, but we really don’t use a lot of modern electronic equipment. We want our live set to sound like our recordings, and we embrace some imperfection. However, we refuse to be the band “caught up in the 1970s”, so we are always looking for subtle tactics to create a modern, relevant sound.

‘After the Show’ feels very seamless from song to song. What do you think of musical transitions? Moreover, is this a concept album?

Appreciate that! It’s funny you say that because a lot of these songs were recorded at the same time as the first two EP’s, and we weren’t sure if they would turn into an album. When we decided to release the three EP’s, we started grouping the songs together based on overall vibe as well as the lyrical cohesion. So no, this is not a concept album and the transitions were more just trial and error. The reason we decided to go with three EP’s is due to the way music is consumed now. It feels like one month after you release a song, it’s already getting stale. As a new band, we wanted to keep the “new” songs going all year and play as many live shows around the release dates. However, we are currently working on a full-length album for 2023 which we are very excited about!

Three of you began playing music together as children. Do you have any funny stories of inside jokes from this time period? What were you all up to?

Our original lead guitarist was also named Matt, so we had to kick him out for that reason (just kidding, he moved to LA). His parents had this huge basement that we used to practice in, and they let us make a lot of noise whenever we wanted to, all hours of the night. Matt’s dad was into some heavy 80’s stuff like Kiss, and he let us practice with his full-stack Marshall amps, which in retrospect is extremely loud for everyday use! The best story is when his dad lent an old guitar to his friend who they called “The Guitar Doctor”. Apparently, this guy would put a match strip on the back of his guitar and light the thing on fire at the end of his gig! We showed up at Matt’s house one day and “The Guitar Doctor” was putting this guitar back together after lighting it on fire at a gig the night before! We’ve seen some wild stuff living in NYC, but I don’t think we will ever forget that story. We might have to start doing that at our gigs one day.

Photo by Alex Brown

Compositionally, how did you approach this EP in comparison to ‘Patterns’?

We wanted this EP to be more unique, and we definitely wanted these songs to be driven by the Bass Guitar and Drums. We also introduced more distortion on the vocals and guitars relative to the songs we previously released. The lyrics are also a bit more personal on this EP. I think all of that left us with five songs that are perhaps less pop-sounding than our first EP, but they feel authentic and they certainly get people moving when we play them live.

Headline photo: Alex Brown

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