We recently spoke with Torrance-based indie rock act The 131ers. The guys also played a show at the mint in Los Angeles California this past week, which is part of a few remaining dates they will be playing.
First, how are you guys, how was your summer, any highlights?
Kaleb: We got a new sink at our studio – kinda changed my life.
Chris: We also had our sophomore album come out – but yeah, the sink was
Ryan: I’m with Kaleb, sink was cool.
Your music is very emotional and uplifting, but also energetic and direct. How do you manage to combine these different aspects of your creativity?
Kaleb: I think all those things sorta go hand in hand – in life you can’t have one without the other, you can’t pick and choose. Music’s the same.
Ryan: All four of us work really hard to make sure that we can continue to play music because that’s what we love to do. I think a lot of our generation can relate to following their dreams while also cramming through a 9-5 work
week. It’s hard and it gets you down sometimes, but at the end of the day if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it will come across.
Your new single, “Ballerina” has a charming indie pop feel, and a massive sonic soundscape: what was the inspiration behind the song?
Kaleb: It’s really about a relationship that just wasn’t supposed to be. The song seems so huge I think because it was one of the first songs written for this new record. So we’ve been working on that arrangement for a long time.
Ryan: Its true, the hook for that song was created in December 2015, and it took us 3 years to get it right. We tried tons of different sounds for that song and what we arrived at was a sort of anthemic ballad. Very proud of it.
Chris: We probably could have stopped adding tracks after a year and a half, but no.
Your music is particularly well-known for its diverse blend of influences – is it hard to bring different ideas together, while still retaining the hallmarks of a good “pop” song?
Chris: We all have really diffrent musical backgrounds – and we argue a lot – but we can all agree on is that a song should focus on the listener, not the musician.
Ryan: Yeah, there’s a lot that goes into our songs sonically because of our different backgrounds that somehow we always arrive at a good blend of all of them.
What does it mean to be an indie artist in 2018? Does the definition still make any sense to you?
Kaleb: Of course it does.
Ryan: Drake is indie right?
Greg: If the definition made sense, no one would be indie.
You’ve been a band for quite a while now: how have your band’s dynamic changed through the years, if at all?
Kaleb: We just keep adding people. I really don’t know why – our producer has even started playing shows with us.
Ryan: We all play vital roles in keeping this machine going. At the beginning it was only Kaleb and I and we could fit everything into a Toyota Yaris, now we have a big van that eats up all our gas money— it’s a pretty comfy van though.
In addition to playing your own music, you took it upon yourself to organize a music event, the Avaline Music Festival. What made you want to try your hand at promoting an event of such a large scale?
Chris: When there’s an opportunity to fill a cow pasture with musicians and just do whatever you wanna do – how do you not do that? If it’s weird, and free, and fun and maybe even there’s fire- the 131ers will be there.
Ryan: We’re always looking to give back to our friends who have helped us out along the way so when we got the opportunity to book all our friends on a festival, we took it and ran.
If you had to pick one single song from your band to introduce your music to a new listener, which one would you choose, and why?
Kaleb: I think a great intro song for a new listener would be Leave This Man Behind. There’s something on that one that people seem to think is relatable – not sure why.
Any upcoming tours and plans?
Chris: Nov 14th at university of New Mexico! Nov 15th at a house show in Albuquerque (dm on instagram for that one) Nov 16 at the Espresso Art Lounge in Tucson. And Nov 17 at Fifty
One West in Phoenix.