The story is simple: In 2008, five people head to an artist’s commune on the Greek isle of Crete for various reasons. They meet, strike up a friendship and eventually decide (in 2010) to make music together. In a few short years, they produced an EP, an LP and a hit single (“Tongue Tied”). They played prestigious festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella, and already graduated into headlining slots, like the one they’ll helm at Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay on Wednesday night.
I recently spoke with vocalist/guitarist Christian Zucconi about the band’s not-quite-overnight “overnight success” as he and the rest of the band made their way to Seattle for a show.
Scott McDonald: How are you?
Christian Zucconi: Things are good, but we did have to cancel our first day of tour because our drummer lost his grandmother and had to fly to South Africa. But we are all living at his parents’ house now -- we’re all homeless because we tour so much -- and it was actually nice that we were there when he got the call. We’re all very close with his family, and we got to spend some time with him, and them, that day. We were all up until 4 in the morning, just hanging out and telling stories.
SM: Having friends and family around is always cathartic.
CZ: It was. And I like the word cathartic. That’s a great word.
SM: It’s been a pretty good year for you guys.
CZ: Yeah, it’s been good. It’s also been surreal, crazy and totally great. I always go back to that summer when [keyboardist] Hannah [Hooper] invited me to Greece. I was in another band at the time, and I remember thinking, "Should I go out there? Should I make this decision?" And thank God that I did. You know? We met everyone out there. It’s crazy how one decision like that can change your whole life and turn it completely upside down. I think it was like that for all of us. And that’s what makes this so special. It was just so random and we were able to take our friendship and turn it into something bigger than ourselves. It’s been so cool. And it’s really cool that other people dig what we’re doing. We’re very humbled and grateful for the whole thing. We have to pinch ourselves all the time to even know it’s real.
SM: I think people respond when they know a band is really enjoying it.
CZ: It’s true. And it’s hard for us to step away from it to see what’s happening. But we couldn’t do what we do if it wasn’t real, genuine and honest. As we strive forward, that’s our No. 1 criteria. It has to be real, honest and come from the heart. We want it in our performances, and we want it as people. And when an audience returns that passion, it’s a great feeling, for sure.
SM: What’s the next step in the process?
CZ: We’re all open-minded people, and we welcome change. But as we move forward, I think we’re going to try and keep doing it the same exact way that we’ve been doing it. We’ve evolved so much as a band and a family -- from playing so much over the last few years -- that I think that we’ll always be writing and collaborating. The only thing that we’ll need to figure out is when to find the time to sit down and flesh out the new songs that we’ve been working on. But it will still need to be done organically, and we’ll want to keep it self-contained. That’s how it’s worked through the EP and the album, and it worked so well like that -- and we had the best experience doing it -- we don’t want to mess with that. But, like I said, we’re open-minded and people like [Beck/Radiohead producer] Nigel Godrich have been knocking on our door. So who’s to say?
SM: Speaking of producing, I know [drummer] Ryan [Rabin] has served as producer thus far. But when people like Nigel Godrich are calling …
CZ: Well, it’s fun to work with new people and learn new things as well. But we’ve always just assumed that Ryan would produce the next one. But who knows? Maybe Ryan wants to work with someone else. No matter what happens, we want to make sure that we stay open to ideas.
SM: Tour goes through the end of the year?
CZ: Pretty much, and then we’ll take January, February and most of March off to record the next album. And we plan to keep our fans very involved in the whole process of making the record. We’ll post videos and pictures and do some stuff on the web site as well, so they can feel like they’re a part of the process. We want to accept the challenge of keeping fans engaged in new ways and really want to let people in on what’s happening behind the doors. We’re excited about that and excited for the next record and year.