Philadelphia has turned into an extremely wonderful, flourishing scene for up-and-coming musicians, as well as established ones. A label like Lame-O Records has become a widely recognizable name across the scene, and has become a home to many bands, including Hurry. What started as the side project for Everyone Everywhere’s Matt Scottoline essentially ended up becoming a full-time gig.
Chatting with him was a delight, and he had many insightful things to talk about, including the band’s inception, the current “dad hat” trend, what it’s like being a band from Philadelphia, as well as the latest EP, Casual Feelings.
Modern Vinyl: As a brief introduction for our readers, what’s the history behind Hurry?
Matt Scottoline: Hurry basically started as sort of a side/songwriting project for me when I was still playing in my old band, called Everyone Everywhere. I’ve always had an inclination to write songs, but in that band, it was more of a collaborative thing, and the songs were a lot different. I started recording songs on my computer in my bedroom, and eventually I had so many that I figured I should put these online, and have them there for fun. I made a Bandcamp, and was trying to figure out what to call it.
As an intro to myself, I write songs fast. I tend to almost rush through it. If I have an idea, I have to chase it down and see it to completion, or else I give up on it. I tend to always write songs in one sitting. I basically called the Bandcamp Hurry, because I thought it was funny, and not thinking that it would ever become a band. I had it there, and shared it on my Facebook page with my friends [to say] here’s what I’m doing!
As Everyone Everywhere started becoming less active, I decided that I could probably record something, and get some friends together to play the songs live.
MV: Let’s talk about Casual Feelings.
MS: Cool, let’s do it.
MV: Casual feelings in general, because everybody’s got casual feelings for everything! That was a bad joke, I’m sorry.
MS: That’s true though! I think that’s sort of…the title is sort of tongue-in-cheek anyway. A big thing for me is has always been earnesty in music, and not trying to make things overly dramatic. I just like the idea of calling something Casual Feelings, because there’s an element of detachment to that. We’re allowed to joke about it.
MV: Okay, now I don’t feel as bad for that. What was your creative process like going into it?
MS: Honestly? The songs from Casual Feelings came from the same writing sessions as Guided Meditation. They were basically songs that I wanted to have on that record, that due to the constraints of vinyl as a format, I couldn’t include. Just because I couldn’t put that much on there. I had these songs for a while that didn’t make the cut, and I really wanted to get them out there somehow. Lame-O knew I had them, and they asked if I wanted to put out an EP of them, so we did. That’s why one of the songs on the EP is called “Guided Meditation.” Originally when I wrote it, I thought it was going to be on the album. I couldn’t fit it on there.
MV: More or less, Casual Feelings is basically the B-sides from Guided Meditation?
MS: Yeah, basically. I feel like there’s a negative connotation with the term “B-sides” because in my heart of hearts, they were going to be on it. I guess they had to be on it. I don’t know, you’re right.
MV: You did release Guided Meditation earlier this year, but are there any plans to release a new LP in the coming months and/or 2017?
MS: I’m hopeful to have something in 2017. I already have another album’s worth of songs written, so I’m planning to record in the winter. We’ll see what happens from there.
MV: What do you want fans and new listeners to take away from the EP?
MS: I don’t know. I guess I just always hope that any time I write any music, my main hope is just that people find something in it to attach to, whether it’s the vibe, the melody, lyrics; just something that strikes them, or is memorable to them. There’s no grand message to it, as a whole. I think trying to reach people through pop music is my main goal. I don’t know. I hope they don’t think it sucks. I don’t know. I try not to think about that too much, because I feel like it’s easy to go insane if I worry about the reception of something like that too much. I always just put stuff out there, cross my fingers, and hope people don’t hate it. If people don’t hate it, I’m feeling pretty good.
MV: Last month, you had the chance to play with Nada Surf, which is very awesome.
MV: How did that come about?
MS: Actually, that came about sort of because of WXPN. Bruce Warren, the head over there at XPN, as far as music goes. He’s a big supporter of our band, and he plays us on XPN. Nada Surf’s manager at some point over the last year, I don’t know when, reached out to him. He basically got them in touch with us. Long story short, because XPN is so awesome and supported us, it led to that random relationship. It’s one of those classic music industry things that you can never fully explain, but you always hope will happen. I owe that almost completely to WXPN and them believing in what we were doing, and being so cool.
I did write a very gushing email to Bruce Warren after it happened. Just to thank him for everything. He’s well aware that I think it’s all his fault too.
MV: I’ve heard nothing but good things about Bruce, and that’s awesome.
MS: He’s awesome. He’s very tuned in to everything that’s going on, and he’s not discriminating. He’ll check anything out. He’s fair, and I feel like he gives honest opinions about things. He could so easily tune out, in the position he’s in, and the way XPN runs now, and how big it is; he could take what’s given to the station and play the stuff that the radio promotion companies are trying to play, and check out more or less. He chooses not to do that, and I think that choice speaks to the character of the operation. It’s pretty cool.
MV: To go off of that, I feel like that’s a wonderful opportunity to begin with, but what was it like being able to open for them?
MS: It was cool. We’ve been fortunate enough to play with a good handful of bands that are much more popular than we are. A lot of times when things like that come up, it’s not always in the same genre, or always necessarily a “perfect” fit. So sometimes you get in front of these big crowds, but you’re not really speaking their language, musically. But with them, we’re so in the same wheelhouse. Their audience is generally a bit older, and they’re into more pop music. But anyway, it was good. I felt like the people there were really receptive, and we won some people over. The people in Nada Surf, like Matthew Caws, are really nice, open and friendly. They approached us during our soundcheck, and he was messing around with my guitar amp, not in like a bad way, but a helpful way. It was cool. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience playing with them, and hopefully we’ll be doing it again at some point.
MV: Were you selling the “I saw Hurry open for a band I like” shirts at that show?
MS: I was! I was, yeah. I made a new run. I hadn’t printed those in a long time. But again, going back to that idea of being earnest and not pulling any punches or trying to act like we’re more than we are, and trying to maintain a self-awareness. When we do end up in those situations, I do like to have those shirts, because it immediately clues people into what our vibe is, and the sense of humor we try to carry about ourselves and the music industry in general.
MV: I think I saw that you guys will be taking that out for The Starting Line show?
MS: Yeah! I think that’ll be another good opportunity to do that. It also tends to work better at a show like that, with The Starting Line. We’re not the same genre as them at all. There’s gonna be a lot of people there who are old fans of The Starting Line and they want to come and see all their favorite songs get played. The reality of it is that 99% of the people going to that show don’t care that we’re going to be there. Being able to have…for lack of a better term, a gimmick, to help draw people into our world a little bit, and make them feel some sort of affection for us, I think is the beauty of being self-deprecating and making a gesture like that with a goofy T-shirt.
MV: That’s always really fun to see, especially when bands go out with great senses of humor.
MS: Yeah. My philosophy is [that] we’re all just idiots. When you go to a show, and there’s people playing in a band on stage, it doesn’t matter who they are. They’re just idiots too. We’re all the same. I don’t want anyone in an audience to feel like we’re more important than they are. I think it’s healthy to be self-deprecating in that situation, and to make sure we’re all on the same level.
MV: With that, how do you prepare to actually hit the road to go out and do shows?
MS: In what way? Do my laundry? That’s a pertinent question, since we’re leaving tomorrow morning for some shows, so I’m running through that in my mind right now. [*Editor’s note: the day after this interview, the band played a gig in Chicago.]
I don’t know. I’m sort of an anxious guy, and I get anxiety before I leave for any sort of trip. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to the beach for a vacation. In the hours leading up to it, I’ll be thinking, “Oh my god. We should cancel. I shouldn’t do this.” Part of the way I get ready to just survive until I hit the road, because I start to lose it a little, there’s really no real trick to it. In all honesty, unless we’re playing a bunch of new music, we don’t even rehearse that much before we go. When you play night after night, you sort of get into a groove anyway. A lot of it is just doing my laundry and trying to feel good about it, and hopeful before I go. It’s so easy, not only with touring, but music in general, it’s so easy to get discouraged or wonder if the thing you’re doing is worth it. It’s easy to be pessimistic. I try to go into it as positive as I can, and stay excited. And hope for the best. It’s fun too. I’m painting a grim picture, because I’m in the middle of one of my anxious periods, but once you get out there, and start driving around, it’s always fun.
MV: Speaking of shows, you’ve got your EP release show coming up at PhilaMOCA, and it’ll be your Halloween show. Do you have any costume ideas in mind for that show?
MS: We will be wearing a costume, but I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it’ll be. I have a few ideas that we talked about, but I haven’t totally decided yet. I’m hoping it’ll turn out okay. I want the whole show to be a big Halloween party where people can come and dress up. Try to make it as fun as we can.
MV: You should just try and play the “Monster Mash” over and over again as a band.
MS: If I could pull that off, I would! We could probably play some really screwed up version of it. Maybe I’ll just improvise it.
MV: Speaking of Philly, how has it fostered your growth and evolution as a whole?
MS: I just think it is a really flourishing scene, and there’s so many people doing so many great things, whether it’s other musicians who are making great music, or these people running DIY venues and promotion operations, and even the bigger promoters like R5. Our very first show was an R5 Productions show. There’s a big community in Philly from all angles, and I feel like it’s a place where anyone can make music and exist, and find an outlet that isn’t really closed off. It can certainly be kind of cliquey at times, but I think that’s true of any music scene, but I think in large, if you’re in the city and making music, there’s a space for you to play. There’s people interested that want to help out and help grow the scene. It’s been crazy over the past few years. More and more people have been moving to Philly to make music from other cities. I think all of that excitement just helps keep it going. On top of that, you have things like XPN, which I’ve talked about a million times already, but they’re a powerful force. They stay open to helping young bands, and bands that would never, ever get on the radio otherwise, and putting them out there and talking about them, and saying how great they are. It’s really cool. I feel fortunate that we’re here. The other benefit I have of being in the city for over a decade and playing music that whole time, is that I’ve just met so many people who are always supportive and want to help out with everything.
It’s been a really slow growth [for Hurry]. We started in 2012 which is when I did the first EP that we ever released. I played every instrument myself, and had friends fill-in at shows and learn the songs in a couple hours before we played. We spent a good year or two playing really small shows to nobody. There’s also an element of natural growth with us that’s happened. The point is, that it’s possible to do that here. You also have Lame-O, who’s more becoming a Philly institution. Eric and Emily are super supportive of everybody, and again, help give people chances that wouldn’t find them otherwise. There’s just a lot of good people here!
MV: I have noticed the ever-growing trend of “dad hats.”
MS: Yeah! What’s up with that?
MV: Is that a trend you don’t want to see die?
MS: I’d like to think that I helped start it. We can check the tapes, but I don’t think there were any…or at least many bands of my size doing embroidered hats. Now it’s very common. I feel like I’m responsible for it. It’s really just because I would wear hats like that and I thought it’d be cool to have a hat like that with my band on it. It wasn’t that calculated, but now it is a big trend. I probably won’t stop. I’ll keep doing it after the trend dies, just because I still like them. I’m trying to think of the next absurd merch thing that I can make that will become a big trend.
MV: I know that The World Is A Beautiful Place…they started the whole utensil thing.
MS: What’s that? Like forks?
MV: Yeah! They were selling forks a few years ago, and I believe they sold knives too. Just plastic forks and knives.
MS: Woah. I didn’t know about that!
MV: But back to the hats. Do you have anything planned for the next one?
MS: The newest ones came out pretty recently. I’m happy with them right now. It’s very simple. I like the way it looks. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll do a different colored hat one day that isn’t khaki. Here’s the other thing! A lot of these new hats coming out are too cool-looking! They’re changing the aesthetic a lot because they’re making them look really cool with different colors and denim, I don’t know. It loses a little bit of the charm when it looks too nice.
MV: Maybe you should just get into the fanny pack business.
MS: Well, the problem with that is that I’m afraid it would come across as too much of an ironic thing. When I started doing the hats, there’s no irony attached to it. I thought it was a little bit funny, but I truly have been wearing a khaki hat with an embroidered logo on it that I took from my dad for years. I was really playing off my own sense of style. I only want to make merch that I would wear. That’s sort of what I always think about, whether it’s a T-shirt or something. “Would I wear this?” If the answer’s no, I won’t do it.
MV: That makes sense. And lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add?
MS: I don’t know. When is this interview going to be published? Will it be published after the election?
MV: Oh no. I’m hoping to get this up in time for your EP release.
MS: Okay. I could’ve pretended to guess the results of the election.
MV: I mean, if you’d like to guess, please go ahead!
MS: Well we’ve killed the illusion. I was going to pretend we were living in a very specific world. But uh, I don’t know. What else could we talk about? What’s good?
“Casual Feelings” is available today via Lame-O. You can pick up the Casual Feelings 7″ on Lame-O’s webstore, which is limited to a run of 500 black records. If you’re in the Philadelphia-area, be sure to check out their Halloween Spectacular and EP release show on the 28th at PhilaMOCA. They’ll be joined by Eric Slick, Cherry and Cave People.