MEB staffer Heather Allen recently had the chance to pose some questions to Bryan Sammis, drummer for the fast-rising alternative rockers The Neighbourhood. They discussed the reasons behind making black & white music videos, breaking into the Billboard’s Top 50, playing Nintendo 64 with Imagine Dragons and more.
MEB: How did all of you decide you wanted to form a band together?
Bryan Sammis: Common ground. We had all been in bands in the same area. We decided to try and make music with our best buds, lucky for us that is the formula that has brought us this far.
You formed the band in 2011 and you’ve gained a lot of buzz for such a short amount of time. Does it sometimes feel unreal that your musical career has shot up extremely fast?
We always wanted this. It definitely is humbling and a crazy feeling.
You are a band from California. Why did you choose to spell your band name by its British spelling?
The American spelling was taken. We’re all very happy it was though because we feel as though this fits us much better.
Your song “Female Robbery” helped get you discovered online but you guys kept yourself hidden for awhile before signing with Columbia Records. Do you think choosing to be a little mysterious worked out in your favor?
We just wanted people to pay attention to the music. It definitely helped us.
You have quite the unique instrumentation style, in which you successfully create hip-hop-sounding beats with guitars and drums. Is there a specific reason why you chose to somewhat combine the two genres other than to make yourselves different from all the other indie alternative bands out there?
We all love hip-hop so it pours out of us when we create. It’s natural for us.
Congrats on “Sweater Weather” continuing to reign on Billboard’s Alternative chart. Did you have any idea that this song would make such a splash on the charts?
We always wanted our music to be heard around the world. “Sweater Weather” just went gold and that is a great feeling. We’re proud.
Your music has dark, moody characteristics and lyrics that make your listeners feel the emotion oozing from them. Do you think this particular style is what makes you desirable as a band?
I just think that we’re a breath of fresh air. We set out to make music that wasn’t necessarily available already.
When it comes to your music videos you choose to film them in black & white. Your late night debut on Jimmy Kimmel was also changed to black & white for the viewers at home. Why black & white?
Conan too! Black & white is our aesthetic. We provide content, whether that content be audio, visual, et cetera.
I Love You. debuted at number 39 (in the top 50) on Billboard. Where did you think your debut album was going to rank?
Tough to say [where it would rank] as I don’t really pay attention to the Billboard Top 50 out of pure ignorance to it. I thought it would do well as I like it and am proud of it.
You recently recorded acoustic versions of “Sweater Weather” and “Afraid” for Spotify Sessions. Why did you choose “Afraid” to accompany “Sweater Weather” instead of any of the other songs on the album?
“Afraid” is the best possible representation of who we are as a band on I Love You.
You released a vinyl called The Love Collection and it contains three previously unreleased tracks. Would you consider re-releasing a deluxe version of I Love You. with those songs added on as bonus tracks?
If there was a demand for it [I Love You. would be re-released]. Two of the songs almost made the album actually. They weren’t perfected in that time period though.
You’ve performed at this year’s Coachella festival, SXSW and KROQ’s Weenie Roast. For a band that has just broken out, how did it feel performing at these well-known events?
Humbling. It was a feeling of success to a degree. We set out wanting to play Coachella, so to do that in our first year as a band is a great feeling.
You were on tour with Imagine Dragons for July and September. How has touring with them been? Would you tour with them again?
Both times [touring with them] were great. Really cool dudes. We would play Super Smash [Bros.] for N64 on our down time. It was a fun experience but I think we are ready to play our own shows for a bit.