Ever since the release of their album “I Love You” in 2012, the Neighbourhood, a self-proclaimed “dark-pop” band, has been taking the music industry with a storm. Their music is a flawless fusion of the best from diverse genres of music. It’s sugary pop gone rogue: booming bass and swooning synths, with hints of rap and R&B here and there. The band works tirelessly in ensuring their sound, and image, is “just right”. Their obsession with being viewed only in black and white- whether in clothes, music videos, or pictures- is just one example of their sensitivity to detail.

Outside the Paradise Rock Club on the night of the Neighbourhood’s concert. (Photo by Tarushi Sharma)

The Neighbourhood was in our neighborhood last October to perform at the Paradise Rock Club. The rock club, asserting itself as a “hot spot of Boston nightlife”, boasts performances from a variety of genres: hip hop, electronic, and rock, to name a few. A relatively intimate venue, it was packed from wall to wall the day of the concert.

While the opening performances by Lovelife and Ghost Loft were impressive, anticipation was steadily building throughout the crowd for the main act. Slowly, but surely, all the members of the Neighbourhood filed on to the small stage with a cool Californian composure, clad in black and white, of course. Cheers of an insane magnitude greeted the main vocalist, Jesse Rutherford, when he finally sauntered on stage, plastic water bottle in hand. Grinning, he took the mic, complimenting Boston for always making the band feel so loved. The water bottle, Jesse explained, was for his throat. He had a sore throat, and it was our duty as the audience to sing for him when he couldn’t- a duty each and every person there that night took to heart.

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Jesse Rutherford, lead singer, shown in black and white at the request of the band. (Photo by Tarushi Sharma)

The show began- more like erupted- with a sudden flash of lights. Sore throat or not, Jesse’s voice was hypnotic, perfectly complementing the thumping beats and swooning resonations that engulfed the entire venue. The band’s enthusiasm was infectious. The entire crowd, though shoulder to shoulder with one another, was singing and dancing with an energy rivaled only by the band itself. There was never a dull moment, with Jesse running to all sides of the stage, high-fiving ecstatic fans lucky enough to be in the front, or pumping his arms up and down, up and down, as if suggesting that the crowd was not excited enough.

The end came as abruptly as the start. After a large “Thank you Boston” and flash of lights, the Neighbourhood disappeared. The trance the band had put their fans in was swiftly broken. The crowd, in an effort to relieve all the adrenaline pumping through their veins, roared in unison at an empty stage. The show was over, but satisfaction and appreciation for the mysterious black-and-white Californian band lingered.

I later got the opportunity to interview the band. Their responses, as you will soon see, embody the band’s character: straightforward and sincere, with subtle undertones of humor.

Is there a reason for using the British spelling of the word neighborhood?

The “u” was added to our name because the original spelling of the neighborhood was taken by another band or something, so our manager suggested [adding a “u”] and we ended up liking it with the “u” more.

What is the significance of the upside down house?

We all come from the same neighborhood and we all live in the suburbs, so it was something that represented where we come from.

Album cover for ‘I Love You’. (Source: The NBHD)

 What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

I consider it to be dark pop. My biggest influences in music have been the Beatles, Metallica, and failure.

 Could you briefly describe the music-making process? How long do you spend working on a song, from start to finish?

Usually it starts with somebody having an idea that the whole band likes. Then we just build off of that idea and record it into Logic Pro. Usually it varies for the amount of time it takes us to write a song. Sometimes it can take up to a few days to a couple of hours. It all depends.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge?

I think the biggest challenge for us as a band so far has been us being perceived the way we want to be looked at. I don’t think we have overcame that just yet, but we’re starting too.

What’s the most bizarre thing to happen while you were onstage and/or on tour?

When we played at SXSW last year the first show we did one of the speakers caught on fire in the middle of our set.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hang with friends and go shopping.

How do you all “discover” new music? Do you prefer a particular type of music?

I’m actually really bad at discovering new music so I usually let someone discover it for me and then show me, but other than that I will listen to the radio in my car when I can.

How do you think music has changed-for the better and worse- over the years?

It’s changed for the better and worse because of technology. It’s better because it allows bands to consist of more than just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. It’s worse because it allows anyone to be able to create music and put it on the internet whenever they want, so there’s a lot more mediocre music floating around in the world.

 I know you all feel strongly about the colors black and white. What are your thoughts on the color gray?

Grey is cool, but it’s frowned upon.

All members of the band (with ex-drummer Bryan Sammis) in their usual black and white. (Source: Union Events)

What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

If they’re serious about being in a successful band, then I would say put 100% of their time into it and concentrate only on that.

What’s in store for the future of the band? For you all personally? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

We’re going to keep touring, writing music, and be more relevant in pop culture. I would say all that stuff that I just said has to do with us personally. [In ten years], hopefully the biggest band in the world.

If you could go back in time and talk to 16-year-old you, what would you say? Would you give him any advice?

The only advice I would say is stop sagging your pants.

Rapid Fire!

Favorite food? Pizza
Favorite season? Summer
Favorite movie? Midnight in Paris
Favorite song? Another Space Song
Favorite book? Holes
Biggest pet peeve?  The wind
Mac or PC? Mac
Black or white? Black
Milk’s favorite cookie is: Oreo
High School is: Lame
Love is: Life
Life is: Love

The band will be back in Boston on May 23, 24, and 25 to perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival. Featuring “the biggest and best acts in live music” the event is held in City Hall Plaza. All ages are welcome and children under 10 are free. Tickets can be bought online and on the days of the event.

By Tarushi Sharma