The Neighbourhood's Zach Abels: "The Timing Is Right"
Artists are often defined by the success of their latest project -- whether they sink or swim depends on public perception, but it's up to the musician to decide if they keep moving on. For The Neighbourhood, the Southern California-based five-piece that was nothing if not ubiquitous across radio stations and Billboard charts last year, success followed the release of "Sweater Weather," an infectious pop gem that blended young lust and vocal hooks for a chart-cracking hit. While their debut, I Love You., was released almost a year ago, the band has yet to step off the ride that the record put them on. If anything, they want more of the same.
"I always say this, but the worst thing about having success is once you have it, all you can think about is wanting more," says guitarist Zach Abels. "That's pretty much how I think we feel, we've had an incredible year, it's been awesome, but we want more and we're still not at the level that we want to be at."
They've already broken into some upper echelons, however. With I Love You., a #25 debut on the Billboard charts, and the embracing of "Sweater Weather," The Neighbourhood has rapidly developed a rabid fan base that stays in tune with the band's actions across a variety of social media platforms. Maybe because they're a band composed of millennials, but such youth has proven to be more of an edge than a bane when it comes to connectivity with their "hoodlums," as they've been affectionately coined. For band members who grew up with social media playing a key role in their communication, there's no publicist typing up tweets or liking Facebook posts -- it's just the guys themselves.
"I think our appearance is a large part of why people are so about us," Abels says. "We're always on social media, interacting with fans. We're letting people into who we are, and I think people like that."
Part of that appearance is The Neighbourhood's stark black and white aesthetic, which Abels says "is staying for good," regardless of stylistic changes as the band evolves. After all, the band only started penning songs a little under three years ago and is between albums at the moment, though they're releasing a project labeled Black & White. Abels refuses to divulge details on the project, simply saying that "it's just progress." However, if anything has changed for the band, it's their advancement in songwriting post-"Sweater Weather."
"It's kind of a pressure because obviously you want to outdo the last thing you did, and people might say 'Oh my god, I wonder how they're going to top that,' but I'm not really worried," Abels explains. "We've gotten a lot better at songwriting since we wrote that song, and we've written better songs than that that are pretty epic."
While the full picture has yet to be seen, whether it's changes in their musical approach or the maturation of a young group, there's a demographic that's eagerly awaiting The Neighbourhood's next act. Did such a meteoric rise come from solely from talent? Possibly -- this is a band that wrote its first song ("Sweater Weather," invariably) in 2011, released said song in 2012, dropped an album in 2013 and has yet to make as large a move thus far this year. More than anything, however, that ascension feels like serendipity to Abels.
"The timing is right," he states. "We wrote a song that people like, and then when they decide to dive into the band more, it's all right there. I think the stars aligned."
The Neigbourhood are scheduled to perform at Cityscape on Friday, March 7 as part of the Viva Phoenix Festival. Tickets are $25.
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