Discovery: Smallpools

Published August 13, 2013

ABOVE: SMALLPOOLS. IMAGE COURTESY OF DAN MONICK

For Sean Scanlon, Mike Kamerman, Joe Intile, and Beau Kuther, this year has been one hell of a ride. In the past month, the members of Smallpools released their first (self-titled) EP and played their first show, after forming under a year ago. It’s not too surprising that Smallpools will be playing with upbeat, indie-pop bands like Walk The Moon, The Mowgli’s, and The Colourist over the course of next few months. The four-piece’s overall sound is fun, danceable electro-pop that gets your head bopping and hips moving. Smallpools’ debut single “Dreaming” has been hitting the airwaves on various summer playlists while topping the charts, and we’re pleased to premiere Magic Man’s remix for the track below. The remix makes the song sound a bit darker and emphasizes the meaning of the lyrics—a fresh take on the summery track.

We spoke with lead singer Sean Scanlon about cheesy lyrics, life in California, and being new to the music scene.

MAKING THE BAND: I’ve known Mike for probably about five years now. We met at SXSW in Austin. We had just been toying around with other projects. We kept in touch. He was from New Jersey, and I was living in New York. We would just go back and forth to each other’s houses and write songs. About two years ago, we said we were going to take it to L.A. and do it for real. Then we met Joe and Beau through some mutual friends and they had just moved in from Oregon. We got in a room together and created this band.

TRACKS & TEAMWORK: Everyone has his own role that we’ve established. Mike and I are roommates, so we write together more often. It usually starts with one guitar lick, idea, chord, or melody from us. We bring it into the room with the guys and jam it out. We kind of create a skeleton of a song with some tentative melodies and chords. Then it’s on me to write the lyrics. I write all the words. Then we take it to our producers. They’re called Captain Cuts. Then we just lay it down, and we have a song, hopefully.

ON “DREAMING” PAST THEIR DEBUT EP: It started through a lot of different phases. It was definitely a hard one to write. A verse would come up, and we wouldn’t know where to go. Days later we’d come up with a three-chorus idea, but the chorus just had some “oohs” and “ahhs.” The lyrics are just being in a situation where everything is all great, and you have it all figured out. Then you have that moment where it all starts to go haywire, and you’re like, “Oh, crap, I really hope I’m in a dream right now because this really sucks.”

BILLY, PAUL, AND BRUCE: A lot of it comes from stuff our parents would listen to when we were younger. I remember being at family barbecues listening to Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Bruce Springsteen playing. I didn’t care about them at the time, but recently looking back on those songs, they’re really well written and stand the test of time. We kind of want to be able to do something a little different, but make a digestible song that will last a long time, not just a “here and gone,” quirky, novelty thing.

NEWBORNS: We first all got in a room together in August of last year. It is really recent. It’s probably about a year now. There was a lot of trial and error. We had a few demos that didn’t make the cut. Eventually when we got hooked up with the producers that we’re working with now, a system came into place where we found out what we wanted it to sound like. The first song didn’t launch until May of this year. I guess we’ve only been in the world for three months or so.

THE SOUND OF CALIFORNIA: I grew up in New York, and I was living in my bubble of a hometown in my parents’ house working as a substitute teacher. When Mike and I took this trek out west, there was this liberating feeling, like we’re putting ourselves in this uncomfortable situation and we have to fend for ourselves. There’s definitely an inspiration and a vibe that came over us by living in California. It drove the upbeat and slightly quirky nature of the songs.

THE CHALLENGES OF CHEESINESS: For me, I feel like one of the biggest challenges are the lyrics. They’re the hardest part, actually, because I write them all. Depending what mood I’m in, I could be writing something that I think is really great, but I bring them into the studio and they can be, like, these few lines you have to change. I think it’s finding out what’s cool to say and what’s cheesy to say in a song. I guess it can be really cheesy, but the point of that cheesiness is to have memorability.

CREATIVE REMIXING: I think Magic Man was in our little circle of friends. They’re friendly with our producers. They had a very good following. I’m pretty sure that we reached out to them to do one. It took us from a carefree, fun song to a more intense one. The words seem like they’re saying something cooler. There’s an ambiance going on. The chords are darker: a little bluer. It’s a little bit more mysterious.

ON THEIR FUTURE FULL-LENGTH: I would assume it [will] not be out by the end of this year, but I don’t know. We’re going to go home and be in the studio when we’re not playing gigs.

SMALLPOOLS WILL PLAY AT ECHOPLEX IN LOS ANGELES WITH SAN CISCO AND AVID DANCER TONIGHT.