Louder with The Bottom Line
‘Who needs Love Island when you have The Bottom Line?’
Packed full of buttery rhythms and uplifting choruses, ‘No Vacation’, the long-awaited sophomore LP from pop punk rabble-rousers The Bottom Line has already been hailed by some as the soundtrack to the long summer nights ahead! Following up the record’s release with their first headline tour in almost 18 months, the four-piece have been setting disenfranchised teenage hearts alight, one city at a time. We caught up with, initially, vocalist Cal and bassist Max before their second night of tour at Gullivers in Manchester to discuss the new album; touring with some of their own teenagehood icons; and which of the band is most likely to need pulling back to the van in time for bus call…
You guys have recently released your album, ‘No Vacation’ - how have you found the response to that record so far?
Cal: Weird as fuck! We played the first show of the album tour last night in Leeds, and every person sung every single word to every single song, it was so weird!
Max: The album’s only been out like a week and a half, and even with [previous EP] ‘I Still Hate You’, we’d just come back off a European tour [when that came out], so we didn’t have that instant surprise of ‘woah, people are singing along?!’
Cal: We’ve had albums before that have been out for a couple of years and when we tour them people don’t sing all the words, so the fact that we’ve had an album out for a week and a half and people are singing all the words is mental! Usually when we get good comments online too, it’s people that we know, but we’ve had strangers tweeting us saying it’s their album of the year, which is crazy!
Max: Last night was the first time we’ve even played most of these songs live, nevermind having people sing them, so it’s been really cool!
The sound of the record is very lively and summery, yet it was inspired by your turbulent times on the road- was reconciling those two things ever a challenge?
Cal: We wrote a lot of the songs on the road anyway, so the lyrics just sort of fell out because we were already in the situation anyway, rather than trying to force them 6 or 8 months later.
Max: In the vein of the pop punk stuff that we play, it’s naturally quite high energy, so we tend to write those upbeat rhythms naturally, but there are also lots of dark undertones in the lyrics as well. I think we are more comfortable with those high energy beats though- and it’s more fun to play live!
With so many crowd-pleasing tunes on this record, how did you go about selecting the singles?
Cal: That was a big debate. Quite astoundingly, the band all chose the same singles, but when we took it to the label and the manager, they were like ‘eh, maybe choose something else’!
Max: It’s a strange one because there are certain songs, like ‘Everything’ and ‘Bad News’ for example, that we’ve tweaking and playing with and even playing live in the past when they didn’t have the lyrics finished and weren’t even really half done, so by the time we got to the end of the album, and those songs were completely set in stone, we were so familiar with these songs that we wanted some of the other 8 or so songs to be the singles because they’re fresh to us as well.
Cal: As much as we’re maybe not reinventing the wheel with this record, there’s some differences- ‘Doomed’ has acoustic all the way through it which isn’t typical for us. We’re usually just two guitars, a bass and drums, and that’s it, but on this record we had electric drums, we had synthy stuff in it, we had some acoustic, so we wanted to try and push all that kind of thing towards the singles so you see a little bit of diversity from us, rather than just standard pop punk.
The pop punk scene in the UK at the moment is so huge- does having that community around you act as a support network, or does the sheer volume of bands coming through ever make it harder to make yourselves heard?
Max: I don’t really feel like we get that much support from it- for some band sit can be incredibly beneficial
Cal: I don’t think we’ve ever really been in it that much- we’ve been posting in those kinds of forums and stuff, but we’ve never really had much limelight in there really. No press is bad press though really
Max: Recently for us, it’s been the Rocksound and Alt Press communities that have given us that support and getting people who are part of this millions-strong community showing interest is a much better place to be in anyway.
Cal: It’s weird, because before we signed with Marshall, we were the ones who’d be trying to organise that stuff, so it seems weird now to get an email like ‘you’re going to be in Rocksound’, and just be like ‘oh, okay’
Max: Five years ago, I would have shit myself if I knew we would get a three-page spread in Rocksound! I literally ran up to Tesco the day that came out and bought it!
[At this point, we are joined by guitarist Tom and drummer Matt, who, following introductions and some jovial jibes at Cal's joking lack of charitable spirit, are quickly brought up to speed on the progress so far]
You’ve been on some big tours with the likes of Waterparks and Simple Plan- has being on those tours influenced your own live shows?
Cal: Oh yeah! Every time we go on tour with a band, if there’s something that they do that’s better than the way we do it, then we’ll always take it from them!
Max: The Simple Plan guys taught us literally everything- even down to gear, like how to pack gear, what gear to get, everything. You always want to pick stuff up from bands that have been doing this for a lot longer!
Out of curiosity, who is the most sensible when you’re out on tour, and who is the one you have to keep in check?
Tom: Max is like a pet!
Matt: When he’s sober, Max’s probably the most sensible, but when he’s drunk he’s the most trouble!
Max: These two [gesturing to Tom and Cal) are probably the most ridiculous before 10pm, and then I sort of take over at 10pm- they clock out, and I clock in!
Matt: I think Cal is just a constant level of stupid, and then Max is the catalyst for the rest of it-
Cal: On days when it’s me, Max and Tom all at the same level, that’s dangerous!
Tom is the curator of Teddy Rocks Festival, which you guys also played this year- how was that experience and how did it feel smashing your fundraising target of £100,000?
Tom: It was amazing! It’s a very long year to get to the festival, for people it’s just a weekend, but for me it’s a year-long thing. It can be quite underwhelming sometimes, because you work so hard to get there and then it’s done, and before you blink a whole year’s work is over, but to see how far it’s come and to see how many people came through that field was incredible! I’m unbelievably proud of everyone involved – even of some people, like Cal, who hate charity!
Cal: Just for the audio… I do hate charity!
Tom: It is a really beautiful festival though, I’m so proud of everyone involved. It’s a huge relief as well- I really wish we’d never announced the totals back in the day at the pub, because every year it’s been like ‘bloody hell, that’s so much money!’… now we’ve got to do it again!
Following on from this tour, you’re playing 2000 Trees Festival- are you excited for it?
Cal: We’re super excited about it aren’t we? We were meant to play it last year, but Download clashed so we couldn’t do it, but everyone we speak to in the industry or in bands says it’s the best festival they’ve ever been to in the UK, so the fact that we’re on a stage quite late at night is going to be really cool!
Max: It’s a great slot, and for a band of our size to get such a good slot straight off the bat is really cool!
The conversation then descended into a flurry of chatter, (out of which the unforgettable line ‘Cal’s crowdsurfing is basically Cupid!’ emerged and stamped it’s mark forever on our collective memory)!. The Bottom Line have been making waves through the pop punk scene that are worthy of comparison to that California ocean that became their most recent muse: if you’re looking for your pogoing champions of the summer, you may well have just found them.
'No Vacation' is out now via Marshall Records.
Check out the video for the band's latest single, 'In Your Memory', below:
The Bottom Line will be appearing at 2000 Trees Festival this weekend, at 7:10pm on the New Stage- tickets can be found here.