By: Garrett Bethmann
Spring is the time for celebrating new beginnings and provides a fitting opportunity for Seattle’s Racoma to release its refreshing debut album This Front Room.
Racoma is another humble yet interesting part of Seattle’s large and influential music scene to marvel at, a simple flower found in the crack of the sidewalk that becomes prettier the longer you take the time to look at its petals and colors. Glenn Haider (vocals, guitar), Sean Collopy (lead guitar, vocals), Eliot Stone (drums, vocals) and Spencer Templeman (bass guitar) are simple guys who love pizza and have a comforting way of charging vulnerable folk-pop songwriting with the electricity of Seattle’s alternative rock scene, leaving a zing in your earbuds that you will feel tingling in your soul. They’ve found a way to blend the earnest bombast of Arcade Fire with the bedroom indie vibes of Postal Service, giving both millennials and their salt-and-pepper-bearded fathers who grew up on Soundgarden and Daniel Johnston something to enjoy on an easy Sunday.
For these reasons, Going Left Music is stoked to premiere Racoma’s debut album This Front Room before it is officially released this upcoming Friday May 1st.
It’s a revealing introduction, with the band inviting you into their home of sorts (Haider and Collopy were roommates in the house the band used to record the album) and letting you hang out in the quiet rooms of their psyche they go into only after everyone has left for the evening. Haider’s lyrics process internalized growing pains like the loss of religion and the complex guilt of a grown child towards his parents. His tender ruminations and airy melodies are lofted in natural tones from Collopy, Stone and Templeman’s light and tight interplay.
The album plays with the melancholy freshness of light rain on a sunny day. “Dog Bones” is a sparkling first look at the album and “The Kicker” is a gentle swerve of a song whose falling guitar lines is one of the highlights on the album. “Fucked Up” thrives on a celestial melody whose electric tension throws sparks up into the night sky, while “Day Drunk” provides the comforting buzz of taking yourself just as you are. The top-down construction of its direct and instantly relatable songs is Racoma’s greatest strength and is the defining feature of This Front Room.
**Please read down below for Going Left Music’s conversation with all the members of Racoma to gain insight into the inspiration and process behind This Front Room.
“This Front Room” – Full Album First Listen
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
*Garrett B: What was some of the first stuff you were getting into as a kid and why was that music attractive to you?
Eliot: Some of the first records that I think really stuck out were Arcade Fire’s Funeral and Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism. That Death Cab album felt to me like a really early morning, like the night has just ended and it’s like this kind of glow of the morning starting. The textures and sounds on that record reflect that to me.
Sean: Figuring out what my taste was in middle school and high school, I was responding to bands like Incubus and Gorillaz and The Beatles. I really was fascinated with innovation and art and bands that would not repeat themselves ever.
*Garrett B: How did you guys link up together and realize that a band was in the cards?
Glenn: I actually moved out here with my wife to pursue music and I worked at the Apple store where I met Sean, who moved out here as well from California to pursue music. So we just started talking about music and sent each other demos and started within a matter of a week or two. We both came out here for that purpose and it was kinda serendipitous in that way.
Eliot came out because we were looking for a drummer maybe two or three years ago. He came to one of our open mics where we first started playing and he liked what we were doing. So we started playing together and it was just really natural. Spencer actually came to some of our shows before and always brought tons of his friends and we just randomly asked him if he would play bass or has played bass. At first he was a little reluctant but then hopped on and it was all natural.
*Garrett B: What did you see in each other’s playing or lyrical ability that first attracted you to putting the band together with this group?
Glenn: I think for me, my favorite thing about playing with these guys is there’s no ego involved, it’s all about serving the song. We’re there to serve the song, I think that’s kind of always been our mantra.
Sean: Glenn’s is voice is just killer and the little demos he was working on were really interesting. So I knew if I was getting excited about that kind of thing that early on that there is going to be a lot of fun to work out. Eliot’s just so steady, not just as a player but as a personality and really important for our band. Spencer is very much like that too, very much a calm presence, which is really helpful when we are trying to push and put our egos aside and just figure out what works best for the music.
Eliot: They had already had a bunch of stuff written when I joined. It seemed like these guys were taking this really seriously, and that’s kind of a rare thing in the Seattle area when it comes to musicians. It was actually kind of unexpected.
*Garrett B: What have you noticed about the music that you’re hearing that maybe you haven’t heard in someone else? What makes a song sound like a Racoma song?
Spencer: You can tell it’s Racoma with Glenn’s singing of course, because of his amazing voice. I never really hear anything that I don’t like. It’s all very well put together and I was happy to join in on something that was so exciting. It was something that I could pay attention to the whole time.
Eliot: One of our goals for our record was to make it sound accessible and honest. This is something that feels real and I think when I listen to our music, I hear those natural tones. Glenn’s melodies are to me very unique and good. Sean’s guitar parts always sit really well and the bass lines from Spencer are tasteful and great.
*Garrett B: In the promo I received, you said This Front Room was about the “symbolism of home and the narratives we uncover from the rooms we’ve closed off.” What exactly were some of the rooms you wanted to open?
Glenn: A lot of things I’ve internalized for years. Like being part of a church or dealing with my grandpa’s passing. Just a lot of thoughts of my parents and family and how much I love everybody. How confusing it can be at times.
*Garrett B: What was one of the hardest songs to open up emotionally about or you found very hard to articulate?
Glenn: Probably “Morning Cartoons.” It’s something I’ve always kind of never really put my finger on how I felt with my parents. It’s kind of a song about how you feel like you still weren’t the best child, but you never really knew that when you were younger and as you get older there’s guilt and shame you feel for how you acted and took advantage of your parents when you were younger. It was kind of hard to articulate exactly what I was trying to do, especially in the second verse.
*Garrett B: Your song “Day Drunk” is one of my favorites on the album and day drinking has become a little more prevalent in society with everyone staying home. What’s one of the better day drunks you’ve had?
Sean: I tend not to day drink that often, but one of the last times I think was with Glenn and maybe Eliot at the house. We were having practice and then just decided to drink and ended up going to the Spirit gas station to get tacos at some point and came back to drink more. And that actually was the day we wrote “Day Drunk” (laughs).
*Garrett B: With this kind of pause in the economy and in society in general, have you given any thoughts on how you might want to approach the music business and your careers in both the short term and long term?
Sean: I feel like we have had to adopt a new thinking and mindset with this band and make sure that we’re keeping each other accountable with our progress towards goals and things that we want to do. If anything, it may have impacted like our strategies around releasing this album. But I think the way it impacted us was we decided to go forward when a lot of artists are deciding not to put out music or to tour — we’ve cancelled tours as well — but I think we’ve kind of decided to just go for it and see what happens and share the album and see if people enjoy.
In terms of long term, I think for me personally, this time has kind of shown me that I am looking forward to being able to do more music full time because I’ve really enjoyed having my time for music. It also showed me how much work it is and I’ve been preparing myself on all the work that we can be doing going forward.
*Garrett B: Do you have any parting thoughts on This Front Room you want fans to know?
Sean: We put a lot of care into the album and I hope this love reflects all that work we put in and how we feel about each other and the things we are going through. I hope we did it justice.
Glenn: It’s something that we talk about quite often, about being really grateful for everyone who continues to support us and has supported us. I don’t think we’d be anywhere without the first few fans who really pushed our assesto keep making music and stay together. It’s just awesome that we get to release this music to people who are looking forward to it. I think that’s a testament to our fans, who are amazing.