2012 was the year The Neighbourhood started buzzing. With songs like “Sweater Weather” and “Female Robbery,” they filled a void that has existed in popular music for years now. The music was catchy enough to be called pop, edgy enough to be called rock, and there was a clear hip-hop influence that cut through it all. It was music that fit in at alternative radio stations but could be remixed by rappers. The band’s following started growing rapidly.
But while 2012 was the introduction, 2013 was the year The Neighbourhood blew up. Their debut album I Love You. came out in April, and throughout the year they toured continuously, made TV appearances, and took a giant leap from buzz band to mainstream success. As this gets published, “Sweater Weather” is currently No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, right between Lorde and Lady Gaga.
We asked lead singer Jesse Rutherford to write something reflecting on his year. We suggested “2013: The Year I Blew Up.” He responded with “2013: The Year I Wasn’t Anything.” Read it below.
2013: The Year I Wasn’t Anything
The past year has taught me a lot. I’ve had the highest of highs & the lowest of highs. I’d like to consider myself a generally happy person. I have my bad days & bitch fits like everyone. I complain when things don’t go my way. I’m constantly unsatisfied. My anxiety eats me alive. But through the crazy tour schedule & the world that is “the industry” I have found out a lot about myself & the people that are around me everyday.
Tonight I’m in a hotel room in West Palm Beach, Florida & I’m having trouble sleeping. This problem doesn’t usually occur anymore because I am pretty much always tired from the constant changing of time zones & relentless calendar, but tonight I’m restless. I am writing this knowing that I will release this statement right before the release of our new album #000000 & #FFFFFF.
So I’m laying in this very stiff bed in “basically Miami” Florida & I decided to listen to the album my friends & I created & released in April of 2013. I Love You. is a solid record. Typically, I am hesitant to say I think it’s good because I am comparing it to what we’ve written since, but being the pyscho, judgmental, perfectionist that I am, it feels good to listen back to our first album & say it’s good. It’s not great, but it’s pretty damn good. We learned how to write a song & ran with what we knew & maybe changed a few chord progressions along the way, but it’s okay, it’s good. I listen to the opening track “How” & think to myself, “Why the fuck does it sound like 30 BPM faster than how I’m used to playing it every night? “Let It Go” comes on & I can barely finish it because my vocal performance was so ehhhhhhhhh, but those 808s in the verse keep me interested. I hear little harmonies in the background of “Everybody’s Watching Me” that I completely forgot I even did. When “W.D.Y.W.F.M?” gets into the chorus I think, “Those ‘WHAT!’ vocal samples from that Lex Luger drum pack should be waaayy louder in the mix. The demo was better.” So many emotions happening all at once.
That’s really what it is too—not just little thoughts that I quickly move past. These are the things that people are able to use their senses to hear/feel/taste/visualize of me as a human being & they aren’t all as accurately portrayed as I hear them in my head.
“Sweater Weather” is the most interesting song to me. I dig that song. It’s a solid pop record. It definitely stands out but it fits in suprisingly better than I expect it to when I imagine it next to songs that I really think sonically describe The Neighbourhood, like “Afraid” or “Female Robbery.” This song is special in so many ways. It layed the groundwork for the career that me & my friends now have as we barely approach our mid 20s. It put us at No. 1 for eight weeks straight on the alternative/rock charts & STILL hasn’t hit its peak as we steadily move up the Billboard top 40. It’s done all these great things for us but it still is not enough. It isn’t enough for us personally as creators (production/consistency/overall vision) & it clearly isn’t enough for pop culture—a few weeks at No. 1 on the alternative charts doesn’t mean much once the world finds a new Lorde.
I feel loved by many. Now it’s about being heard by more.
Things are good. My friends & I have a platinum record. I am cool as fuck around my hometown now. I hold my head high. Girls I used to dream about are at my fingertips (& maybe even more than that). Kids in the local high schools are dressing like me. My mother & sister are proud of me. I am truly overwhelmed in flattery & appreciation. All we want in this world is to be loved, & I am lucky I get to experience the feeling in all aspects, both socially & psychologically. I feel loved by many. Now it’s about being heard by more.
I am absolutely ignorant to politics. I turn my cheek to it. I used to think it was because I was just too young & it was boring as all hell, but now I think I’ve found true reasoning as to why I don’t pay attention. It’s because I’ve seen it & heard it all before. I believe this is how people feel about bands. We’ve seen & heard THE BEST. Right? The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. The Clash. Metallica. Guns N’ Roses. Nirvana. Radiohead. The “band” had its time. “Rock ‘n’ Roll” had its time. Time continues and things pass. Rock n’ Roll as we know it is dead. I play these alternative/rock radio festival shows & I have to say… I’ve felt more rock ‘n’ roll in so many other places in my life that don’t have the title, but have the vibe. Skateboarding is rock ‘n’ roll. Fashion is rock ‘n’ roll. Anxiety is rock ‘n’ roll. Tattoo culture is rock ‘n’ roll. SINGLE MOTHERS ARE FUCKING ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. All of these things demand your attention. The rock ‘n’ roll I’ve heard about was a cult. It was feared. It was respected. It wasn’t college & safe. It was knowledge & angst!!! It was what makes your skin crawl. It was the truth, whether you wanted it or not.
The past year has taught me a lot, but for a second I think I let the “wires” get the best of me. (Now he’s quoting his own song… great.) Yes, I am, & to quote another one, “I’d say my main influence is myself.” I let these charts & these blogs & these opinions start to affect me. I let the rise & success of artists that I didn’t see greatness in confuse me & bring out the competitive side of me. Now the year is over, & there is one major lesson I’ve learned: I don’t want to be anything.
Now the year is over, & there is one major lesson I’ve learned: I don’t want to be anything.
I make music for my neighborhood. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone if I have the support from the people I love & trust. I don’t want to be a fucking GOD or a LORD. I want to be a human being, & no chart or blog can ever tell me that I’m anything other than that.