Unfamiliar with Against the Current? That's about to change. The pop-rock trio have been making music together for a few years now, quickly finding Internet fame through YouTube (the video for their latest single, "Paralyzed," has over seven million views...and was posted less than two weeks ago) with both covers and original material—but don't call them YouTube celebs. Fast forward to the present and the band are gearing up for a debut full-length out on pop-punk staple label Fueled By Ramen (Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco) due out in early 2016, with promise of a pre-order at the end of the year, an overseas tour in August followed by U.S. dates in the fall.
We sat down with vocalist Chrissy Costanza, drummer Will Ferri and guitarist Dan Gow at New York City's Webster Hall to talk Internet, idenity and their hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY.
How did you guys meet and start writing?
Will: Dan and I met in, like, third grade and we've been in bands ever since. We're best friends, singers have been in and out of the band, members always changing. Eventually we met Chrissy through a friend of ours and it stuck. We've been writing original music ever since. We met her [and] thought, 'This is cool, this works.'
Chrissy: They had multiple different bands with multiple different members. It was always the two of them but different names, different lineups, different sounds. When I joined the name changed to Against the Current.
“We're the black sheep. We're the black sheep of YouTube.”
What does the name mean? If you google it you get a lot of, like, eco-friendly stuff?
Will: We're trying to save the environment.
Dan: It's actually from the last line of The Great Gatsby.
Chrissy: The line is "So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past." We've interpreted it as the meaning of us [when we] went against the current, against the grain and did what felt natural to us...regardless of what we thought we were supposed to be doing. We threw all of that out the window. We existed how we wanted to.
Will: Our music says a lot about it, too, like the fact that we broke out of our hometown scene quickly. I feel like people are stuck in a cycle of "Oh, there's this new band, I'm going to try and be like them. We're going to play a bunch of local shows." We wanted bigger things than that.
Dan: We went for a global market with the Internet, YouTube and all that.
Chrissy: We did something that bands are kind of afraid of, or at least used to be, [which] is the YouTube scene. They don't want the YouTube stigma. We were like, "It's a great platform. People all over the world know our music." We're about to tour in Asia and the U.K. and Europe as headliners. We've never been on a support tour over there. We get to go to all those countries. It's not something to be afraid of. We wanted to get our music out there.
What is the YouTube stigma?
Will: Being a cover artist. The idea that "Oh you're friends with all these other YouTube artists. You must hang out all the time."
Dan: We don't know a single one of them.
Will: They have their own little world. It's not for us.
Chrissy: They have this community that's glued together [and the stigma is] that they're only doing covers and they're a certain type of people. I don't know. We don't really have a lot of friends on YouTube.
Will: We're like the black sheep. We're the black sheep of YouTube. It's like "Whoa, they have all these subscribers, but thirty videos. Who are these people?"
“We don't really want to fit in to one section. If we're able to be grouped into one category then we've become something that already exists.”
It almost sounds like the Internet answer to hardcore communities—the whole, "we have to stick together" mentality. What's the scene in Poughkeepsie like?
Dan: There was a lot of pop-rock when we were growing up, like, Matchbook Romance is from there. We Are The In Crowd. Now us.
Will: It used to be a lot better than it is. Now it's pretty rough. It's basically pop-punk and hardcore. That's all it is.They just play pizza shops. No one plays at the venues anymore. The whole pop-punk revival thing is just weird.
You recently signed to Fueled By Ramen, congrats! How did that come about?
Will: They approached us! We just started talking to them. It was the most authentic, natural thing ever. They were super interested in the band and what we were doing. We met with them before a few times. We had a few other labels in mind but they just felt right the instant we met them. It's a small team, they're really passionate.
Chrissy: They're passionate about what we are now. We've heard before: "You guys could be this, you should do that, you will be this." Fueled by Ramen was like "We love what you are now. We want to just make that bigger and bigger and bigger."
You describe yourself as "pop rock" but resonate with the Alternative Press, pop-punk world.
Will: Alternative, pop rock, indie all these kind of things. It's universal.
Chrissy: We've always had a hard time giving ourselves a genre because even on our EP, if you listen to the Gravity EP there are really slow, ballad-y songs, there are the pop songs. "Gravity" is way more pop, but then "Fireproof" is way more rock. "Talk" is way more pop-punk. Even the songs we've written recently, we've written some indie-pop songs. It's so hard for us to categorize ourselves as one thing.
In that pop-punk world, though, where do you see your place?
Dan: We'd rather be on the radio than [performing like] all our friends at their hometown pizza shop show.
Chrissy: I think that ties into our name and the meaning behind our name, going Against the Current. We don't really want to fit in to one section. If we're able to be grouped into one category then we've become something that already exists, probably. We want all of those kids that would come out to that pizza shop to come to our show and all of those kids who know us from the radio to come to that show. We have kids that come to our show that have been coming to concerts for years, and ones that it's their first concert and they just wanted to see it. I think that's the best way to do it.
And you get to prove a few cynics wrong, make a few people angry.
Chrissy: Definitely gotta piss a few people off.