Photo by Ashbridge Studios
At a first listen, I couldn’t quite decipher the album that popped up on my Apple Music one day. The cover, with its psychedelic watercolor and drawing of a drunken heart, gave no clue either. There was a bit of punk, with three wailing guitars and the merciless beat on the skin of the drum kit. There was a hint of new-wave, infused with synthesizers and the carefree sound heard on 80’s alternative records. There was a smidge of indie folk, emotional lyricism akin to Elliot Smith and the singer-songwriters of the last few decades. The record was a beautiful mess. I was intrigued immediately.
That carefree, yet considerate, music is the kind only Stoops could make. Hailing from Philadelphia, the five-piece band released their debut, self-titled album this past year. It is a fun and accurate introduction into the multidimensionality of the band, making Stoops a group to watch. I had the chance to chat with guitarist Gabe Rosen over email, and get to know the band better.
Can you introduce yourselves, and what instruments you play?
I’m Gabe and I play guitar and do some vocals. Sam plays guitar as well and is the main vocalist. Johnny holds down the synth and, at times, a third guitar, as well as some vocal harmonies. Breshon slaps the bass while also singing some harmonies. And Al is our drummer boy!
How did you guys get started? Where did the name Stoops come from?
Sam and I started Stoops about a year and a half ago as a fun thing to do out of boredom. We recorded some demos in my bedroom and eventually found ourselves with an album’s worth of stuff. From there, we figured we might as well record them for real, so we hit up our friend Keith Abrams. Once we had the album finished, we gathered the rest of the fellas and started playing shows. Now we’re here! The name came from us trying to find something that related to where we were from. It was one of many that we were going back and forth on for awhile.
Congratulations on the release of your first album! We love it! Can you tell us a bit about it?
Thanks! We’re so glad you like it! The writing of the album was pretty organic. We never really set out to make an album - we kind of just took each song as they came. We recorded five of the ten songs with the intention of releasing them as an EP, but we just kept writing quicker than we could record. That’s why we decided to ultimately go the route of a full length. Recording was so much fun! We did it all with our friend Keith Abrams, mainly at his house and an old rehearsal space we had. Keith engineered, produced, and mixed everything. He’s a wizard. Sam and I played all the instruments on the recordings, but we are really looking forward with the next record to recording with the full band.
The album has wide spectrum of sounds that plays really well cohesively. Do you have a different technique for writing songs that may not sound the same? Do they come together all at once?
“Meet On The Corner” and “Wings” were actually a part of the first batch of songs we wrote, which also included “Loser Denial”, “Flashlight”, and “Ask Me All The Time”. Those definitely have a more juvenile feel to them because Sam and I were inadvertently trying to capture our childhood. We’ve grown up together since we were ten.
The other five, “Holding Back Your Hair”, “Too Much Time”, “The Stain”, “Flattering Myself”, and “Nervous Smile”, were written about a month later. It’s crazy how much our writing styles changed in that month. There was no conscious goal to write differently. I think we were just listening to different things.
We got lucky that the songs all play well with each other. We all have very different influences so I think that’s why our sound changes from song to song. The approach is always the same though - we just hang out and see what happens. I know that sounds kind of wack, but we really don’t ever want to try too much. Otherwise, the songs can become contrived. We just see where it goes, and if at the end we don’t like it, we move on to the next one.
Lyrically, each track is also very much its own. I love how carefree songs like “Loser Denial” are, talking about the joys of being young and having nowhere to go, as well as the honesty of “The Stain”, and the mistakes that come with being in love. What is writing like for the band? Do you find it challenging putting yourself into your music, or something that comes easy?
The songwriting process for this band has been different for both me and Sam. Before Stoops, we were both the primary songwriters in our own projects. Sam was in The Chelsea Kills and I was in Tangiers.
As much as conceptually there could be issues, we honestly have a very easy time writing together. Every lyric is written by both of us together. The only songs we did separately were “Flattering Myself” (me) and “The Stain” (Sam). When it comes to putting personal experiences into songs, it has become cathartic for us. In the beginning it was scary, but now it is a way to say what’s on our minds unabashedly rather than keeping it bottled up.
How has living in Philadelphia influenced you as a band or as individuals? I know there’s a great music scene there.
It’s great getting to be a part of a community of like-minded musicians. There is a healthy competition having friends who are in awesome bands, writing amazing songs. It just makes us want to impress them and impress ourselves.
Stoops has also played with a wide variety of other bands. Who are some of your favorite people to share a bill with? Where are some of your favorite places to play?
It’s always fun playing with our friends’ bands at home. Any show is a good one when the bill is full of friends’ bands. When it comes to other places, we’ve had a really good time in Nashville and Asheville. Also, Rockaway Beach has always been great for us. Chicago too! We’re currently planning a tour for March 1st - March 16th that will bring us through the Midwest, down South and back to the Northeast, so we are really excited to go back to some of these spots and hit new ones!
What can fans expect from your live shows?
We gonna get LOUD. We gonna get RAUCOUS. We gonna have FUN! And lots of dancing!
Any musical bucket list items?
We just want to tour as much as possible and play for as many people as we can. Oh, and maybe go to Europe! That would be cool.
What can we expect from Stoops in the future?
More records and more tours!
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Thanks for listening to our record! We look forward to making many more for you to listen to!
Be sure to check out Stoops’ music here!