Family of the Year are the kind of band that are hard not to like… even if you have little interest in any of their apparent influences. The Los Angeles quartet blend classic, sunshiny California folk pop of the 1960s with the kind of slightly-sassy pop used to soundtrack summer skateboarding sessions. Their sound is explosively joyous (whether celebrating a sunrise or proudly proclaiming a moving-on), yet their delivery is so passionately sincere that even the coldest hearts can’t help but be charmed. So it’s no surprise that their music has found its way into TV shows like American Idol and Girls and that they themselves have appeared on the likes of CONAN and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and have shared stages with artists like Mumford & Sons and Ben Folds.
Family of the Year came together in 2009 with brothers Joe (frontman) and Sebastian (drummer) Keefe got together with guitarist James Buckey and keyboardist/vocalist Christina Schroeter. Since then they’ve recorded two full-length, most recently 2012’s Loma Vista, which has gained the band an abundance of critical praise and sent them journeying back and forth, across the land, numerous times. They’re currently on the road, supporting Atlas Genius, and will be playing Theatre of Living Arts this Saturday, October 12th. I recently got a chance to chat with Christina about this whirlwind that has been the first four years of Family of the Year.
Izzy Cihak: So you’ve gained quite a bit of critical acclaim. I’m actually sitting in front of 16 pages (front and back) of press materials that Nettwerk sent me. Have there been any critical characterizations of your sound that you found to be especially on point… or just especially amusing?
Christina Schroeter: Wow, sixteen pages! Well, Steven Tyler did call us The Mamas and The Papas on acid, to which everyone asks, “Weren’t they already on acid?” And since I can’t drop a cool piece of info like that without explaining it, a friend of ours used to work with Tyler and was driving him home one night. She happened to have our CD in her car and that’s how he heard us.
IC: And, for that matter, what is it that you think is most important to know about Family of the Year?
CS: We’re honest songwriters. We’re singing you our secrets.
IC: What do you consider to be the band’s most significant influences and inspirations?
CS: Heartbreak and hanging out.
IC: Your music has wound up in a ton of really cool places, most significantly a lot of major TV shows. Do you have a favorite place that your music has appeared? … And for part two, is there anywhere you would love for your music to be featured… whether entirely realistic or not?
CS: “Hero” is the featured song in this new German movie called Frau Ella. We saw a bit of the film and how the music was used. It’s so beautiful. I’m so bummed it’s only in German because it looks to be a really good movie. Also, one of our good friends, Natalie Morales, is on a new TV show called Trophy Wife. She’s been a big supporter of our band for a long time and has even joined us on stage a couple times. Just a couple weeks ago our song “The Stairs” was the closing song on the show. I was so excited to see her on TV, and then our song started playing at the end of the episode. I had forgotten it was going to be on the show and I felt so proud of us! I want to be on The Simpsons like Red Hot Chili Peppers. I want to play at Moe’s! That would be the ultimate.
IC: On a similar note. You’ve accomplished quite a bit as a band in a relatively short period of time. What have been the highlights of Family of the Year so far?
CS: We recently played at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. The Beatles played there. Is that even real!??
IC: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I have to ask if you have any favorite memories of the city, or just any particular thoughts on the city? You’ve played here a handful of times now.
CS: We love Philadelphia! We’ve had some wild nights there. Last time we were in town we played an awesome show and our friends Blondfire happened to be in town, so we went to their show after. It’s always fun to meet up with friends in a different city!
IC: You’re currently on tour with Atlas Genius and have an upcoming stop here in Philadelphia. What can be expected of the live experience, for those who may be yet to see you?
CS: A fun show, duh! I hope Philadelphia likes to party.
IC: What does 2014 hold for Family of the Year? Any chance we can expect new music in the near future… If so, would you care to share what direction your sound seems to be going in?
CS: We are currently working on songs and hope to record the new album in the early months of the new year and release it as soon as possible! We are so excited to get some new music out there and play it for everyone. We have lots and lots of demos. We’re all over the place. Stylistically, we just write whatever we want and we’ll deal with the record later. I mean, we’ve rapped on some stuff and, I must say, Joe is a pretty good rapper.