Welcome to The Uncharted Hour Interview Session 1 with Little Cities from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada featuring Matthew Hannah (Lead Guitar, Vocals) and Josh Pitre (Synthesizer, Back up Vocals).
Chandler: Welcome to The Uncharted Hour and with me today is Little Cities from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. First, I would just like to thank you for being here and taking the time to talk to me today.
Little Cities: Thank you for having us, man. It's an honor.
Chandler: Alright, let's just get right into it. Can you just introduce yourselves and tell us your roll in the band?
Little Cities: My name's Matthew Hannah and I play lead guitar and vocals. And I'm Josh Pitre and I play synthesizer and backup vocals.
Chandler: Alright so we can start right at the beginning. How did this project come about and how did you come together?
Little Cities: We started playing tribute shows. We just thought it’d be fun to pick like two songs play some my chemical romance and we were getting outstanding crowds showing up to the shows. Like, oh sweet like the music's still alive and proud and people still listen to this obviously, so what if we started writing our own music. And kinda met up in the basement and took bits and pieces of different members that participated in different tributes and just started writing our own music. And then we geared up with Collin Buchanan and he helped us kinda form our songs to where they are today.
Chandler: That’s super cool. I love good stories like that, that’s awesome. So I've read a few things about you guys and it says how your band likes "to breathe life into an almost lost brand of punk music while under the radar with an unapologetic focus and vision". Can you guys talk about that and how you try and incorporate that into your band?
Little Cities: Sure, pop punk music in general, especially in eastern Canada, there's not a lot of stuff going on. We really look up to Seaway and Like Pacific and a few others kinda in the Toronto area. But, um, in general in this area in Canada, it's a lot of indie rock and a lot of different electronic bands and folk music too, so finding a group of guys that were passionate enough to write pop punk music is really cool, and I know myself, too, coming on board with the synthesizer, that kinda adds a pop element to it, so it kinda gives us a unique look and feel to the sound. But yeah, we’re kinda pushing forward and we’re not afraid to say we’re a pop punk band although a lot of bills that we hop on around here are mixed genre because there are not a lot of bands in the pop punk domain in our area, so we’re pretty adaptable to hop on and partner with different bands of different genres, but we’re not going to hide behind the fact that, at our core, we’re a pop punk band and we’re influenced by a lot of pop punk bands.
Chandler: That’s super cool, I love your sound. This is more of a comment than a question, but I’ve watched your live videos and I know you play the synth and I just love that you guys have an actual synth player on the stage and you don’t play with a backing track. That was awesome.
Little Cities, Thanks man, yeah josh killed it, and if we didn’t have him on stage we wouldn’t have anywhere near the fan base we have now. Like its just such an entertainment factor, all the extra stuff he does, jumping around, really brings the stage to life.
Chandler: I just think that’s awesome. So when you write your music, do you have a specific message that you like to portray with your songs? Like I know some bands like Real Friends like to talk about mental health. Is there anything you guys try to do with that?
Little Cities: We try to keep it pretty light hearted to be honest with you. Like we all have pretty busy lives, and when we first started doing it, it was that time when it was boy's night and we get to hang out and play fun upbeat music. So whenever we write our music, the lyrics really come last and we just have all our main melodies and then we're like "let's write a hook" and we’ll base the rest of our lyrics right off the main hook.
Chandler: That’s super cool. Not every song needs to be about depressing things, like you can have happy songs that people can just scream the lyrics to.
Little Cities: Well that’s it. We wanted our thing to be fun, like it was a night out. There's so many cool events that happen around Prince Edward Island (PEI) that happen like once every three months, and I'm always going there like it's fun and energetic, and it’s a night to remember type of deal and that was our main goal. And lyrically, too, we already have three tunes recorded, talking about relationships and girls and the pursuit of relationships so it kinda seem to be a bit of a theme that’s coming up. In saying that, the rest of our catalogue has some other topics talking about friends and stuff, we’re from a really small town, too, so some of our songs talk about friends that think that they need to move to a big city like Toronto or whatever to make it, so that kinda comes up. Other than that, we definitely try to keep it as light as we can, and there's definitely a lot of sad songs, and songs that have really good messages about mental health and such, and we definitely respect that, and that’s not to say that in the future when we’re writing, that’s not gonna be a theme that we come across, but at least for this batch of songs, we have a lot of songs about girls.
Chandler: So speaking of new music, you have a new single coming out in about a week. Could you talk about that, and how this new song compares to some of your past songs?
Little Cities: This song is called “The Girl Next Door". Sticking to our girl theme, I suppose. This one, I guess when we were in the studio, we looked at our songs and picked different sounding songs. Like we wanted to have the quick, fast one to show you who we are, and a dancey, poppy one, and our kinda more rock style per say. And this one is definitely our dancey, poppy one, very upbeat, very catchy, a lot of synth, a lot of sing along-anthem-y sort of sound. It's certainly poppier than our first track.
Chandler: Yeah for sure, I listened to that teaser like ten times, I thought it was sweet. And I've listened to all your other music, too, but I think that’s going to be a sweet song that people are gonna love. You guys got a lot of hype on that track with almost 6,000 views on the teaser you guys put on Facebook, congrats on that.
Little Cities: Thanks, lots of love, and we have a really great core fan base on PEI and the music scene in general. Everyone is just super supportive, and it's an actual community. People work together. It's not even just bands, it's establishments and businesses that wanna see these young people that are so involved in their own businesses succeed with their music, so its like free advertising. They're just so good to everyone. You can put a poster up in every restaurant, play at a different bars. To be able to partner with the craft brewery and the pizzeria, it's pretty awesome because you know competing with the pop punk ego so pizza and beer and being able to get that stuff for free or at significant discount is appreciated for a young and upcoming band.
Chandler: I love hearing how your scene is so good because I’m from Buffalo and our scene is not as welcoming as that, and one of our best venues just closed down, so that was super hard to hear, so I love hearing that there are still small scenes out there that love the music.
Little Cities: Yeah definitely, PEI is a great place, like Thursday to Saturday night there's like 8 different bars you can see a live band at in an island of 135,000 people or something like that. And it's really cool up there, and there's all sorts of different genres happening depending on the venue. We’ve definitely seen some challenging times especially with venues closing or not being as supportive. But as far as the 21+ scene in your case or 19+ scene, the bars here are very supportive and encouraging, and have been for years, so we’re blessed to be from a town that really respects local music.
Chandler: That’s awesome, I know you love your local scene, but what about the future? Do you have any plans about tours or breaking into the US a little bit?
Little Cities: It's definitely been talked about it, it's in our goals. It's crazy to think about where we are geographically, like we can get to New York and Massachusetts faster than we can get to Toronto. So the tricky part about getting into the US is the immigration stuff. For American bands to come to Canada, it’s a bit easier than the other way around. It'd have to make sense and be worthwhile for a young band with a lot of money to get immigration lawyers involved, and get the proper visas and stuff. I have friends in bands that got to the border and show up with a trailer full of instruments and say they’re there to record or something, and sometimes that works, but if you get busted then you get banned and that’s a whole other thing, so if and when we’re going to do it we have to make sure that it's legit. But I would say that we’re definitely looking for bands in the genre that we can partner with.
Chandler: That’s sweet. I know you have a few upcoming shows, do you just want to talk about those a little bit?
Little Cities: Yeah we’re doing our single release party here at Bob's Lounge in Charlottestown on May 14th.
Chandler: Just to get back on the new music for a second, what about talk of a full album or are you just working on the singles for a little bit?
Little Cities: Right now, our plan is just to release singles for awhile until we feel it's necessary to release everything on a full print, and definitely print some vinyl. And we’re kinda looking for labels or support, too, and if we partner with a label, for instance, and they want something physical released, I feel like we’re in a position to get those songs together. And to be honest with you, releasing a single vs. an album, what we do leading up to it is kinda the same, and then it's just yesterday’s news, so we’ve had a lot of luck doing the singles then theres a more frequent buzz instead of giving it all away at once, every couple of months there's something else to celebrate.
Chandler: Yeah for sure, that’s definitely one of the struggles younger bands have. I mean you guys are a younger band, you just played your first show a little over a year ago, what other struggles have you come across as you try and make a name for yourself in the scene?
Little Cities: Um, at first being taken seriously as a pop punk band. It's sad to say it, but a lot of people are like “aw cute you guys are in a pop punk band”, but then we were kinda like "You know what lets just write as good of music as everyone else and hustle as hard as everyone else". And like we said earlier, we just took social media and kinda used our brains and found a way to market ourselves really well, and now we’re playing with the people that were kinda calling us cute. And for years, we’ve been with The Defend Pop Punk group and stuff, and the collective of the people in there is really amazing, and without those groups, we would've never had the opportunities we had. We’re definitely thankful that social media is a thing because we’re from a really small place pretty far away from any big city, and the fact that we can still get approached by these big labels and make a name from ourselves coming from a tiny place is really cool.
Chandler: For sure, those were a few heavier questions, I just got a few fun questions. Do you have any memorable moments as a band that were really funny or just good memories?
Little Cities: Well one time we went to play a show, and for some reason there was an auction happening, and the auction took about an hour too long while we were still trying to do our soundcheck and everything and we had nowhere to go because it was in the middle of nowhere, and Josh is getting really mad and started taking a bunch of funny selfies making fun of them. And it was funny because we were all on stage and everyone was on their phone, but it was kinda an inside joke because we’re all kinda giggling and everyone else didn’t know what was going on. But, um, recently we were on our way to rehearsal and we were pulling into the driveway, and we realized we forgot to pick up our bassist and we had to drive 20 minutes to go pick him up. But anyways, we try to keep it light and we’re always jabbing at each other and having fun. We’re all just a bunch of brothers at the end of the day.
Chandler: I play in my own band and you make so many good memories and you really become a family and I think that’s super cool. Do you have any all time favorite venues that you like to play at or see other bands play at?
Little Cities: Definitely. I [Matthew] love playing at the Beer Garden. It’s the best, it's got an actual stage with a railing so people can't touch your pedals. And it's one of the venues with bigger capacities, so if any big bands comes through there that’s where they go. But also the venues we’re playing at next, it's almost like an attic above a restaurant, so it’s a really tiny spot with an 80 person capacity. Yeah, so like especially for young bands, it can be really hard to pack a venue so that’s where you play. Its almost like a big house party so it’s a really fun venue to play at.
Chandler: I think small venues, even though they're hot and sweaty, are sometimes cooler to see bands at than larger venues because you get so up close and personal, and you can't get that at bigger shows. I just got one more question today. If you could tour with any band who would it be and why?
Little Cities: For me [Matthew], it would be Seaway. They just seem to be a band that we found some sort of connection with. They played in town twice and Josh’s other band would’ve gotten to play with them, and just know that they were like the same as us like lighthearted, fun, upbeat punk music from a smaller town, well bigger town than us, but doing what they're doing now from Canada is pretty sweet. For me [Josh], I gotta say the boys from State Champs. Huge, huge fan of them, and I love the energy they bring, and I love watching their live videos and stuff. Ideally, it'd be State champs, Seaway and us on the bill, but like you could bury me. But of course, I mean like the classics for sure. But Seaway and State Champs would be the dream.
Chandler: Once again guys, thank you so much for taking the time for talking to me.
This has been An Uncharted Hour interview with Little Cities.
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