The Neighbourhood’s Jesse Rutherford on Coachella, The Dark Age of Pop and Coming Home
By guest contributor Guy Marzorati
This weekend’s Coachella show will bring The Neighbourhood’s meteoric rise full circle. Popular singles “Female Robbery” and “Sweater Weather” put the band on the radar last year, but lead singer Jesse Rutherford says that attending Coachella in 2011 with guitarists Zack Abels and Jeremy Freedman was a formative experience for the group. “We were watching Arcade Fire and we knew,” Rutherford remembers. “We just looked at each other and said ‘We’re getting here. We’re absolutely getting here. There’s no questions asked’.” The Newbury Park, California natives won’t get to spend much time at the festival during the first weekend. After playing in the Outdoor Theater at 1:25 on Friday, the band will head back on the road; playing shows in Los Angeles and Las Vegas before returning to Coachella next Friday.
The fact that Rutherford listed Wu-Tang Clan as the act he was most looking forward to seeing shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has listened to the Neighbourhood. The band employs hip-hop-heavy drums that Rutherford alternately raps and sings over. Their sound has been compared tirelessly to Foster the People and Lana del Rey, but a more apt grouping may lie with other pop artists who have embraced the same dark, atmospheric vibe as The Neighbourhood. “I think things are darker right now,” Rutherford explains. “A lot of minor cords, just the feel of songs and the pacing, and everything from Rihanna to The Weeknd, everybody is kind of putting out some darker stuff.” The fascination with black and white extends beyond The Neighbourhood’s music; virtually everything the band puts out, their videos, photos, even clothes, fit within the bi-color scheme. The tightly-controlled aesthetic and relative mystery of the band both contributed to the interest the group has drawn.
Fans can expect the same atmospherics in The Neighbourhood’s debut album I Love You. The group traveled to New York to work with producer Emile Haynie, a former Kid Cudi and del Rey collaborator. Rutherford says that recording in the birthplace of rap and spending time in a place significantly darker than their sunny Ventura County hometown reinforced the band’s gritty hip-hop connection. “A part of me has definitely been left in New York and I feel like until I go back I’m never going to get that part of me back,” says Rutherford. “I want to go back and get it, you know what I mean? I wanna live there. I wanna create an album there. I think it would be great.”
After touring all over the world, returning to Newbury Park has been an eye-opening experience for The Neighbourhood into the trappings of fame. Rutherford talks of former high-school classmates he has never spoken to now contacting him with business deals on Facebook. “If I heard someone on the radio that was playing Coachella, I would be embarrassed to reach out to them,” he says. Nevertheless, the big-tent approach that Rutherford takes with his music carries over to his attitude towards those potentially seeking to capitalize from his success. “I don’t take that in a way like ‘Well you didn’t like me back then’,” he says. “I don’t care, like, whatever dude. If you decide to like me whenever you do, I’ll like you right back.” The exposure the band will get from their stop in Indio may leave Rutherford with a lot of people to like back.