When 2013 began, Smallpools weren’t even a band. Seven months later, the group still hasn’t played a live show, but has been signed to a major label, and its debut single is gaining traction at radio. The members of Smallpools don’t really know how any of that happened, and sound like they’re still coming to grips with the fast rise.
“It was ridiculously quick,” admits guitarist Mike Kamerman. “Everyone we come across who hears the story says, ‘This doesn’t happen.’ So, we’re pretty floored by how it’s even going down. It’s crazy.”
A single as infectious as “Dreaming” can certainly speed the process: Smallpools’ opening statement sounds like it was written to be one of alternative radio’s songs of the summer, with its exuberant, helium-voiced Passion Pit vocal riffage; sparkling, hi-fi production; and young-and-invincible ‘tude. It shot to No. 1 on Hype Machine within three days of its release, and has sold 12,000 downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Kamerman and frontman Sean Scanlon — natives of Marlboro, N.J. and Westchester, N.J., respectively — have been collaborating since 2007 and playing in various bands. Looking to take their musical careers to the next level, they drove to Los Angeles, where they eventually met bassist Joe Intile and drummer Beau Kuther, both from Oregon. They took, as Kamerman says, “crappy jobs to pay rent,” and fought to keep their songwriting juices flowing after long commutes back from work.
The quartet has been working on material for their upcoming EP and eventual debut LP simultaneously, with the songs handled by the L.A. production trio Captain Cuts. In describing their sound, Smallpools avoids namedropping current artists, and take a very pragmatic songwriting approach — “The most interesting melody over the most feel-good chord progression possible,” as Scanlon puts it. As for their inspirations, Kamerman nods to “the sort of thing that our parents listened to all the time — Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul Simon.”
Smallpools’ unlikely journey to radio began May 18, when Denver’s KTCL spun “Dreaming” after discovering it on Hype Machine. In the most recent charting week, “Dreaming” rose from No. 38 to No. 34 this week on Alternative Songs, its third week on the tally. Sirius XM’s Alt Nation channel leads all reporters with 193 plays through July 3, according to Nielsen BDS, followed by KKDO Sacramento, Calif. (163) and KITS San Francisco (151).
According to Kamerman, Smallpools got in touch with RCA Records through manager Greg Federspiel, and after RCA quickly signed the band, the introductory rollout began. A self-titled four-song EP featuring “Dreaming” is due July 16, three days after their first-ever live show New York’s Brooklyn Bowl. And on July 15, Smallpools kicks off a North American tour supporting Australian group San Cisco in Boston.
Check out the “Charli XCX vs. Twin Idol” remix of “Dreaming” below: