In the late nineties, what was the emo music scene had evolved from its hardcore roots to incorporate pop hooks and a much more melodic sound. Bands like The Promise Ring + Braid were suddenly doing a lot less screaming and a lot more bop-bopping and we were into it.
One such band that thrived in this newly changed genre was LA’s Sunday’s Best, a band that wrote solid pop gems that embraced the rhythmic elements and edge of emo but kept melody central in their appeal. Sunday’s Best dissolved in the early oughts but two of the band’s central members, signer/guitarist Ed Reyes + guitarist Ian Moreno, went on to form a new group, The Little Ones.
Frontman Reyes was kind enough to talk with us about the move from emo to straight pop, the band’s just-released new album, The Dawn Sang Along, and how he balances a steady 9-to-5 with kids and rock stardom. Read on and give the band’s superbly catchy track “Argonauts” a listen below.
So, first off, let’s get the ‘how did the band start’ question out of the way…. How did the band start? Did you all have a goal in mind or anything like that?
The band started around 2004 right after Ian (Moreno) and I stopped playing as Sunday’s Best. We wanted to start a brand new project and go in a whole new direction. The band grew out of hanging out with friends. I asked my brother Brian to jam with us and like they say, the rest is history. Our only specific goal at the time was to play a live show.We were huge Sunday’s Best fans, by the way. I still have “In Beats Like Trains” + “Looks Like a Mess” in heavy rotation on my playlists. But yeah, I feel like a professor trying to describe the transformation the music industry has undergone could use you all as the perfect case study to explain that. Was it disheartening to sign on to a relatively big label and then lose that deal so early on when the industry was just beginning to shift?
We were excited to be signed to Astralwerks in the US and Heavenly Recordings in the UK/Europe. We felt that we could reach a wider audience than just putting the album out on our label, Branches. I’ve always felt that 75% of music is timing. Unfortunately our first full-length was beset with drama as were released from EMI. It didn’t come out for another 6 months after our initial target street date. I could see that it would be challenge for our music to be heard given the delays. However, I wouldn’t change anything other than probably releasing our full-length sooner.
Over the years, I’ve heard many people from all corners of the music industry chime in with their opinion on whether the new environment, with lower album sales, more piracy, and generally less revenue for most everyone is better or worse for music itself in the long run. What’s your take?
I think there are more avenues for music to be heard nowadays and generally it’s great for bands doing it themselves. Bands are more business-savvy and most likely don’t need a big label to get their music out. This means more money in the pocket of bands. I think if you create a quality record/product people will notice.
Totally agree. Honestly, I don’t think I ever would have guessed The Little Ones would have shared members with Sunday’s Best, whose sound, while poppy, was much more rooted in the 90’s emo scene. Clearly you’ve got four other guys there, but was there any intentional move toward such a different sound for you and Ian?
I think the Little Ones in essence is the grown-up version of Sunday’s Best. Ian and I both matured age-wise and matured as songwriters. We also started to create music in a more family environment which definitely shows in The Little Ones music.
I personally had the most humble of involvements in that mid-/late-90s scene myself and remember it very fondly. Is it a time you feel like you often miss?
I have nothing but fond memories of that time. Everything was DIY. We slept on floors, booked our own shows, and it was all done for the fun of it. I do miss it.
And now we’re old men. What can you do. So, I know—this question 100% sucks balls, but how would you describe The Little Ones’ sound?
The Little Ones create ‘social music’. When I say ‘social’ i mean that it’s the kind of music that makes you tap your toes, dance, or generally makes you feel good.
When we were originally writing songs at my house my two pugs would also come in and out. They became our first audience. We would always refer to them as our Little Ones.
Well that’s just adorable. We heard you all recorded the new album while juggling day jobs for the most part. Do you all find that difficult? It’s gotta make touring tough.
It was definitely difficult juggling rehearsal and writing while working more than 8-hour days. Since half of the band lives in San Diego, we would meet in Anaheim for rehearsal once a week for 3 years. It became our ritual but in the end it was well worth it. Touring is tough and makes it difficult for us to plan things. However, we hope to get out there in the summer.
Alright then, who’s got the most interesting day job in the band?
That’s a tough question. We all have interesting day jobs. Some people work in the music industry, video game industry, ad agency, and are full time students.
What’s your day job, if you don’t mind me asking?
I work in A&R at a record label.
Ah, cool. Are you all planning on making it over to NYC to play at any point?
We hope to play NYC at some point this year. Maybe when it’s warmer there!
What? You don’t like thunder snow? Okay, lightning round time—Best thing about LA?
Wait, what are dude bros? Like frat boys?
Yes, dude bros are very frat boy.
Alright. Most ridiculous potential band name that got shot down?
Good god. Best bar in LA?
Oh, well you guys stole that from us. Most under-rated/unheard-of 60s band?
Oh, I don’t know them. Current artist you can’t stop listening to lately?
Again, new to me. I’ll have to check him out. Best tattoo ever?
Timelessly tough + elegant. Band you wish you could have been part of in your wildest fantasies?
Totally. Craziest town you’ve played on tour?
Belfast, Northern Ireland.
I remember us rolling into Belfast and seeing some fist fights in the streets. I’ve never seen so many fights.
Ah. What was your pick for Best Picture last night?
Silver Linings Playbook.
Same. I think we were close. Affleck just out-bearded Bradley. If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Ability to fly.
Classic. Finally, can we request some on-stage emo finger pointing at your New York show or some post-hardcore anthemic choruses or…has that age passed?
Yes, I promise to do it next time we’re in New York.
You can listen to “Argonauts” below and then hear more of The Little Ones’ sophomore full-length, The Dawn Sang Along, and download it or order the CD on their bandcamp page.
Band photos by Jean Claude.