Smallpools have already had one of their songs performed on Saturday Night Live, even if they weren’t in the famed Studio 8H when it happened.
As co-writers of The Chainsmokers’ torch-song-for-treadmill-runners “Break Up Every Night,” the Los Angeles-based trio got to watch their song go out to millions of viewers from a motel in Rochester, NY.
“That was fun,” said frontman Sean Scanlon when I spoke to the band over the phone this week. “Whenever we get something big for our own band, we have to be the ones to perform it. We have to take all the criticism and praise. It was nice to kind of sit on the sidelines. We were like a proud dad, watching their kid play soccer or something.”
Though a lot of Chainsmokers more-recent moves carry a faint whiff of the mercenary, Smallpools relationship to the production duo formed early on and in a genuine, internet struggle sort-of way. When both acts were up-and-comers, well before The Brothers Smoke dropped their much-maligned viral hit track “#Selfie,” Smallpools just happened upon a (genuinely great) remix that the producers shared on Hype Machine.
It was early on when we first reached out to them,” said guitarist Michael Kamerman. “It was around when [Smallpools’ single] “Dreaming” first came out in 2013 and we were looking for people to do the remix. We got on Hype Machine and saw their remix of Say Lou Lou. So we sent them a blind email asking if they wanted to do it and they said yes.”
Kamerman said that The Chainsmokers were “super cool” and that the two bands formed what he called a “texting relationship” — meaning that they kept in touch over the years as the “Closer” duo ascended. That led to Smallpools co-writing “Break Up” and seeing something they helped create get supernova huge with the release of Memories…Do Not Open.
But beyond that admittedly pretty cool moment, the joyous indie-poppers still have more of their own hits to make. The kind where they are out front to take the lion’s share of the praise and the brunt of the criticism. And with songs like “Million Bucks” — which we’re premiering today — the band seems to be on the right track.
“Million” takes all the hookiness of an inescapable summer hit like the ones peddled by the Chainsmokers, but cuts out the drop for layers of woah-ohs, walls of synth and guitars riffs run through effects pedals until they practically sparkle. And it doesn’t hurt that Scanlon has a much more traditionally pretty set of pipes than the singing Smoker.
The song comes from the group’s upcoming EP The Science Of Letting Go which drops on August 4. Scanlon says that the new EP aims to be more frank and accessible than their earlier work, serving up real-life situations that fans can relate and dance to in equal measure.
“I wanted this album to be about more real, situational type of things,” Scanlon said. “Those initial EPs was more about quirky, fun lyrics. They were still things that happened to me, but they were kind of wrapped up in code.”
Following 2013’s self-titled EP and their 2015 album Lovetap, this is one of the first offerings from the newer, more straightforward Smallpools is a microcosm of the band’s latest move, given that it’s literally about finding something real in an unexpected place.
“It’s a cliche about Los Angeles that the weather’s great but everything’s fake,” Scanlon said. “But I don’t know how nothing could possibly be real in the whole city. I’ve never really had that perception of LA myself.”
While it might not change your mind about LA, there’s nothing fake about the way that “Million Bucks” latches onto your brain and refuses to let go. Give it several spins up top and pre-order Letting Go here.