Red cup of wine in hand, we made our way to an intimate affair at LA’s SIR. A collection of studios where LIFE, a slick-fitted trio consisting of Sean Chapman, Matthew McEwan and Moi J. Quinn, were jamming. You’ve probably heard of them before, under their past title as rock-reggae band Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds. Now, they’ve taken the precarious leap to do what we all wish we could: reinvent. Out with a fresh sound, LIFE’s new funk will politely melt your face off.
We caught up with them before the show, to talk munchies, high school and black sheep.
Band Selfies: a Q and A with LIFE
How did the Holy Trinity come together?
Sean: We’ve been playing as a trio for over 12 years, we were in a band called Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds. It was generally based in the reggae-rock scene & Dub-world. We toured relentlessly. We did Warped Tours. We did a lot of touring with bands like 311, Slightly Stoopid, etc. etc. Then we took a break from touring. We were writing and came across a fresh sound that was still in the vein of who we are but very different. Matthew threw out the idea of a new project and a new name, calling it LIFE.
Moi: I’ve known Matthew for a while. Sean and I went to the same school.
Moi: Middle school and high school. So it came together then – we were looking for another member for Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, either a keyboard player or a guitar player. I’d known Sean from the neighborhood and surfing and stuff and he ended up moving across the street from my house where we used to jam.
Some people call that fate…
Sean: It was meant to be.
Moi: He just started playing and it came together so well. After all this time touring and being together, we’ve seasoned ourselves. We’ve been through the trenches with each other since day one. Getting back to LIFE, we were having a writing session one day and I came late. The guys asked me “what do you think about the name LIFE?” And I was like, life is great, life is awesome, I love life (laughs). They we’re like no, what do you think of it as a name for the band. At first I was a little taken a back, because I didn’t know how to accept it – Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds was my first band.
Sean: Matt and I have played so many different bands growing up and for Moi that was his first band.
Moi: I didn’t want to give up my baby. I was having a little separation anxiety, ha. But, it made sense. We were part of the reggae-rock scene, but we grew up in Hermosa Beach, which was punk rock. Living in California you’re influenced by so many different eclectic styles, hip-hop and all this stuff. We’ve never really been a reggae band. Matt always says that we tie up the loose ends of genres and mix them together. When our new stuff came out, it was totally different and it didn’t make sense to put it under Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds.
Sean: We felt like we were always different from that scene, outcasts like a black sheep band.
That’s the best thing to be though
Sean: Ya, it was! It was working for us, but when we started LIFE, we honed down on something that I can confidently call our own sound. We finally figured out how to fuse what we always wanted to, properly.
Matt: Tying in all the loose ends.
After listening to R U DWN, we realized how refreshing it was to hear lyrics with actual meaning. Sad but true. So who does the writing?
Matt: There is no wrong formula for the way we do it. We’ll take ideas that are written down, then come together and try to come up with something greater. We put all our heads together.
Moi: We work from free-styling to conceptualizing it. Then we groove it out. It’s been a very eye-opening experience as an artist and a singer to finally take the time to do this the right way.Before I did a lot of the writing on tour, but now we all get together. Sean has been doing a lot of the writing on this EP, but we all get together and run stuff by each other. We were recently on a plane back from a showcase in New York, and Sean wakes up and says, Dude I just wrote a song in my dreams.
Matt: By the time we landed, he was like It’s done, I got it
Sean: I had the riff, the lyrics, the melody lines. I feel really privileged as a guitar player, to have friends and band mates who are amazingly talented. I trust them on stage, recording, on stage. I also trust them with my family and my life. Moi, is such an exceptional singer. Not every band has that outlet where I know I can write a song that I know he can sing and nail it. It makes it easier for me, because he has range.
Favorite munchie spot in LA at 2 am
Moi: Taco Sinaloa, from where we live in Torrance because that’s the only thing open at 2.
Sean: Taco Sinaloa, but in LA Isla, it’s not called that anymore.
Matt: We loved that spot.
Moi: We’ve been juicing a lot too.
3 Reasons California > rest of the US
Moi: The weather, we have an endless summer, almost.
Matt: Location, location, location, those are three.
Moi: It is about location in a way. You got the beach, the snow, mountains, the desert.
Matt: It’s the world’s terrain, this playground on a small bit of land.
Sound off on the upcoming EP
Sean: It’s based off of honest experiences we’ve been through, struggles we go through, good things, bad things. I think that’s why the name is so eye-opening, because its not positive or negative. It’s neutral, and everyone has that in common. The songs are introducing who we are. The message is based on our own life experiences and some are on things we’ve seen socially.
Moi: R U DWN is about missing home. Where you see people you love, who you neglect to really give value to when you’re stuck in the madness of the show.
Sean: That’s how it started off, from us missing home. Then all of a sudden it became a song about not saying No, just saying Yes, I’ll try this. Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone and also appreciate where you come from, family and friends.
Moi: Just the simple things in life, the things you can’t take with you when you die.
What was your experience collaborating with artists from bands like Nine Inch Nails, Incubus, and Daft Punk?
Sean: So, normal, I was actually just texting with José from Incubus right now, and he’s just so cool. I met him through Greg Teal, the music supervisor at Hurley. Josh Freese [Nine Inch Nails], same thing, he just came in. Omar Hakim [worked with Daft Punk] was actually a good friend of my dad, who was a drummer in the 70s & 80s, that’s how that came about. We actually wrote the song Kill the Messenger about the Sandy Hook shooting, and our producer said Omar Hakim would be so great for this, and we kind of manifested our way into that.
Moi: They are just regular people, and we’ve met a lot of people like that, who have been playing music their whole lives. I can say that maybe only one person has ever rubbed me the wrong way. Most people are super humble, super nice. When you think about it, it’s music, and you gotta be that kind of person to project that kind of feeling and emotions on people.
What does LIFE’s future look like?
Sean: We just got off a Southeast Radio tour, and we got added to a lot of stations, which we’re really happy about, and grateful for. Now we’re going to be hitting the West coast, doing the same thing, and we’re about to play a show at the Viper Room, which is our debut, live LA show. We’ve had a lot of support from Live Nation and Hurley for that show. We also have more tours coming up, going back to New York and then UNLV show for the college, and Arizona. We’re just going to be doing a lot of touring, press, and a lot of fun song writing, always. Releasing the EP in May.