• About A Band: Cold Fronts

    A few years ago, Craig Almquist's band Cold Fronts played a very unofficial show on a street corner in Austin during South by Southwest. The group drove down to Texas from their hometown of Philly days before, sleeping on couches and pooling money for food and gas all so that they could knock out a handful of these "shows" in different locations across the city. This is a pretty standard practice for a band who's looking for a break—though it doesn't typically end in success. 

    But on this day, Seymour Stein, the Vice President of Warner Brothers Records, happened to be walking by. What he saw in that impromptu performance made him stop walking—and ask the band for a meeting. 

    Earlier in 2016, Cold Fronts—made up of Craig, drummer Joe Killian, guitarist Max Steen and bassist Alex Luquet—released their first full-length record on Sire Records, the sister label of Warner that Seymour founded. It's called Forever Whatever, a term that fits the playful slackerdom that runs deep through the band's aesthetic. This is a group that can knock out raw and catchy garage-pop songs one by one, influenced by the indie rock of the early '00s and punk kings like Iggy Pop. And if you see them live, flying off the handle and imploding into their own stage set up, you'll understand why that street show was powerful enough to jumpstart their career. 

    Read our interview with Craig below and listen to the newest single, "Miss Austin," a bright, lo-fi ukulele-lead track featuring Lucy Stone that's inspired by the city that started the wild ride to Whatever
    Photos by CJ Harvey

    Hey Craig, can you give us a little history on the band?
    Cold Fronts has been around for over five years, but its current lineup came together last year when a few members left right before a seven-week tour. I think before I had too many friends with too much history in the band, and there was sort of a power struggle when it came to making decisions. Now, everyone who's a part of this project knows each other because we play music together—not because we were friends in high school or something. 

    Does that make it easier to lead as its frontperson?
    Yes. Now I'm more comfortable doing that, and everyone else has their strengths that they know and take care of, like art direction, tour scheduling, handling money, things like that. 

    When you first started Cold Fronts, you must have dreamed of signing a record deal. How was that dream different than reality?
    I actually asked my friend from high school [who's not in the band] to play guitar on Forever Whatever,  because when we were in school we both promised if we ever got a chance to be signed to a label, we'd be in each other's band. We thought we’d get flown out everywhere, taken to dinner everywhere, we basically figured we’d be full-time musicians and not have to worry about working. Now, I work four part-time jobs on top of writing, practicing and touring with Cold Fronts [laughs]. I guess at that time in music, people were still spending stupid money, but the industry has changed as a whole.

    What would be your advice to a younger band trying to break into the industry?
    Move in with your parents [laughs]. I don’t even know. I’ve learned you have to do everything yourself, no matter what. There’s a ton of bands that are going to be more successful than you. I don’t mean that in a bitter way, but there’s a lot of popular bands that get heard one way or another, maybe you found a Pandora station they like and that’s the way that some people find music, you know? They just put on the Imagine Dragons Pandora radio and then they pop up on it and then they’re like, "Cool, this band is as good and as big as Imagine Dragons, I’m going to go see them play."

    Yeah, a weird blown out sense of what a band is based on its Internet presence. 
    Yeah. I mean, our fans probably have a distorted view, too. They probably think we’re all just kicking back when we’re in Philly. In reality, we come home from tour and have to quickly figure out how we can still practice and write while working and paying rent. Thankfully, my rent is really cheap. 

    Having a long career as a musician is tougher than most career paths, but that's what you decided to pursue right after graduating from college. Wasn't that intimidating?
    Well, my brother became a tour manager immediately after college and worked with some successful bands, including MewithoutYou, Mates of State, Brand New, and Manchester Orchestra. I saw him do that, and because he was working on the side that gets paid with bands that were getting quickly established, I was like, "Yeah, this is totally doable." It's funny, he's watched me through the years and been like, “Why don’t you guys just do this? Why don’t you just make money and sell out shows?” He thinks it's easy because of his experience. 

    Well, what have you learned from seeing both sides—your brother's story and your own?
    This industry can be frustrating. I think it’s so easy to quit, and literally everyone does at some point, but don't. Don't quit. If you can just keep working on your craft and just keep being a band or if your band gets stale start another band, do that. I really believe in Cold Fronts, and I'm not going to let anything stop me.

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