“I’m inside drinking red wine!” Matt Scottoline, the mastermind behind Philadelphia indie group, Hurry, replied when I told him I had arrived at the bar. I was greeted with a huge smile and a friendly “hello!” and he immediately treated me as if we had known each other for years. I had only seen Scottoline at shows, sporting a baseball cap that never seems to leave his head. I had never spoken to him and I got a good taste of his personality through his playful stage banter; then I found the Hurry Twitter account. The posts are some of the most clever and hilarious things I’ve seen from a band on social media. This use of social media for bands is on the rise and, if used effectively, can have a huge impact on a band’s following. Aside from getting to know Scottoline and his band, this interview delves into the workings of a modern band, from music videos to home recording to social media. When I planned to end the interview, Scottoline was still eager to talk and we ended up chatting for another half hour about random topics. This seems to speak to the kind of person Scottoline is. He can talk to anybody about anything for any amount of time as long as there is a mutual respect. Instead of transcribing those last 30-minutes I’ll leave you with this and your imagination: Scottoline now knows how to use a flying saucer grill correctly, everyone in Philadelphia simultaneously needs and doesn’t need a drummer, there is a deep appreciation for the few people who used to watch our old bands play.
Yeah, for about the last 10 years I’ve been in another band called Everyone Everywhere. It’s my friends from high school. We all moved to Philadelphia in 2005 and started this band Everyone Everywhere and did that for a long time. As we all got older and were done with college, people had jobs and things slowed down with that band. And in that band I played bass, I wasn’t the singer or songwriter primarily, it was more of a collaborative sort of thing. So I was making songs at home by myself because I just wanted to keep playing guitar.
When did you start playing guitar?
I think I started in 6th grade. The exact age where a guitar becomes a cool thing to have. As a kid, basically. Honestly I was really bad and didn’t practice. I took lessons and ended up having to quit because I would never do what he asked me to do and it was just a waste of time. And then I stopped playing and I truly didn’t start playing again until I was in the 11th or 12th grade. And I started realizing that I could just make up songs on my own, I didn’t need to learn how to play eight Nirvana songs. So yeah, Hurry started as my home/side thing to just keep myself writing songs and playing guitar and doing something outside that other band. And then as Everyone Everywhere stopped playing as much – we’ve never broken up, we still maybe play once or twice a year – I was able to shift my focus entirely to Hurry because Everyone Everywhere sort of became inactive.
Where did you come up with the name Hurry?
It was sort of an “in’ joke to myself because when I was writing the songs sort of without a purpose – I think the way I write songs is sort of stupid and unusual, I have to write it all in one sitting. I never go back to anything, and I don’t know why, maybe it’s laziness or something. If I start a song, I’ll sit down at my computer with my interface and plug the guitar in and I have a microphone and fake drums on my computer. So if I don’t finish every part of it, including lyrics and melody, in one shot, I just never go back, I probably have about 50 unfinished songs that I’ll probably never touch again. But I was making these songs and I would spend a couple of hours and have a whole song. And then I just wanted to put it on Bandcamp and I needed to pick a name for it so I picked Hurry because – I was making fun of myself basically and not really realizing that it would become a band and I would have to use that name for something. But really it was just an inside joke by myself to myself.
That’s cool though, at least it’s not totally random and meaningless.
Yeah, and I kind of like it because on reflection now it’s not something that was super contrived. Because coming up with a band name is one of the hardest things in the world.
I was just going to say that exact same thing, it’s one of the hardest things to sit down with some ideas and say “Alright, I’m going to write these down, and these ones are already taken….”
And I was also honestly just amazed that it hadn’t been taken yet. In the band world most one word names are gone. The fact that that bandcamp page was available I was like ‘Sure why not?’
How did Hurry start and evolve?
It was just me and the whole first cassette I ever made I went to a studio and played every instrument myself and it was all me. Then my friend Brendon, who played in Everyone Everywhere, joined me for shows with my friend Rob (DeCarolis), who is still the drummer of Hurry today. But it was very rotational in the beginning, whatever friends I had that were around would just hop in and learn the songs real quick. It didn’t feel like a thing that needed steady members for a long time because I was writing all the songs alone, and I still am, but we weren’t very busy, so if I booked a show I would have maybe a month to practice with people. So it started off very casually like that.
I think a lot of it was – my sort of natural inclination is to write really simplistic pop songs because that’s what I grew up listening to and it’s just where I go when I sit down and write. And I think that over the last 6 or 7 years I started listening to a lot of bands, bands like Yo La Tengo or this band called Pure X. I was really captivated by their first record. Basically the thing with that was just there were these bands making pop songs that were just drenched in noise and sounded really interesting. Sometimes they were really aggressive or sharp, but at the core it was just these simple songs with hook and melodies. And I thought that was really interesting so basically I had all of these songs written and then I just thought I would try to make a really loud album. And then part of it also, I think, is just to mask my own insecurities when I’m making my own demos. Because it’s really easy for me in Logic, the program I use to record, to put fake amplifiers on stuff and fuzz it all out and it makes things not sound as bad as they are if it’s just a barebones demo. And then I got used to hearing the songs that way as well – it was kind of a combination of these two things. So right now I’m working on new music and one of my big focuses is not making another record that sounds like that. I want to be more confident this time. I don’t know – I’m not trying to make a soft rock album or anything, just not hiding behind noise as much and using it when it’s most effective.
How has Hurry’s reception been in Philadelphia, both in general and in comparison to Everyone Everywhere?
Well, it’s hard to say. Everyone Everywhere were lucky because we were sort of in the right place at the right time with the music we were making and we ended up doing fairly well within the scene, which people now label as emo revival. That wasn’t a goal of ours, it just ended up happening, but we got lucky because we ended up getting lumped into the beginning of that. And that’s the reason we can still play one or two shows a year, we will just get this really awesome offer to do something and just say “Sure, why not?” So, going from the very modest beginning of Hurry –it was interesting because I was sort of spoiled by being in a band that people were sort of interested in and then just staking out on my own about a thing nobody cares about. Just playing shows to nobody for a year and a half. And now really knowing why I was doing it other than that part of my life for the last 10-15 years was just making music and playing shows. But, you know, over time it has been a slow build. I’ve had a lot of really nice supporters in the Philly scene. So it hasn’t been overwhelming, I’m not crushing it or anything, but there’s definitely people who have been supportive. Even if I don’t feel it day to day, if I look back on what it used to be and what it is now, it’s pretty cool that by the virtue of nothing else besides me just keeping at, it it’s grown in the way it has.
So you just had a new music video come out and it was really great, tell me a little about that.
Yeah, I love music videos and I love making them. The first video we did was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I was itching to make a video after that, and I love videos but I also hate them because so many of them are just stupid crap. They are just so dumb. Like, how many videos have you seen where a band is in a dark warehouse? It’s just like why would anybody watch that? I wouldn’t watch that. Even if I love the song.
So anyway, the deal with the first video spiraled out of control. So I wanted to make anti video, and the first idea I had was to make a video that was a black screen the whole time and then the gag at the end of the video would be that we left the lens cap on. It was going to be this huge thing that just couldn’t be produced, all of this destruction and shit, but it got paired down into a more realistic realm. Just this video that was very self-deprecating, that had a narrative and was interesting to look at. I always thought it would be funny to make a CGI music video, I don’t know why. And when you say it, it sounds like something that’s really high budget that U2 would do. One of the things I love to do with my friends is find student animation films on YouTube and just watch them. They are so crude and bad but in a very endearing and interesting way. There have been so many times where we have sent each other these insane, 30-second scenes that some kid made for an animation class and it’s so cool.
So basically my idea was I wanted someone to make characters of me doing things in that environment. About six months ago I started emailing local universities that had animation departments, I was emailing the heads of these departments. Most of them gave me a hard no but I sort of laid it out for them and it was a really weird proposition, it turns out. I was like, “I need someone who can make bad animation on purpose for me.” So I got a lot of no’s and then just through the grapevine, this kid who is the brother of Eric Osman, one of the owners of Lame-O Records, goes to Drexel said he would help us find people there to help us. He found this guy named David Peterson, who I’ve still never met, who I got in touch with on Facebook, and he made the entire video over a span of 4-5 months. He made character models first, and sent me pictures of the character models and I was just so excited I told him to take how ever long he wanted. It probably took about 6 months from conception to finished product but Peterson did an amazing job. I gave him some direction, like what sports and how I wanted the band scene to be. I wanted a close-up shot of my character singing in a very disconnected, uncomfortable way. But all of the little gags and stuff he did himself, most of those were not my idea. It was pretty insane I’m lucky I found him. The odds of me finding someone who not only can animate it but also understood my sense of humor and just did it, it’s crazy. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done in my entire life, to be a part of that video.
(laughing) That’s a fact! The thing that’s so cool about Twitter is that – well, I’m an anxious person. I have a lot of anxiety and the band is obviously important to me. Twitter is the one thing I can control on a daily basis, with the band. I can’t control who is going to listen to our record on a given day, I can’t control if anyone is going to buy the record or if anyone is going to ask us to play a show. I can’t do anything about that, that is what it is. But with Twitter, I have the ability to not only establish the band’s ideology and personality, but also maintain it and keep it relevant and in people’s face, in a positive way. So the reason I do it is because it works. It’s engaging and it makes people want to – I don’t know, I don’t want to sound too much like a businessman or something – if people are ”buying into my personality” it makes people more inclined to check us out. And if they already know us it makes them more inclined to support us. Not only is music a thing that they might enjoy, but it’s a personality that they like and want to interact with and share with people. I act like an idiot on there, but it’s somewhat calculated. Sometimes I do things on there and I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’
Yeah, I think everyone does that once in a while. But I would agree that at least putting your band out in the faces of everybody every day will reach more people. And they’ll associate the band with a certain friendliness.
Yeah, and I’m also a person that doesn’t want anyone to think that I think our band is important. Obviously the band is important to me, but I don’t think anyone’s band is important. I think that’s the beauty of bands. I just want people to know that I’m being earnest. I don’t give a shit about looking cool or presenting myself as being a cool guy. I want people to know that I will comfortably be a goofy idiot, not only on Twitter but at a show. At shows I do a lot of talking between songs and it’s in the very same way. I just want to break down the barrier between the people in the band and the people at the show and show them that we are all the same person. I’m not better than anyone else standing in the crowd, just for some dumb reason I’m on the stage. I’m ready to admit that whereas I feel other bands don’t really admit it. It’s all part of a philosophy. I have a philosophy, I guess. It’s about being honest and not an idiot or jerk, so it all sort of ties into that.
So you guys are going on tour in the fall with Yuck, are you really excited about that?
I love that band. I could probably lump their first record into the stuff I was listening to that showed me that the ideas you had were things you could actually do. I was so engrossed in the world of Everyone Everywhere that I sort of lost sight that you could write pop songs and make them loud and that can be a band. I just forgot, or I wasn’t around it enough but when I heard that record it invigorated me. From the minute we started playing and I had a band called Hurry, I thought it would be so cool to play with Yuck one day. So then they came to Philly a little over a year ago and we got put on the show with them. They were super nice and we got along really well at the show. Without quoting them directly, they said something along the lines of ‘Man, it’s too bad we didn’t know about you before, we would have taken you on tour with us.’ So we kept in touch, I had been in touch with Max Bloom from Yuck the last year or so, and when they were coming back we talked about it and it worked out. It’s really cool. We are lucky that we got on that show a year ago and that we got along well and all of that stuff. It’s just one of those cool, natural things that just happened. Yeah, I’m excited. I think our bands fit well together.
I find similarities between their first album and your music but I’ve never really listened to their other albums that much.
Their new record is so good. I think a lot of people don’t talk about it because the guy who was their singer on the first album left and so the rest of the band made this record without him. Without sounding like a hyperbolic lunatic, I think it’s a modern classic. It’s just a perfect brit pop album. So yeah, that’s a band I’m always excited to see what they do next, even through all of the changes they’ve gone through. But I’m really grateful that they are taking us because we have a lot of friends in Philly and friends in band, but we don’t necessarily have bands that play music like we do. We play a lot of shows with bands I really like but not bands that fit genre-wise with us. So I’m excited because I feel like it will be a good opportunity for us to play in front of an audience who is into the kind of music we are playing, even if they don’t know who we are. So that’s exciting. I couldn’t be more grateful to the guys in Yuck for asking us to do it, super cool.
Yeah, we are demoing right now. I have 12 songs written so far and hopefully I’ll have like 13 or 14 by the time it’s done. No name, no release date yet, I’ve got nothing. I can’t think about that stuff or else I’ll go insane. I just have to make it and then see what happens.
What do you see for the future of Hurry?
I have no idea. We have a new record coming, we are trying to do more shows outside of Philadelphia and we are doing some touring that seems more realistic. I haven’t wanted to tour up to this point because I felt like nobody would go and it would be a waste of time, because nobody knew who were. It’s only more recently that it’s seems like a decent idea. So we are doing more of that this summer and I’m sure it will continue into the fall. I don’t really know what’s happening with the new record at all yet, that’ll change a lot too. We’re recording with my friend out at his studio in West Chester who I’ve known since I was 14 years old. He recorded all of the Everyone Everywhere records as well as all of my dumb bands in high school. I haven’t recorded with him in years but we’ve decided we are going to go back out there. His name is Mike Bardzik and the studio is called Noisey Little Critter. He’s really talented and his studio is really cool so I’m excited to see what he adds to it. The last record we did in Philly at The Headroom with Joe Reinhart (guitarist of Hop Along), who is also an amazing engineer. It was a very DIY space there wasn’t much room and it was loud. They’ve since moved on to a nicer studio now, but the old one really fit what I was trying to do. And now that I’m getting a little bit more explorative, things are a little more open with the new record. I’m excited to go to a place and not know what I’m doing.