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The Backseat Lovers get intimate with Waiting to Spill

The Backseat Lovers are back with their sophomore album, Waiting to Spill. Members Joshua Harmon, Jonas Swanson and Juice Welch explore its creation. Continue reading…



The success of the Backseat Lovers has been colored by life-changing transitions. This can be expected from young bandmates that met while still in high school. Known for their 2019 hit track “Kilby Girl,” which peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Rock and Alternative chart, the group’s been navigating the complications of the end of adolescence and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Composed of members Joshua Harmon, Jonas Swanson, Juice Welch and KJ Ward, the band have quickly grown in popularity since its conception, embarking on a global headlining tour in 2023. Their sophomore album, Waiting to Spill, takes an intimate, deeply personal look into a new chapter of their lives. The album takes a visceral approach to exploring their complex emotions through music, incorporating experimental recording techniques and deep-cut lyricism that comes from “a tender and vulnerable place.”

Read more: Deaton Chris Anthony on his deeply Midwestern album SID THE KID

The band joined AltPress while on their tour bus in St. Paul to discuss their favorite recording techniques, the Utah music scene and capturing the raw power of adolescence while creating music.

Waiting To Spill is your first post-pandemic LP. How long after When We Were Friends did it take to start conceptualizing the album?

JOSHUA HARMON: I think I started writing “Close Your Eyes” a couple of weeks before When We Were Friends came out. So, it was immediately. We had to cancel a bunch of performances because of [COVID-19 lockdown], but it ended up drastically changing the way that we worked as a band. We dedicated that time to writing together and building our chemistry as friends and as musicians. We played together almost every day, and then we would write on top of that.

That’s a big shift from your first EP. What was it like transitioning from the resources you had as high school students to now?

HARMON: [When We Were Friends] came out a month after I had graduated from high school. I would actually work on it in some guy’s trailer — like a little studio rig in a trailer — and I would go there on my lunch breaks to mix the song with him. Then, after class, we’d do rehearsals together at my parent’s house in Heber City. 

As a band that are still based out of Salt Lake City, do you think it was harder to break into the music scene in Utah?

JONAS SWANSON: The Utah music scene is constantly evolving, but I think we hit it at a time when it was starting to take off again. A lot of new bands were starting to pop up. There’s a really welcoming scene in Salt Lake. 

You’ve talked about the significance of experimentation in the album, especially with “Silhouette,” and the different things you did to capture the sound. Would you consider this a concept album?

HARMON: Not necessarily — it would be too easy to compare it to a Pink Floyd album or something like that. But I think, emotionally, it’s all coming from the same place. We found that the continuity and throughline of the album came from what we needed to say.

What place do you think it’s coming from?

HARMON: As songwriters, the most important and impactful songs we write are the ones that feel most directly connected to our most vulnerable selves. When we feel like we’re really living within the moment, as a group and as individuals, working on music together. I think in the process of writing or recording almost every song, one of us has shed tears at some point. 

What would you say is the standout recording technique you used in the project?

SWANSON:Silhouette” probably had the most obscure recording process because we tried a lot of different things for every single portion of the song. But, I think the standout part of that process was the transition into “Close Your Eyes.” We manually created the doppler effect that transitioned the two tracks by recording this long, soupy note and pointing a speaker out of a car window while driving past a bunch of microphones facing different directions. That was really fun because it was an idea we’d had for a couple of years and didn’t really know if it was going to work. We’re really happy with the result.

Speaking of transitions, can you touch on your own transition between albums and coming into adulthood? Do you think you made an intentional tonal shift, or do you think that’s just a naturally occurring process in songwriting?

JUICE WELCH: That period after high school was the biggest shift for us because it was our first time moving out of our parents’ houses. We were roommates, so it was like taking that next step in life and doing it all together. The album was so entangled with our relationships and the steps we’re taking in our lives. Basically every single thing we’re doing all the time for the last several years. I think in some way, it was a way of escaping that adolescence, but also embracing a youthful, childlike state of mind alongside my best friends. 

You mentioned that honesty and vulnerability are a throughline of the project. What would you like people to take away from the album?

SWANSON: I hope they take something out of it that feels special and personal. But I wouldn’t want to define someone’s experience with what we’re saying. Our creative mission statement within the last year is all about being as free as possible while we’re making something. I think our main intention is to move forward and try to do something we’ve never done before, and that’s what we want for our fans.

Have you noticed a change in your live performances between your two albums? What kind of energy would you like people to bring to your shows?

HARMON: Naturally, the new album has a lot of new energy. We’re exploring a lot more dynamics in a more intimate space, especially being a bit more toned down. I think the biggest thing that we’re excited about at shows is when it feels like the audience is present. If that means the energy is explosive and crazy all the time, we will always invite that. We’ll also invite a calm, relaxed energy that’s more about sitting with yourself and being attentive to the subtleties of the music. You try to have a little bit of both of those within every show.


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