By Nicholas Jason Lopez
With close to six million Spotify streams to date and a creative rejuvenation since their relocation to Nashville, Tenn. from San Francisco, Front Country are no strangers to success.
They premiered their single “Amerikan Dream” via Rolling Stone on July 31, 2020, which was described by the band to be a “meditation on the mythic versus reality of America,” with the “American Dream” not being truly accessible to all.
Front Country is Melody Walker, Adam Roszkiewicz and Jacob Groopman.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Groopman about “Amerikan Dream,” what’s next to come and more.
Music Bugle – What are your overall thoughts on your single “Amerikan Dream” and how it has been received so far?
Jacob Groopman – “Amerikan Dream” is the most direct and overtly political song we’ve ever released. I’m very proud of it and it speaks to some of the issues that we feel passionate about as a band such as income inequality and systemic racism. Reception has been overall positive and it was the first time many of our fans have heard this new sound. There have been a few haters, but if you’re gonna release a song like this, you have to be ready for the haters and that means you’re doing something right!
Music Bugle – How did you all get your name?
Jacob Groopman – The name was brought to us by our original fiddle player Leif Karlstrom. Since we started out in a much more acoustic/grassy vain, the idea was to convey that we were acoustic music from the city rather than the country, which is where most people assume that type of music comes from.
Music Bugle – What has been your favorite place to travel to?
Jacob Groopman – We had the opportunity to travel to Tibet in 2017 for a river trip and music festival being put on by the Chinese government to celebrate the opening of their first national park. The trip was amazing and very intense, but was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that we’ll never forget.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jacob Groopman – Well, the main way is that our main source of income, live performance, is gone completely. We’ve had to put a hold on anything to do with live performance, which has left us and every band we know in a very uncertain and tricky situation financially. The music industry is never going to be the same and I’m very concerned that we’re going to lose a lot of great bands, venues and artists as a result of America’s complete and total failure to respond to the pandemic.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of live crowds?
Jacob Groopman – I miss connecting with people from the stage. Even though I’m not the lead singer of the band, I love looking around the audience and finding people to play to. You just can’t do that on a livestream.
Music Bugle – Looking back, which of your albums do you feel attached to the most?
Jacob Groopman – The first album we released called ‘Sake Of The Sound’ was very special. However, I honestly feel most connected to the record we’re about to release. It feels like the record we’ve been trying to make since we started the band.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Jacob Groopman – That’s an interesting question. It depends on how you use social media. If you use it strictly for promotion, then I don’t think it’s very helpful. However, social media can be a powerful tool to really convey who you are as a band or artist to find and connect with your audience. The bottom fell out of the music industry in 2005 with the rise of streaming and the whole idea of “owning” music being thrown out the window. However, one of the positive things about the rise of social media is that it has allowed artists to bypass the normal gatekeepers in the industry to build an independent career by connecting directly with fans through social media. The money’s gone, but artists have more power than ever before.
Music Bugle – Are you all working on any new music at the moment?
Jacob Groopman – Yes, we are. Since we’re all spending lots of time in our tiny home studios these days, we’ve got a handful of tracks we’re working on remotely that we hope to release next year after our next record has been out for a bit. It’s been a really fun part of this whole thing.
Music Bugle – You all have been pretty outspoken on your social media about understanding and fighting racism – do you feel we’ve made any true progress as a society in that department?
Jacob Groopman – Absolutely! I think about an interview I heard with John Lewis shortly before he died when he said something like, “Cat’s out of the bag now and there’s no stopping it” when talking about how the Black Lives Matter movement is being heard all around the world. Just like the “Me Too” movement, it’s now a big part of the national conversation. Awareness is key and I’ve seen a lot of friends and family become aware of issues they had no idea even existed. Along with the racist statues being taken down around the country, we’re also seeing real policy changes in local and state governments surrounding police brutality and systemic racist practices that should have come to an end a long time ago. Hopefully, the most direct result of the BLM movement will be to get Donald Trump and his Republican enablers out of office so we can have a government that represents the real America.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Jacob Groopman – Personally, I have been putting myself through home recording school so that I have the skills to create, record and release music that’s “up to snuff” from my house. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but I’m using this opportunity to finally dive in deep. Also, I don’t see live performance getting back to normal any time soon, so I think it’s likely that creating and releasing music from my home will become really important next year.