New York City’s The Upsides are a four-piece indie rock group that’s been putting out fun, thoughtful, and seriously catchy material. Their newest single, “Ticker Tape Parade” is a funky rock track complete with lyrics that display some earned wisdom. The Upsides’ band lineup consists of the Fullam brothers, Matt (guitar and vocals) and Dan (drums) along with Matt DaSilva (bass) and Hart Mechlin (guitar).
For a song called “Ticker Tape Parade” it begins in a surprisingly somber way. Foreshadowing perhaps. Vocal and instrumental modulation create layers of lyrics over piano that gives an underwater vibe. A nod to the fact that a “ticker tape parade” type celebration is a bit of a pipe dream. DaSilva’s bass drops in—clean and driving. Dan Fullam picks things up with a groovy syncopation and off beat, almost ska guitar completes the sonic transformation.
The Upsides’ influences shine through here. The Strokes, Heartbreakers, even Daft Punk are recognizable without the band overly leaning on their influence. The chorus kicks in as Fullam sings /we all keep looking for a little bit more/.
The themes in the lyrics sort of straddle the line between a laid back pessimism and a grateful enlightenment. Fullam says, “The lyrics in the chorus came from watching this construction crew across the street from our apartment play scratch-off lottery tickets every day during their lunch break. We envisioned throwing them a Ticker Tape Parade if they were to hit it big. They are probably still playing the game somewhere in NYC, but there is that age-old saying ‘you gotta be in it to win it.’” Okay, so maybe we don’t need to win the lottery and get our own parade. The suggestion seems to be that maybe it wouldn’t make us happy anyway.
The song shifts between a bopping verse and a tight pre chorus /you can disco like it’s ‘74/ at a ticker tape parade/. The chorus however is about as anthemic as indie rock gets.
The Upsides, as their name suggests have their own special brand of optimism though. And they manage to remind us all to be grateful for the good times. Keep following this infectious indie rock band as they play a series of release shows throughout the fall of 2022.
You’ve said that you, “think by writing this tune we have learned to ‘live in the middle’ a bit more and really appreciate and enjoy what we currently have, cause it ain’t gonna last forever.” What’s something about your career as The Upsides that you really appreciate?
Simply the fact that we can still get together a few times a week and make some noise together. We’ve seen a lot of our friends, who are arguably more talented than we are, have to give up music for general life things that get in the way. We definitely don’t take a single rehearsal or show for granted, and it’s awesome that our shows in particular are a place for us to reconnect with friends new and old. It feels like we are family at this point, and our ties go beyond just making songs which is probably why we are still doing it and aren’t sick of each other!
What’s something you feel like you should get a ticker tape parade for?
(Laughs) That’s a great question! We probably should be prepared to answer that. They are pretty impractical and probably mess up a lot of people’s days travel-wise, so there better be a very good reason for it. I do think that it would be hilarious if whoever won the lottery gets their own ticker tape parade, and that’s kind of where the song stemmed from. There was a group of workers who would take their breaks outside of the bodega by our apartment to scratch off lotto tickets, and I always thought how great it would be if one of them got their big break one day and we could throw them a ticker tape parade. Separately, maybe if you invented something for the good of humanity, that might be a better reason for a parade now that I’m thinking it through.
Do you feel like this track is a departure? From the other tracks in the EP and from your work as a whole?
We think our third EP ‘After the Show’ definitely is a bit of a departure from the material we have put out earlier this year. There’s certainly a little more edge to it, and some grittier guitar stuff across the whole EP. There’s also a little more angsty of a mood to it. Ticker Tape Parade is definitely the most bass-driven song we’ve written thus far, and lyrically perhaps it is a bit of a departure as a lot of the material from the first two EPs and even Isolated Incidents focuses on interpersonal relationships. Ticker Tape Parade is broadly based on the high cost of living in New York City, and was written when we saw a bunch of our friends having to move out because it just didn’t make sense to live here anymore.
Did you experiment with any different instruments, effects, or tones to achieve the sound you were looking for?
Yeah we took our time to try to get the vocals right in the intro by putting them through a Leslie, which is an old-school spin speaker that our studio Grand Street Recording has lying around. And then the guitar riffs in the outro and I believe the chorus have a combo of a Delay Llama Delay pedal and Fuzzbubble overdrive pedal, which is probably the gnarliest guitar tone we’ve gotten to-date. We wanted that lead guitar to have a kind of blown-out, breaking-up sound.
The last chord is really interesting. The outro sounds like it’s going to land on the major but instead it finishes minor. Was there something thematic behind that choice?
That’s funny you ask, because on a lot of songs we’ve been writing for our album next year the last chord is a big topic. It definitely leaves you with a certain taste in your mouth, if you will, and is a big thematic choice. For this one though, I’m not sure how much of a discussion was had. It was probably more of a subconscious choice that this song shouldn’t end on a super happy note given the lyrical content. There’s definitely a little bit of a wariness across this whole EP, and that’s probably a small microcosm of it. – Dan Fullam (drums).